FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 17, 2021

CONTACT
Manisha Sunil, West End Strategy Team
[email protected]; Phone: 202-417-0171

SCOTUS Foster Care Decision a Blow to Civil Rights, Endangers Children and Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON—Today’s decision by the Supreme Court in Fulton v. Philadelphia is a major blow to religious freedom and endangers already vulnerable children stuck in the foster care system, say interfaith activists. On the question of whether faith-based service providers should receive federal dollars for discriminatory practices, Katy Joseph, director of policy & advocacy for Interfaith Alliance, released the following statement:

“Today’s decision is a devastating blow to equality, religious freedom and, perhaps most importantly, thousands of children stuck in the churn of the foster care system who will now be forced to wait even longer for a loving home. 

The constitutional right to religious freedom protects the sanctity of personal belief. However, that freedom ends when the exercise of one’s faith would harm the rights or well-being of another. This decision vastly distorts our first freedom by allowing faith-based providers to needlessly restrict the pool of prospective foster and adoptive parents, forcing vulnerable children to suffer the trauma of state care longer than necessary.

“City regulations would not require anyone — a doctor, an employer, a case manager — to change their religious beliefs. It only intends to protect vulnerable communities from abuse and exclusion based on who they are and who they love, and ensure taxpayer money does not fund discrimination. 

“Religious freedom and nondiscrimination protections are complementary values, rooted in the fundamental principle that every person should be treated equally under the law. Taxpayer dollars should never pay for programs that exclude or discriminate against participants, especially when doing so would only exacerbate an urgent foster care crisis. I’m deeply disappointed that the Court refused to recognize that principle in this case.”

Since its inception, Interfaith Alliance has fought to ensure that tax dollars do not fund discrimination. The decision in favor of Catholic Social Services is a tremendous distortion of the First Amendment, allowing faith-based providers to needlessly restrict the pool of prospective foster and adoptive parents, forcing vulnerable children to suffer the trauma of state care longer than necessary. Learn more about our work furthering LGBTQ+ equality.

If you are interested in speaking further with Interfaith Alliance on this issue, please contact Manisha Sunil at (202) 417-0171 or [email protected].

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Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.