Trump Budget Backs Discriminatory Religious Adoption Providers at Children’s Expense

For Immediate Release: March 12, 2019
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director - (207) 358-9785

A provision of President Trump’s budget proposal that would permit government-funded adoption and foster care providers to discriminate based on religion is a cruel pander to the religious right, said the Center for Inquiry, denouncing the provision for placing religious beliefs over the needs of vulnerable children.

line item in the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services states that the government will “protect the religious liberty of child welfare providers.” This comes shortly after the department granted a waiver permitting South Carolina to fund adoption and foster care groups that turn away prospective parents and children who do share their narrow religious beliefs. Banned adopters and children include Jewish families, non-conservative Christians, and LGBTQ individuals.

“This action dresses up callous discrimination as religious freedom,” said Jason Lemieux, CFI’s Director of Government Affairs. “This license to discriminate on the taxpayer dime hurts all citizens, including those forced to pay taxes to fund discrimination against loving Americans who wish to foster and adopt children, and, most importantly, the many vulnerable children denied a family and a safe, nurturing home.”

This provision marks the Trump administration’s continued eagerness to enforce the beliefs of the religious right with the force of law in return for electoral support. “We stand with our religious allies who defend real religious freedom – the right to worship and believe free from government interference,” continued Lemieux. “But contrary to what the religious right tells you, that does not give anyone the freedom to treat others as lesser Americans or to rob vulnerable children of the opportunity for a better life.”

“The standard for adoption and placement in foster care has always been clear – the best interests of the child,” said Nick Little, CFI’s Vice President and Legal Director. “That should be what matters. Can the prospective parents provide a safe, loving, and welcoming home for a child? The Trump administration is here placing the beliefs of an agency above the needs of children. Religious or nonreligious, that should be acceptable to no one.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at