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  • Charities Become Collateral Damage in the Debate Over Marriage

    Children served by private adoption and foster care organizations are finding themselves among the victims of collateral damage of state decisions to legally recognize same-sex couples. From county courts to the U.S. Congress, the debate over protecting the conscience rights of religious institutions is heating up.

    Before Illinois passed a civil union law this spring, proponents of the measure promised the legislation would have no adverse effect on the religious liberty of private adoption agencies. Yet, just a few months after passage of the law, Illinois is trying to terminate all contracts with Catholic Charities. This week, a Sangamon County judge granted a temporary injunction against the state’s decision to end its relationship with the agencies, citing the significant harm such an abrupt termination would cause to children currently in Catholic Charities’ care. 

    This week’s legal tussle is just another episode in Illinois’ contentious battle over religious freedom. The state is using the new civil union law, lacking an explicit protection for religious liberty, to claim that Catholic Charities is violating Illinois’ sexual orientation non-discrimination policy. Catholic Charities abides by a long-standing policy of referring unmarried, cohabitating couples – regardless of sexual orientation – to secular organizations. An August trial will determine if the organization’s policy violates the new civil union law and whether it will be forced to stop serving 2,000 of Illinois’ most vulnerable children.

    Similar challenges may soon haunt religious adoption agencies in New York. When the Empire State legalized same-sex marriage a few weeks ago, an ill-defined protection for religious liberty raised concerns that religious adoption agencies may be forced to violate their beliefs about marriage and family – or close their doors. As the law comes into effect next week, some have predicted an increase in adoption inquiries by same-sex couples. If true, clarification of religious liberty protections in the same-sex marriage law may come sooner rather than later.

    Threats to the religious liberty of private adoption agencies are not confined to state legislatures. Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) has introduced legislation that would severely undermine the rights of conscience of foster care and adoption agencies across the country. The “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” would effectively strip both the funding and legitimization of private adoption providers who believe that children deserve the opportunity to experience the unique benefits of being raised by a married mother and father.

    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.

    To track policy updates on family and religion, subscribe to the Richard and Helen DeVos Center’s weekly newsletter, Culture Watch.


    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Charities Become Collateral Damage in the Debate Over Marriage

    1. Pylgrym47 says:

      This is another proof that the gay activist agenda is not about *equality*. Civil unions weren't enough, they demanded "marriage". "Marriage" will not be enough, but must be in a church; and not just in one of the churches that would accommodate them, but any church of any denomination. Now, should they wish to adopt, availing themselves of a secular organization will not be enough; it must be even religious organizations. They will push the envelope, challenge every boundary, until the very concept of "right of conscience" is eradicated.

      I'll be checking into that “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” and contacting my representative. Thanks for the heads-up.

      • Muslim and Jewish and Atheist couples are allowed to legally marry, and to the best of my knowledge none of them have ever FORCED churches to provide them wedding and other services. This isn’t going to change when Gay couples are allowed to legally marry as well. And as long as religious organization aren’t benefitting from MY tax dollars, I don’t really care who they discriminate against or preach against. All it illustrates is their own prejudices and discomfort. Pat Robertson and other evangelicals routinely preach against Islam, and have they been taken to court over it? Of course not! And it bears repeating (for the umpteenth time) that NONE of the legal benefits of marriage come from the church, they come from GOVERNMENT.

        In Charleston, West Virginia (where I live), there are several Gay-friendly churches that are more than willing to provide weddings for Gay couples. I would much prefer to take my money there, than to someplace where I am met with hostility.

    2. The question is not whether Catholic Charities in Illinois has "religious freedom" to discriminate against Gay couples, but whether they are accepting public funds in the process! Gay people are taxpayers too, and I don't want my tax dollars going to organizations that discriminate against me, any more than a Catholic would want his tax dollars going toward an organization that discriminates against Catholics.

      Catholic Charities of Boston went through this same situation years ago. I frankly couldn't care less if their adoption service discriminated against Gay couples or Muslim couples or whomever. Problem was, Catholic Charities of Boston were being funded by the State of Massachusetts to the tune of a million bucks per year! And they were given a choice: Either stop discriminating against Gay couples, or give up their public funding. They chose to give up the funding. Fine by me. You wanna feed at public trough, you'd better be prepared to play by the rules.

      • Ken Ramold says:

        Don't give me this garbage that if Catholic Charities gives up public funding that you'll be okay with that. History tells me, Chuck, that giving up public funding for adoption will not be enough to satisfy the radical gay community. You want full flegde public acceptence of gay adoption. Nature and studies for the last 40 years tells us that kids are better off emotionally with a male and female couple. You don't like that, take it up with Mother Nature.

        • Kate says:

          Chuck was making a valid point when he said that accepting taxpayer money means giving up your right to set your own rules. Chuck should not have to fund organizations that he finds morally objectionable. Isn't that why pro-lifers want to defund Planned Parenthood?

          Charities do not have a right to taxpayer money any more than corporations or individuals do. (Although this is, sadly, the reality we face today.) Free markets apply to nonprofits too. If they can't find enough people willing to donate to their cause, they should have to close their doors. It's as simple as that.

    3. Perry OK says:

      It is a shame and a true sham,but public trough is a true description of our socity. I don't discuss my sex life with strangers and I DO NOT Want to know or care about yours.

      As far as I am concerned a man and woman should raise children. Its kind of like the commercial. If you can't make them you should not have them.

    4. Bob-Sitka, AK says:

      Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

    5. Bob-Sitka, AK says:

      It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?
      Geo. Washington, Farewell Address

    6. YnotNOW says:

      So, Chuck, is your rule that Christians are OK to practice their religion as long as it is kept in the closet?

    7. Bobbie says:

      Well, if government programs THAT ARE ALREADY OFFERED IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR, are going to be defined benefits according to government regulations and WHO PAYS THE TAXES, WE WANT OUR TAX DOLLARS BACK as we want FREEDOM FROM THE NEED OF GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS!!!

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