Sen. Lee, colleagues introduce bill to protect faith-based child welfare providers
By Holly Richardson
Senator Mike Lee today joined Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and 21 of their colleagues in introducing the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, a bill to protect organizations that provide adoption and foster care services from discrimination based on their religious or moral beliefs.
“Religious institutions and faith-based groups have long provided some of the best adoption services in the country,” said Sen. Lee. “This bill will protect their right to keep doing so in accordance with their beliefs, and ensure that children are not unnecessarily prevented from being adopted into loving homes.”
“In South Carolina and across the country, faith-based foster care providers support the 400,000 children in our foster care system who—through no fault of their own—have nowhere else to go,” said Sen. Tim Scott.
“At a time when religious freedoms are under assault, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act is a necessary protection for those who are living according to their convictions. I am grateful my colleagues are standing with me to protect this most fundamental right.”
U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-Penn.) introduced companion legislation in the House. “Several state and local governments are requiring faith-based adoption agencies to choose between helping kids and violating their religious faith,” said Rep. Mike Kelly. “This blatant attack on the First Amendment makes it even harder for children to find loving homes. We must stand up for kids, protect these organizations, and defend religious liberty. I am proud to author this legislation.”
The full list of cosponsors includes: Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Kennedy (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Supporting organizations include: Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Heritage Action, and the Family Research Council. “Far too many children are waiting, right now, either for adoption or foster families. Our government must not stand in the way of those seeking to care for them. It is difficult to imagine a more important goal for child welfare policy than the goal of seeing vulnerable children who need a loving home be united with families committed to caring for them. Protecting the rights of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies only ensures that more children will have access to the love and support they so desperately need. This is precisely what the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act would do.” – Russell Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
- The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act would protect child welfare providers from being discriminated against for acting in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs.
- Specifically, the bill would prohibit federal, state, and local government agencies that receive federal adoption assistance funding from discriminating against child welfare service providers based on the providers’ unwillingness to take action contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.
- This would include all agencies that receive funding under Part B (Child and Family Services) or Part E (Federal Payments for Foster Care, Prevention, and Permanency) of Title IV of the Social Security Act.