Catholic Conference Urges Support for Conscience Rights for Faith Based Child Placement Services

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

(Lansing)—Faith based adoption and foster care agencies must be able to operate according to their faith tradition without administrative, judicial or legislative interference, Michigan Catholic Conference testified before the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee today in support of House Bills 5763 and 5764. The legislation has become increasingly important as across the country numerous Catholic Charities agencies, which for decades have provided social services for poor and neglected children, are being forced to close their doors following judicial ruling or discriminatory legislation that mandates the agency to operate outside its religious tenets.

“Forcing a faith based child placement organization to operate in direct contradiction of that entity’s religious belief is an attack on constitutionally protected religious liberty rights and a blatant disregard for the thousands of vulnerable children served by such agencies,” said Tom Hickson, Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy. “We’ve seen nationwide how discriminatory rulings and policies are forcing institutions to choose between closing their doors and violating their own faith tradition. This legislation will protect religious liberty rights and ensure faith based placement services for neglected and vulnerable children."

According to House Bills 5763 and 5764:

  • No child placement agency would be required to recommend, refer, or participate in a placement that violates the written religious or moral convictions or policies.
  • The government could not be allowed to deny grants, contracts, or participation in a program because of moral or religious objections.

Last year, Catholic agencies facilitated approximately 10 percent of the adoptions in the state of Michigan. Catholic Charities agencies in Illinois, San Francisco and Boston no longer provide placement services for poor and neglected children after being forced by the state to violate their beliefs. Similar legislation has been introduced in past legislative sessions in Michigan, but House Bills 5763 and 5764 would ensure that Catholic and other faith based adoption and foster care agencies will continue, in their faith traditions, to assist the state with child placement services for decades to come.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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