ADL Says Federal Religious Exemption for Foster Care Program is Discriminatory, Shameful and Immoral

New York, NY, January 23, 2019 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) blasted as “shameful, illegal and immoral” today’s decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services granting an exemption to a South Carolina faith-based foster child program allowing it to openly discriminate against Jews, gay couples and others who don’t follow their faith.

“It is shocking that the federal government is openly sanctioning discrimination against Jews, LGBTQ and others. Allowing a taxpayer funded agency to discriminate against Jews and other minorities is outrageous and sets a dangerous precedent for our nation. This is clearly unlawful and will not hold up in court,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “No child should be denied a loving foster or adoptive home simply because a prospective parent is Jewish or Muslim, gay or lesbian. We have been fighting this prospective exemption for many months and will forcefully oppose today’s decision by HHS.”

In October, ADL wrote to HHS expressing deep concern about allowing federally funded foster agencies to discriminate unlawfully against prospective parents on the basis of religion. The waiver request was based on a local faith-based foster care agency, Miracle Hill Ministries, prospectively losing its federal funding because of the agency’s religious requirements for foster families, which prohibited foster placement with non-Christian families. Miracle Hill reportedly already rejected one local Jewish woman who sought to be a volunteer mentor for children. Gov. Henry McMaster had requested an exception on Miracle Hill’s behalf in March 2018, and the Administration for Children and Families, a branch of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, granted an exemption on Wednesday.

In South Carolina, 4,600 children are already in foster care and an additional 1,500 children are seeking foster homes.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.