The US Department of Labor (DOL) has issued guidance protecting the right of religious organisations to be able to access public funding.
It implements the Executive Order ‘Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty’, by ensuring that religious organisations are not discriminated against when applying for grants.
The DOL states that receiving financial assistance does not affect the rights of such institutions to “govern themselves and to select board members on a religious basis”.
Gregory Baylor, Senior Counsel for religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom, said the guidance “affirms the value of religious liberty but goes one important step further to make these protections real and concrete”.
He commented: “Religious beliefs motivate many Americans to help their neighbors in need, and these individuals and organizations shouldn’t be forced to abandon their religious character or mission before partnering with the government.”
Money provided by the DOL cannot be used to directly fund “explicitly religious activities” such as worship, but receiving such funds does not prevent them from otherwise taking place.
Last year, the US Department of Health and Human Services said it would revise 2016 regulations which penalised agencies for refusing to place children with same-sex couples.
The new policy means that adoption agencies who place children exclusively with opposite-sex married couples can receive federal funding.
A UK Christian fostering and adoption agency is currently involved in a legal case after Ofsted downgraded its fostering service because it holds to the Christian view of marriage.
Cornerstone, which only places children with evangelical Christians, is challenging an unpublished report by the regulator that requires it to abandon its religious ethos.