Religious Foster Care Families Under Attack? New Bill Could Help Protect Them

November 10, 2023
Religious Foster Care Under Attack | First Liberty Insider

by Jorge Gomez  • 5 min read

A new bill introduced in the U.S. House aims to protect religious freedom for foster families.

Reps. Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma and Mary Miller of Illinois introduced the Protecting Religious Freedom for Foster Families Act last week. The bill would prohibit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from implementing a proposed rule that discriminates against foster parents who do not affirm LGBTQ ideology. Representatives Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Barry Moore of Alabama and Eric Burlison of Missouri are co-sponsoring the legislation.

“The federal government should not force foster families to violate their sincerely held religious or moral beliefs in order to house children,” Rep. Brecheen said. “President Biden’s bureaucrats continue to pursue an anti-Christian, far-Left agenda—all without the authority of Congress. With this legislation, we are fighting back.”

The Biden administration announced the proposed HHS rule in late September. It says agencies that place children in foster care “must ensure that a safe and appropriate placement is available for and provided to any child in foster care who identifies as LGBTQI+ and requests such a placement.” The rule also states that “the agency must not place LGBTQI+ identifying children with a provider who unreasonably limits or denies a child’s ability to express their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

The proposed rule will be open for comments until Nov. 27. Americans and organizations can submit their comments here.

The proposed HHS regulation gives foster care providers the option to seek a religious exemption to the proposed requirements. But many religious freedom and pro-family groups worry this provision does not offer enough protection. People of faith across America hold sincere religious beliefs that God created people as male and female. Their convictions prevent them from affirming so-called gender transitions. Under this proposed rule, many families and qualified parents would still be discouraged or even excluded altogether from helping children in need.

As The Christian Post explains, “concerns remain about the implications of the proposed rule on individual foster care providers with deeply held religious beliefs who may not be directly affiliated with a faith-based organization.”

“This rule will likely discourage many good parents from seeking to help these children and instead possibly attract individuals who would prey upon them.” said Terry Schilling, President of the American Principles Project. “It also calls on agencies to investigate and even possibly remove foster children from parents who do not use their preferred pronouns, provide them with LGBT ‘materials,’ or facilitate access for them to gender transitions.”

This is just the latest in a long list of Biden administration policies that threaten religious liberty. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has repeatedly found ways to attack those who desire to live, work or serve in a manner consistent with their faith.

First Liberty has taken action on this front. Our legal experts submitted several public comments to the administration expressing our opposition. We explained that many of these rules raise serious legal and constitutional concerns. You can learn more below:

The Biden administration continues to use the alphabet soup of federal agencies to target and harass religious Americans. It often claims that new agency regulations and guidance are about promoting equality before the law or stopping discrimination. That’s not the case. It’s clear what this is really about: forcing people of faith to violate their religious convictions and making them conform to a radical ideology.

Forcing social service organizations and individual Americans to violate their faith is wrong. Government should not punish or attack those who are trying to help the most vulnerable among us, simply because they want to serve consistent with their religious beliefs. It betrays what religious freedom in America is all about.

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