Today, American Atheists joined 125 national organizations to urge Secretary of Health and Human Services
"Ensuring that taxpayer-funded child placement agencies abide by nondiscrimination laws is not hostile to religion. Turning away people seeking to engage in government-funded services because they fail a religious test is," said the letter, signed by American Atheists and other members and allies of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD).
In January, the
CARD cautioned HHS against using the same flawed analysis of RFRA to justify expanding SC's exemption to the rest of the country; a nationwide license-to-discrimate would harm even more of the 400,000 children in the foster care system and the over 100,000 children who are waiting to be adopted by a forever family.
"The government should never fund religious discrimination, especially when it is vulnerable children who will pay the price," said American Atheists and the other signatories.
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The Coalition Against Religious Discrimination
Dear Secretary Azar:
We, the undersigned members and allies of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD), write to express our opposition to any rules the
CARD is a broad and diverse group of organizations formed in the 1990s to monitor legislative and policy changes impacting government partnerships with religious and other nonprofit organizations and, in particular, to oppose government-funded religious discrimination. Our coalition members appreciate the important role religiously affiliated and other community-based institutions historically have played in addressing many of our nation's most pressing social needs, as a complement to government-operated programs; indeed, many members of CARD are directly involved in this work. We also recognize that the separation of church and state is the linchpin of religious freedom. In our view, effective government collaboration with faith-based groups does not require the sanctioning of federally funded religious discrimination.
In January, HHS used a gross misinterpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to justify exempting
An Exemption Would Harm Children and Parents
Children in foster care have been entrusted to the state for care, stability, and safety. Adoption and foster care agencies that accept government funds to serve these children have a duty to act in the best interests of each child. Using a religious litmus test to reject qualified and caring parents who want to foster and adopt, however, makes it even more difficult for these children to find a loving home. Indeed, a religious test reduces the number of qualified foster and adoptive parents who are able to open their homes to these children. We cannot allow the religious beliefs of a government-funded agency to override the best interest of our most vulnerable children.
In addition, an exemption would clearly harm potential parents who are rejected from the government program. No qualified parent should be denied the opportunity to provide a loving home to children in need because they are the "wrong" religion.
An Exemption Would Harm Religious Freedom
Some of us were members of the
Religious freedom, which is a core American value, requires that those who perform government services must serve everyone, regardless of religion. Ensuring that taxpayer- funded child placement agencies abide by nondiscrimination laws is not hostile to religion--turning away people seeking to engage in government-funded services because they fail a religious test is.
Because an exemption will harm children and families and violate our nation's fundamental protections for religious freedom, we urge you to end consideration of any proposed regulations.
African American Ministers In Action
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
BPFNA ~ Bautistas por
Catholics for Choice
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Clearinghouse on Women's Issues
Congregation of Our Lady of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
Disciples Justice Action Network
Franciscan Action Network
Freedom for All Americans
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
Healthy Teen Network
The Lavender Effect
Men of Reform Judaism
Muslims for Progressive Values
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Center on Adoption and Permanency
National Equality Action Team (NEAT)
National Health Law Program
National Women's Health Network
Network of Jewish Human Services Agencies
People For the
T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Uri L'Tzedek: Orthodox Social Justice
Voice for Adoption
Witness to Mass Incarceration
Women of Reform Judaism
YATOM: The Jewish Foster & Adoption Network