On November 4th, 2020, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia regarding discrimination in child welfare under the guise of religious freedom.
In communities across the country, faith-based organizations play an integral role in providing social services to those in need. Federal, state, and local laws ensure that religiously affiliated groups are not excluded from government contracting as long as they meet the same eligibility and operating requirements as non-religious groups. These standards ensure that public services are open to all.
But some faith-based providers are seeking special exemptions from these requirements, claiming a right to discriminate as a matter of religious freedom. If successful, private agencies could deny services to LGBTQ+ people, those who do not share their religious beliefs or are not religious – and continue receiving taxpayer funding. Faith-based foster care and adoption agencies have used these policies to reject qualified prospective parents, artificially restricting the pool of potential placements and forcing children to remain in the child welfare system longer than necessary.
The Supreme Court will consider whether Catholic Social Services, a child welfare provider in Philadelphia, must comply with local nondiscrimination laws – or receive a license to discriminate with taxpayer funds.
“Friends of the Court”
We joined national interfaith allies in an amicus brief calling for the fair, just, and equal treatment of all. Together, we urge the Court to ensure that religious freedom stands as a shield to protect religious belief and practice, not a sword to undermine the rights of others.
Interfaith Alliance was among the first faith-based organizations to shift the perspective on LGBTQ+ equality from challenge to solution, from a scriptural argument to a religious freedom agreement. Today, we are at the forefront of the fight for equality.