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  • Civil Union Law Forces Catholic Charities to Drop Adoption Service

    Yet another faith-based organization has fallen victim to a state government’s refusal to defend religious liberty. After more than 100 years serving the most vulnerable children in Illinois, the Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Rockford will cease its state-funded adoption and foster care services today.

    The diocese decided to terminate its $7.5 million contract with the state of Illinois after policymakers failed to include a religious exemption in the state’s new civil unions law, effective today. Under the new law, Illinois foster care and adoption agencies may be forced to place children with unmarried, cohabitating couples—either homosexual or heterosexual. Faith-based adoption agencies are potentially vulnerable to increased liability if they continue to follow their moral convictions and refuse to place children in homes headed by unmarried couples.

    Unwilling to compromise their belief that children deserve the opportunity to grow up in a stable, married household and experience the unique benefits provided by both a mother and a father, Catholic Charities has effectively been forced to stop providing child services altogether. The diocese, which began caring for abandoned children shortly after its founding in 1908, will transfer almost 200 foster care families and the care of roughly 350 children to other Illinois adoption agencies. The Rockford diocese will close more than half of its offices in Illinois and lay off the agency’s 58 caseworkers and employees.

    Frank Vonch, a senior Catholic Charities official, explained the diocese’s difficult decision at a press conference:

    While we understand leaving this work will be very painful for our client families, employees, volunteers, donors and prayerful supporters, we can no longer contract with the State of Illinois whose laws would force us to participate in activity offensive to the moral teachings of the church—teachings which compel us to do this work in the first place.

    The Rockford diocese and other religious adoption agencies gave the Illinois legislature the opportunity to protect the very moral beliefs that inspire their care for vulnerable children. Catholic Charities repeatedly requested that a strong religious exemption be included in the civil union law that would allow it to continue a policy of referring unmarried, cohabitating couples to other adoption agencies.

    Instead, the civil union law places the Rockford diocese in an untenable situation: forcing it to choose between compromising its conscience on marriage and curtailing its commitment to charity. As Heritage Visiting Fellow Thomas Messner points out:

    When civil liability or equal access to government benefits depends on private citizens adopting the ‘official’ state position on controversial moral issues, the potential for infringement of religious liberty and rights of conscience is clear.

    Good reasons of broad civic importance exist for government to honor marriage and promote stable, mother–father households. Where government chooses to act contrary to this goal, policymakers should guarantee robust religious liberty—not impose burdens hostile to the conscience of institutions whose work advances civil society.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to Civil Union Law Forces Catholic Charities to Drop Adoption Service

    1. Chasoo says:

      This is what government is beginning to be and will be even more so in the near future. They will change all the laws in a way where they will control everything. From how we live, what we eat, how much income we'll be able to make and yes there will be an attack on our religion regardless of what your beliefs are.

    2. Advocates for Libert says:

      Perhaps the church is getting exactly what it deserves. Churches have abdicated marriage to the government, churches expect tax deductions and other exemptions that businesses and individuals cannot claim, churches turn to the government to aid the poor as they spend money on their own extravagances, etc.

      Churches should work to REDUCE government, not use the government to do their bidding. For instance, instead of working against civil unions and gay marriage, they should join forces with gay groups to get the government out of the relationship business, letting simple civil contracts prevail. This actually STRENGTHENS "traditional marriage." Different faiths can have their own "blessed" versions of these civil contracts. Such contracts could require counselling before a dissolving of contract (divorce) is allowed. People could use these contracts and get married in the faith's church, or they could create their own, passing on the faith's blessing of the union.

      Government should NEVER promote ANYTHING except for liberty. Churches can compete in the free market of ideas. If a man and a woman in a traditional marriage arrangement makes the best family (which is debatable with the divorce rate and the state of divorce court decisions), then that idea will flourish because of its success. Such ideas don't need PROMOTION from ANY government or bureaucrat.

      People of faith should ask themselves, "Do I need permission from the government? Would I rather have blessing from my Creator or my government slave master?"

    3. Bobbie says:

      No civil law contradicts common freedom unless both are being convoluted. Compliments of American government observed intolerances.

      It amazes me that any person be intimidated or intolerant of Christianity. Why following the most peaceful man on earth AND FROM THE MIDDLE EAST, is so hard for anyone to appreciate? Why this man taught all human qualities that may never have been found without him yet some are offended by him. Why this man taught peace and respect of fellow man and preached strength and courage! A man who killed no man nor had any man killed! Yet people are fearful, jealous, intimidated, and hateful of him. The most peaceful man that ever walked the earth! Just amazes me! Everyone just remember what our brother taught us, fear no man as no man can take the soul.

      Just another government made crisis ahead with deliberate persecution of Christianity! How pathetic. Please be strong to God's will and stay away from the evil influences of government. GOD SEES ALL!

    4. Freddy St Clair, Chi says:

      I always find it interesting how objective some religious leaders are toward the issue of gay marriage. How can you attempt to teach, love, compassion and not being judgmental and then turn around and cast stones at someone for loving someone?

      When two consenting adults choose to share one another’s life together, it really should be of no concern to anyone other than the two people involved! Religious leaders in this country also objected to interracial marriages, even after the civil rights movement was supposed to already grant African Americans equal rights!

      Why do these so called peaceful teachers continue to teach, intolerance, fear and ignorance? Why do they spend thousands of dollars and all their energy fighting against love and equality? If we are all created equal and we shall not pass judgments on one another, if all sins and created equal, how can my sexual orientation be such an abominable sin?

      More so and most importantly! If being an American and being born in this country is spouse to grant me with basic rights’ inherited from the American Constitution of Independence! Why is this happening? Isn’t one of those basic rights the pursuit to happiness? Furthermore where is the separation of government and religion being enforced here?

      I do not want to offend anyone’s religious beliefs. But at the same time enough is enough of this garbage! They are so wrong they are only reinforcing hate and teaching people that it’s okay to pass judgments because not everyone should have equality! Let’s face it, this was also done to black people in America and this mindset still hinders our society today!

      Did we the people not learn anything from history? We still suffer racism in this country because of these things! Yet we still want to show injustice and pass laws their forbid love and happiness from occurring. These actions convey the message, you’re equal but, not equal!

      Civil Unions are just another law that caters to the religious leader’s anti-gay agenda! I know it’s a step in the right direction but, isn’t also re-enforcing their equal but, not equal message! That alone is not good! Gay men and women are entitles to the same rights as heterosexual couples and until those rights are enforced and granted in this country, I personally will not settle for a civil union. It feels like I’m agreeing to be less, when I know I should have more! That’s almost like black and whites using different drinking fountains or separate restrooms! There is no equality there!

      Besides if you don’t believe in gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person! It’s really that simple! Isn’t that what being an American is all about? The freedom of choice! Besides I’m not asking the church to accept me or endorse my beliefs. I’m asking the American government to grant us our basic civil rights and freedoms as detailed in the US Constitution! Allow us to pursue happiness and give us the freedom to marry who we desire!

    5. Steve851 says:

      The church shouldn't be involved with the government to begin with, and the government shouldn't be funding charitable organizations, either the church or organizations like Planned Parenthood. Charities stand or fall on their own merit.

      This is $7.5 mil taxpayer dollars saved.

    6. Tim Johnson says:

      @Advocates for Liberty

      You said, "Government should NEVER promote ANYTHING except for liberty"

      What you don't seem to realize is that the ideas of freedom and liberty do not exist in any other place other than the religion of Christianity. I challenge you to name any other religious nation (Iran, Syria) or atheist nation (Russia) that supports liberty and freedom?

      There is no such thing as ‘secular liberty’. There is only two choices, either secular totalitarianism or Christian liberty. Pick one.

      Civil union laws and gay-marriage are an attack on liberty. They are an attack on civil rights. Here are 7 civil rights that these laws destroy.

      1. The rights of Children – the right to a two parent family, with a healthy environment containing a father and a mother.

      2. The rights of Parents – the right of parents to teach their children what is morally right and wrong

      3. The rights of Teachers/Schools – the right to teach children what a healthy family is and how important the family is to society

      4. The rights of private property – the right to own and operate a business/charity/ministry under your own motivation to produce a profit or help people and children in need. Private property is critical to the success of the free market, which is the only source of economic growth. The loss of private property is a loss of economic growth.

      5. The rights of free labor – the right to make personal judgments about personal decisions that are critical to the success of one's business and the reputation that its customers depend upon.

      6. The rights of religious freedom – the freedom of religious idea was the primary reason our nation was founded. Without the right to worship by living out a moral conviction in everyday life is slavery to the state in which the state has become a theocracy.

      7. The rights of freedom of speech – the freedom of speech is critical to our political process and the creation of new product development, which is the cornerstone of economic growth.

      A free people cannot remain free without remaining moral. Liberty cannot exist without a moral people. This is why it's not enough to be Libertarian supporter of Ron Paul to turn the nation around. Nor is it enough to be a conservative, without regard for the implications of the decline of morality.

      God was right, immorality leads to death and destruction and there is no way around it.

    7. kirrwed says:

      Criticism of the Church here is unfounded. The Church, like many non-profit organizations, was for 100 years providing a service to a large part of the citizens of Illinois. The state, if it did indeed believe in the freedom to profess religion, would not impose that the Church administer the service in accord with the terms that the state demands. The state is forcing the Church under threat of bankruptcy from lawsuit to serve a clientele which it chooses not to serve. This would be like the state telling whatever local homeless shelter that it has to start giving freebies to people making $100,000/year when its policy is not to do that. The Church offered to refer homosexuals applying for adoption to other non-Church-affiliated agencies. This was not satisfactory for the state because the state wanted the Church to fulfill the needs of a market that the Church did not want to serve. The state does not behave this way versus a number of non-profit organizations. Reasonable minds should appreciate anyone who wants to help the market of adoption in whatever capacity. All this does is bring the state under suspicion of attempting to neutralize the Church's influence in society.

    8. Judy says:

      What is sad is that these un-godly, immoral behaviors being pushed by the State of Illinois and elsewhere do not represent the majority view of most Americans. Wherever there has been a vote, the American people have voted overwhelmingly in favor of traditional marriage between one man and one woman. Rather the radicals pushing their unpopular and immoral views only represent a small majority of Left-wing Homosexual activists who have infringed upon the rights of Christians and what has been the traditional standard biblical view of a healthy family for centuries. Christians and people of faith need to speak up and stand up, or lose our societal foundations and any standard of moral decency, not to mention the loss of the protection of future generations of children affected by these un-godly rulings.

    9. Josh, Chicago says:

      Tim:

      False dichotomy much? If you don't know what I'm talking about, I've provided a couple of informative links. Logical fallacies are not a good way to start…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/fallacies

      I have a hard time believing that only Christians are concerned with freedom. Just look at Scandinavia today, for example.

      Also, keep in mind that the Catholic Church can still operate however they choose, they just cannot continue their discriminating ways with the help of Mr. and Mrs. Illinois Taxpayer. They chose to cease their adoption services and they blamed the state for cutting funding instead of themselves for maintaining a policy that goes against the law (as does this article). If a religious organization claimed that discriminating against blacks was an important part of their beliefs (as many in the US did as recently as the 1960's), should they too get an exemption to spread whatever message they want with public support?

      If you ask me, all children deserve a loving, caring, and supporting home. If you think foster care with 50 or more other children is preferable to a single parent or two mommies/daddies, I would love to hear your reasoning.

      Just my $0.02.

    10. Jayne B says:

      "yes there will be an attack on our religion regardless of what your beliefs are"

      Yes indeed, when on refuses to believe it's evil to love someone, they are given less rights.

    11. Jayne B says:

      "6. The rights of religious freedom – the freedom of religious idea was the primary reason our nation was founded. Without the right to worship by living out a moral conviction in everyday life is slavery to the state in which the state has become a theocracy."

      By forcing everyone to follow only certain standards, no matter how archaic, to a point of having it legislated into their lives is what many of us call religious liberty.

    12. Tim Johnson says:

      @Josh, Chicago

      You said, "Logical fallacies are not a good way to start" and then later you said, "If a religious organization claimed that discriminating against blacks was an important part of their beliefs .. should they too get an exemption to spread whatever message they want with public support?"

      What does being black has to do with sexual behavior? Thousands of people change their sexual behavior every day, the internet is full of testimonials, yet no one has ever changed the color of their skin. It’s interesting to see you use logical fallacies at the same time as accusing me of the same. This claim is easy to gain emotional support, which is why it is repeated over and over, but it has no supporting evidence and will never be able to overcome the thousands of people that testify against it.

      Therefore, making personal judgments about sexual behavior cannot be compared to discrimination against black skin color. Civil union laws are just that, they legalize discrimination against religious convictions. In so that the state takes on a moral and very much religious position, and becomes the defender against any other religious position. Civil unions are a state run religion, the creation of a theocracy.

      I wish there was another way, but we cannot legislate based on a behavior without destroying the freedoms and liberty of our nation as I have illustrated. The good news is that it is not necessary to redefine marriage to show respect and kindness to people that form same-sex relationships. They are equal is every way and have every right that they can be given – without destroying liberty.

      Marriage is not defined by the state, but by nature, in which a family is by natural definition the union of a male and a female. The natural family has existed since the beginning of time, before any state gave out marriage licenses. A state marriage license does not create a family. It simply recognizes a family for the benefit of society to product and raise the next generation. The more families, the more children are created to support society. And therefore the state has a vested interest in the promotion of families, more so than any other relationships, because they produce and raise the next generation which is vital to the survival of society.

    13. Nancy Bakos says:

      The Catholic church is involved in many charity organizations. The local church I attend is always giving donations to the local food shelf. The local nursing home senior citizens provides reduced or free meals at the senior citizen high rise. And, this is an evangelical run nursing home. People complain about the tax exempt status of church's. Nursing homes are also tax exempt as well. Let's tax everybody! Let's tax Planned Parenthood as well-as they have a tax exempt status. And, also our government gives them another 710million a year tfor overseas organizations linked to Planned Parenthood. How about GE??? Not one dime was paid in taxes and they also received government contracts(free money). My mom said-when you start pointing fingers-there's always a FINGER POINTING right back at you!

    14. Josh, Chicago says:

      Tim

      Are you suggesting that if black people could somehow choose to be white and alter their skin color, it would be acceptable to discriminate against them? I would hope not. The one thing in common that sexual orientation and skin color have is that Americans have systematically discriminated against both groups, including in the area of marriage (interracial marriage ended in Loving v. Virginia),which is why I drew the analogy.

      I also take issue with your interpretation of this law as being discriminatory when it actually gives more people access to more civil benefits. Whatever your religion may be, and whatever interpretation of which scriptures your religion prefers, there are other viewpoints and yours do not and should not constitute a monopoly. Should pork, shellfish, and cheeseburgers be criminalized because some Jews keep kosher? Are we discriminating against Jews by not having such a law?

      Part of why America is so great is because of its religious freedoms, but if a law goes against some people's religious beliefs, it is not inherently religious discrimination, nor does it constitute an establishment of religion, as you seem to think. Illinois Catholics can still practice their religion as they wish. People are always entitled to their own religions opinions, but this doesn't mean that they are entitled to see these opinions be a part of public policy. If you'd like to see a government system which is in complete accordance with the religious principles of most (if not all) of its citizens, look no further than the Middle East.

      You also seem to conflate the issue of marriage with nature and procreation. I would like to hear your thoughts on a marriage between an infertile male and female. To me, being infertile seems to be quite "unnatural" by whatever definition you would be using, and there's certainly no chance of childbirth by conventional means. Does this mean the state has no reason or obligation to recognize a marriage between these two people? The fact of the matter is that marriages and civil unions have secular, civil benefits that exist completely separate from religious interpretations of marriage, and the State is obligated to offer these civil benefits to everybody under the Equal Protection Clause.

    15. Bobbie says:

      Tim Johnson, you're dividing freedom into rights. That's what puts us into government social engineering.

    16. Bobbie says:

      while there are adoption agencies for everyone else, it is direct discrimination of this union law to infringe on the operations of a specific religious belief who fulfill the freedom of others to believe.

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