Faith-based providers who work across the country to find children loving homes are finding their services in jeopardy because of their religious beliefs, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.
The lawmakers introduced legislation today that would ensure that faith-based institutions and individuals can continue to provide child welfare services for those who need them.
For decades, adoption and foster care providers – secular, government-operated and faith-based – have worked side-by-side to serve infants, expectant mothers, adoptive and foster families, children, teens and families under economic and emotional pressure. There are some states, along with Obama era federal regulations, that are preventing faith-based organizations from providing welfare services in a way that does not conflict with their faith.
The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2019 would prevent providers of child welfare services from being excluded from offering these services based on their religious beliefs.
“The decision to adopt or foster a child isn’t always an easy decision, but it is one of the most loving choices a family can make,” Enzi said. “That is why it is so important that adoptive and foster parents have access to the provider of their choice. The government should not be in the business of forcing faith-based child welfare providers to abandon their sincerely held religious beliefs, especially at the expense of finding a new home for a child in need.”
“Faith-based adoption and foster care providers have historically played an unrivaled role in caring for our country’s most vulnerable kids,” said Kelly. “They are the very providers that we should be encouraging and promoting, not punishing. Hundreds of thousands of innocent children depend on them being able to do their jobs without hindrance by agenda-driven activists in and out of government. The discrimination must end. All service providers – religious or otherwise – should have a seat at the table when it comes to giving kids loving families to call their own. The more groups providing these crucial services, the better. This is what the Inclusion Act is all about.”
Earlier this month, the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services granted an exemption requested from the state of South Carolina to protect the religious liberty of its state faith-based foster care providers. The governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, asked for the exception in light of the discrimination against faith-based organizations arising from the December 2016 grants regulation issued by the Obama Administration, which became effective in January 2017.
Cosponsors of the legislation in the Senate include U.S. Senators James Lankford, R-Okla., Mike Lee, R-Utah, James Risch, R-Idaho., Ben Sasse, R-Neb., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Steve Daines, R-Mont., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Tim Scott, R-S.C., Bill Cassidy, R-La., John Kennedy, R-La., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
Cosponsors of the legislation in the House include U.S. Representatives Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., Tom Cole, R-Okla., Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., John Carter, R-Texas, James Comer, R-Ky., Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., Bill Flores, R-Texas, Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Glenn Grothman, R-Wis., Jody Hice, R-Ga., Mike Johnson, R-La., Walter Jones, R-N.C., Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., Mark Meadows, R-N.C., Alex Mooney, R-Va., Gary Palmer, R-Ala., Bill Posey, R-Fla., Phil Roe, R-Tenn., Francis Rooney, R-Fla., Chris Smith, R-N.J., Chris Stewart, R-Utah, Mark Walker, R-N.C., Randy Weber, R-Texas, Joe Wilson, R-S.C., Rob Wittman, R-Va., Ralph Norman, R-S.C., Chris Collins, R-N.Y., Rick Allen, R-Ga., and John Rutherford, R-Fla.
Click here to read the legislation.