Should religious liberty protections be extended to allow adoption agencies to reject parents on religious grounds? According to the UPI, A proposed law in Texas would allow adoption agencies to reject potential parents based upon the adoption agency’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Should faith-based provider agencies be given this protection? Supporters of Texas House Bill 3859 firmly believe so.
The Texas bill if enacted into law would prevent the government or anyone working with the state’s child welfare system who operates within Texas under government authority from filing lawsuits or take any adverse action against faith-based adoption agencies. In addition, the religious adoption agency staff would be given legal protection to refuse to facilitate or provide adoption services and contraception to teens under their care.
The opposition is certainly positioned to take action against the bill while it is being debated in the Lone Star state legislature. Even now opponents are claiming that the religious protected agencies would be given carte blanche to discriminate against any parent that was gay or belonged to a religion that the adoption agency considered inappropriate.
The bill is being opposed by the Texas state branch of the ACLU. In a statement the organization claims, “It would also authorize providers to use religion to deny reproductive healthcare to a teen in their care, regardless whether the teen shares those religious beliefs.” The statement furthers stressed, “HB 3859 would allow child welfare service providers that contract with the state to use taxpayer money to discriminate against LGBT individuals and families in foster care, adoption and other services.”
The author of the bill, Texas Republican Rep. James Frank, disagrees with the ACLU assessment. He said in a recent Facebook post, that the Texas Child Protective Services faces challenges that faith-based adoption agencies could help alleviate. In addition, religious-based agencies make up approximately 25 percent of all adoptions agencies in Texas. That is a crucial point.
Rep. James Frank pointed out, “One of our biggest challenges is a lack of adequate, quality foster homes … Unfortunately, the ability of many of the faith-based institutions to continue offering services is threatened by the prospect of litigation for declining to provide certain services (such as abortion) because of sincerely held religious beliefs.” He also stressed that, “At a time when we need all hands-on deck, we face the real risk of seeing a large number of these providers leave the field, as they are forced to make the choice between devoting a substantial amount of resources in fighting litigation and other adverse action, or using those resources on other services to fulfill the tenets of their faith.”