Gay rights and non-Christian groups have opposed the waiver.
The U.S. Government has granted religious liberty to government-funded foster care agencies in South Carolina to discriminately deny non-Christians and gay couples who wish to be foster parents. As per the requirements of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) waiver, any family rejected by Miracle Hill must be directed to the Department of Social Services.
Miracle Hill Ministries was forced to ask for a waiver as an Obama-era legislation expressly prohibits publicly funded and licensed foster care agencies to serve exclusively to particular religions. Henry McMaster, the Governor of South Carolina, had requested the waiver. The governor credited President Trump for ensuring that South Carolina keeps the maximum number of groups to help place all foster children. Miracle Hill is responsible for about 15 percent of South Carolina’s foster care placements. Before the waiver, the foster care agency was at risk of losing its license due to the Obama-era regulation.
Reid Lehman, the CEO of Miracle Hill, issued a statement saying the exemption decision permits his organization to hold on to its license and continue to serve almost 200 foster children. He termed the bureaucratic procedure as Miracle Hill's right to exist.
Non-Christian groups and gay rights activists opposed the waiver. They said it would slash down the number of individuals who want to be foster parents. Such an exemption, they pointed out, also permits using public money to remove fundamental rights. Christina Wilson Remlin, who is the lead lawyer of the organization Children’s Rights, held no punches. She termed this decision “state-sanctioned and government-funded discrimination.” The group has previously filed a case and won against South Carolina over the state’s foster care system. According to Children’s Rights, a disproportionately huge number of children are now present in institutions, and too many children are taken far away from their respective biological families. The state, the organization alleged, has denied treatment leading to non-satisfaction of the foster children’s medical needs.
— Sidekick (@waldosjournal) January 23, 2019
The CEO of civil rights group Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, said his group fought the exemption for months and was shocked the administration has granted a waiver which enables discrimination against all non-Christians by a federal government-funded adoption agency.
- Huffington Post
- NBC News
- South Carolina Office of the Governor Henry McMaster -Request for Deviation or Exception from HHS Regulations 45 CFR § 75.300
- South Carolina Office of the Governor Henry McMaster -Gov. Henry McMaster Statement on U.S. Department and Health and Human Granting Religious Freedom Waiver Request