Bishops back bill to protect faith-based foster care, adoption providers

Legislation introduced in the Senate and the House aims to protect “the cherished freedom of religious liberty” of faith-based foster care and adoption providers who believe children “deserve to be placed with a married mother and father,” the chairmen of three U.S. bishops’ committees said March 15.

The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2021 would prevent the federal government and any state receiving federal funds for child welfare services from taking “adverse action against a provider that declines to conduct its services in a manner that would violate its religious or moral principles.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., introduced iidentical bills in their respective chambers March 10.

The measure would cover all agencies that receive funding under Part B or Part E of Title IV of the Social Security Act. Part B covers child and family services, and Part E covers federal payments for foster care, prevention and permanency.

“Child welfare providers, who serve the needs and rights of children regardless of background, enjoy the cherished freedom of religious liberty like all Americans,” the bishops wrote in a letter of support to Scott and Kelly.

It was signed by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa, Oklahoma, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

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