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U.S. Bishops And Faith Leaders Urge Protection For Religious Child Welfare Providers

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter

U.S. bishop chairmen and faith leaders called Tuesday for an act that would prevent the government from discriminating against religious child-welfare providers.

Three bishop chairmen sent a letter signed by several nonprofit organizations and other faith leaders to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady on Monday, calling the committee to push for the adoption of the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2017. The act, if passed, would prevent both federal and local governments from discriminating against child welfare providers for the religious or moral standards to which they adhere with regard to placing children in foster or adoptive families, according to USCCB.

The letter specifically highlights the importance of respecting the birth mother’s choice of adoption agency or adoptive family to whom she entrusts her child.

“Keeping kids first involves protecting the birth mother’s choice to place the child with the family she feels is best,” the letter states, according to USCCB. The letter later quotes a mother who used a Christian adoption agency “because their values match mine.”

The act is necessary because adoption agencies across the country have been forced to shut down in the face of new laws requiring them to place children with same-sex couples, which violates their religious beliefs, the bishop chairmen and other proponents of the bill said.

“The Inclusion Act is needed because child welfare service providers are being subjected to discrimination because of their sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions. For example, certain religiously affiliated charities in Massachusetts, Illinois, California, and the District of Columbia have had to stop providing adoption and foster care services because of requirements to place children in households headed by two persons of the same sex,” the bishop chairmen asserted in a backgrounder on the act. (RELATED: Religious Adoption Agencies Can Reject LGBT Parents In Texas) 

The closure of religious adoption agencies in Illinois alone displaced 3,000 foster children, which is equal to more than 20 percent of the state’s foster children, proponents of the bill said.

The signatories of the letter include Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Jewish advocacy groups and individuals.

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