The Trump administration has granted a federally funded foster care company in South Carolina the appropriate to freely discriminate in opposition to potential foster mother and father who’re LGBTQ or who’re Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Catholic and different non-Protestant faiths.
The Division of Well being and Human Companies issued a waiver Wednesday that can permit Greenville’s Miracle Hill Ministries and different faith-based foster care companies in South Carolina to proceed to show away some foster mother and father based mostly on non secular standards.
Miracle Hill, which is reportedly accountable for as much as 15 p.c of foster care placements in South Carolina, was at risk of dropping its license over an Obama-era regulation that prevented federally funded foster care companies from citing non secular beliefs to discriminate.
One of many circumstances of the waiver is that Miracle Hill is required to refer foster mother and father it rejects to different companies or the state’s Division of Social Companies.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster requested the waiver from the federal authorities in February. In an announcement Wednesday, he praised President Donald Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar for the choice.
“By granting this waiver, President Trump and Secretary Azar have proven the complete world that, as Individuals, our basic proper to follow faith, no matter our religion, is not going to be in jeopardy underneath this administration,” McMaster mentioned.
Miracle Hill’s CEO Reid Lehman mentioned in an announcement that the choice permits the group to maintain its license and proceed serving almost 200 foster kids.
“It’s all the time been in regards to the license, our proper to exist,” Lehman mentioned.
Miracle Hill’s CEO Reid Lehman and foster care director Brenda Parks ship an announcement on the HHS waiver beneath.
However non-Christian teams and LGBTQ rights advocacy teams are upset in regards to the administration’s determination to privilege Miracle Hill’s non secular liberty over the civil rights of queer or non-Protestant South Carolinians. At the least one Jewish girl who needed to volunteer with Miracle Hill to mentor kids in foster care was turned away due to its insurance policies, the Greenville Information reported.
Whereas Miracle Hill mentioned it doesn’t count on the youngsters it locations in properties to be Christian, it does count on foster mother and father to lift them in a Christian surroundings. This implies the youngsters are anticipated to worship with the foster household at church and at residence.
Miracle Hill staff, foster mother and father and mentors are required to signal a doctrinal assertion agreeing to the group’s core evangelical beliefs. Its strict non secular necessities preclude even Catholics from collaborating in its foster care program, in response to the Faith Information Service.
The Anti-Defamation League mentioned the choice set a “harmful precedent” for the nation. “It’s surprising that the federal authorities is brazenly sanctioning discrimination in opposition to Jews, LGBTQ [people] and others,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s nationwide director, mentioned in an announcement.
Lambda Authorized, which advocates on behalf of LGBTQ Individuals, referred to as the Trump administration’s transfer “unacceptable and alarming” ― particularly since LGBTQ youth are overrepresented within the foster care system.
“The Trump administration continues to violate probably the most primary rules of the liberty of faith by permitting these companies to prioritize their beliefs and ignore nondiscrimination legal guidelines,” Currey Prepare dinner, a Lambda Authorized consultant who works with LGBTQ youths in out-of-home care, mentioned in an announcement. “Freedom of faith is a basic worth in america, however none of our non secular beliefs ought to come on the expense of our youngsters.”
The administration’s waiver comes as South Carolina is experiencing a extreme and rising scarcity of foster properties. The variety of kids in state custody elevated from about three,100 in 2012 to just about four,600 in 2018, in response to The Submit and Courier.
Leslie Cooper, the deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Venture, inspired Congress to cease the waiver from “setting off a devastating domino impact” that will have an effect on foster care kids throughout the nation.
“It’s despicable that this administration would authorize federally-funded state little one welfare companies to permit caring, certified households to be turned away as a result of they don’t cross a non secular litmus take a look at,” Cooper mentioned in an announcement. “Potential foster and adoptive mother and father ought to be judged solely on their capability to supply love and assist to a baby — not their religion.”