A House committee passed a bill earlier this month that would allow faith-based adoption and foster-care agencies to continue operating in accord with their moral beliefs. Democrats responded calling the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act “disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive,” “unconscionable,” and “shockingly biased.”
The Inclusion Act was first introduced in 2014 to protect faith-based adoption agencies and foster care providers from state and local governments’ discrimination against their services solely because of their religious mission to place children in loving homes with both a mother and a father. The bill sought to counteract a growing trend of invidious discrimination on the basis of faith. It became even more necessary when the city of Philadelphia moved to shut down faith-based foster-care providers earlier this year.
The bill has been accused of being a “license to discriminate” against LGBT couples, but it does nothing to inhibit the ability of LGBT couples to adopt children, nor does it reduce access to adoption for LGBT couples. The Inclusion Act merely discourages states from discriminating against faith-based providers and ensures that as many pipelines as possible remain open to connect children with loving homes.
Needy Children Need More Help to Find Families, Not Less
Consider how the child welfare system works. The state works with adoption agencies and foster care providers to place children in homes. The providers recruit families to adopt or foster the children.
Different providers recruit different types of families. For example, Christian providers, which often work directly with churches or other faith-based charities, usually recruit Christian families. If you get rid of some of the providers, you get rid of some of the families. The fewer providers doing the work of recruitment, the fewer homes for children.
Simple enough, right? Yet the Left obfuscates by claiming LGBT couples should have a right to force providers to violate their faith or go out of business, while showing no concern for children in desperate need of families.
The fact that we are talking about shutting down adoption agencies and foster care providers in the midst of a nationwide opioid crisis, where thousands of children have been displaced from their homes and need families to take care of them, shows just how radical and heartless the progressive movement has grown on any issues labeled LGBT-related. Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, who voted unanimously to kill the Inclusion Act, made it clear: they would rather see children suffer than tolerate the very existence of faith-based providers. That position is not only indefensible, it’s immoral.
First They Came for Catholic Charities
Since the legalization of same-sex marriage, faith-based child welfare providers have become an early and frequent target of the Left’s pressure campaign. In 2006, Boston Catholic Charities became the first major religious organization to end its adoption services when faced with a choice between violating state law or violating its religious mission of placing children with families with both a mother and a father. Since then, authorities in San Francisco, the District of Columbia, and Illinois have followed suit, forcing faith-based agencies out of their child welfare systems. In Illinois, 3,000 children were displaced as a result.
In Philadelphia, Catholic Social Services is fighting to keep its adoption agency’s doors open amidst pressure from city authorities to abandon its religious mission. The city is presently facing an adoption crisis and could badly use the help of providers such as Catholic Social Services, which currently has 35 open homes for children. Instead, Philadelphia has chosen to fight these faith-based providers in court, putting radical identity politics ahead of children’s real needs.
This storyline is now playing out across the country. And it is likely to be just a warm-up for bigger battles yet to come. While faith-based child welfare providers have been perhaps the most visible and frequent target of the Left’s assault on religious freedom, there are early indications that other religious institutions may soon be caught up in the attacks.
A number of Catholic hospitals have faced lawsuits for declining to facilitate transgender mutilation procedures. States like California and Illinois have gone after pregnancy centers for refusing to promote abortion. Faith-based schools could also soon find themselves in danger of closure by blaspheming to adhere to leftist orthodoxy.
Furthermore, there are signs even churches could eventually find themselves under attack. In Iowa and Massachusetts, houses of worship have already had to take legal measures to combat attempts to force them to open their bathrooms and other public facilities based on an individual’s “gender identity,” which would violate their understanding of human nature. Given current trends, it seems unlikely these will be the last attempts to force churches to substitute political correctness for their doctrine.
The Inclusion Act Is a Last Line of Defense
All these examples point toward the Left increasingly using LGBT issues as a weapon to prevent people of faith from organizing to serve their neighbors in the public square. The Left’s message to religious institutions is clear: Change your beliefs on human beings and sexuality, or be shut down. In many places, the repressive Left is succeeding.
To prevent current skirmishes from growing into a full-scale assault, political action is required, and soon. This is why passing the Inclusion Act is so important, and why the Left is opposing it so vehemently.
The Inclusion Act would draw a line in the sand, not only protecting faith-based child welfare providers but also laying the groundwork to protect other religious institutions. As evidenced above, however, failing to pass this bill would continue to allow leftist persecution of faith-based groups, with far-reaching implications, especially for the neediest and most voiceless in our society.
Passing the Inclusion Act and signing it into law could be the best remaining opportunity for Americans to defend their religious freedom against a tidal wave of religious discrimination that harms American children and families. We would be wise to take it.