The US state of Michigan has brought in new measures which will enable Christian adoption agencies to operate in line with their sincerely-held beliefs.
Last week, Governor Rick Snyder signed three Bills into law which are intended to prevent “adverse action” against a private agency which has a contract with the state.
Faith-based adoption agencies in Illinois have had to shut down rather than comply with regulations forcing them to place children with same-sex couples.
The move came after a group called Bethany Christian Services wrote to Snyder, urging him to protect faith-based agencies.
In its letter to the Governor, Bethany Christian Services warned that faith-based agencies elsewhere are being forced to “choose between their desire to help children and families and their fidelity to their religious principles”.
Snyder’s office stated that faith-based agencies account for between 25 and 30 per cent of all foster care provision in the state.
A statement by Rick Snyder read: “The state has made significant progress in finding more forever homes for Michigan kids in recent years and that wouldn’t be possible without the public-private partnerships that facilitate the adoption process”.
Freedom of religion
One of the Bills put forward states that: “Private child placing agencies, including faith-based child placing agencies, have the right to free exercise of religion under both the state and federal constitutions.
“Under well-settled principles of constitutional law, this right includes the freedom to abstain from conduct that conflicts with an agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”
It continues: “Children and families benefit greatly from the adoption and foster care services provided by faith-based and non-faith-based child placing agencies.
“Ensuring that faith-based child placing agencies can continue to provide adoption and foster care services will benefit the children and families who receive publicly funded services.”
If an agency in Michigan turns away a prospective parent for religious reasons, it will have to refer them to another agency and provide a written list of alternative options.
Virtually all of Britain’s faith-based adoption agencies have been shut down, or have dropped their religious ethos, because of equality laws.