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Opinion: Anti-religious bias imperils foster kids

To most people, helping orphans and children in the foster system find stable homes seems like a top priority — the kind of priority that transcends politics and ideology. Unfortunately, however, those vulnerable children are quickly losing their advocates — and their hope for a stable, loving family — because of rampant anti-religious bias in American society today.

In the United States, more than 400,000 children in the foster system are waiting for homes. Around 4 percent of children are adopted within a year of entering foster care, and 85 percent of children in foster care have at least two placements in their first 12 months. Eighty percent of prospective foster parents who work with the state drop out within two years. All this adds up to the terrible reality that a massive number of children are spending crucial years of their lives without a stable home environment. The foster crisis is so extreme that some states are hosting foster children in hotels and office buildings because there is nowhere else to place them.

Despite this, however, several state governments — spurred on by LGBT activist groups — are seeking to shut down some of the most effective foster care and adoption providers in the country. The reason? These providers believe that children do best in homes with a married mother and father, and they want to place children into those environments. And though the Constitution guarantees the right to live and work in accordance with our deeply held beliefs, state governments across the nation are determined to punish religious groups, even if it means hurting vulnerable children.

Same-sex couples and unmarried couples have plenty of options when it comes to fostering or adopting a child. Every state has identical requirements for opposite-sex and same-sex couples, and even LGBT advocacy groups admit that there are no state-level restrictions against same-sex couples fostering or adopting. In some states, however, private foster care and adoption providers are permitted to prioritize placement with married, opposite-sex couples if their reasons for doing so are based in religious convictions. And that, say the LGBT activists, is intolerable.

Many state governments are so cowed by political dogma that they are increasingly willing to compromise foster children’s best interests and shut down religious providers — even if there are laws specifically protecting them. In 2015, Michigan passed a law protecting the rights of faith-based foster care and adoption providers to operate consistently with their religious beliefs. But Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who took office this year, has violated that law, promising to cut off funding from faith-based providers that want to place children with a married mother and father.

This is anti-religious hostility, and it is similar to what the U.S. Supreme Court condemned in its ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In that case, the Supreme Court found that the state of Colorado had acted with unconstitutional hostility toward cake artist Jack Phillips, and it required the state to cease its hostile actions.

Red more at Detroit News. 

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