Baptist Group: Government Foster Care Programs Should Serve All Qualified Parents - Word&Way

Baptist Group: Government Foster Care Programs Should Serve All Qualified Parents

Supreme Coort building

In what could be a high-profile Supreme Court case in the upcoming term, BJC (also known as Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) joined other Christian denominational entities and representatives in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to find that requiring government contractors to adhere to nondiscrimination policies when performing a government function does not burden religion.

Supreme Coort building

In this Feb. 1, 2017 photo, the Supreme Court is seen in the morning in Washington. (Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press)

BJC filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Thursday (Aug. 20) in Fulton v. Philadelphia, a case in which Catholic Social Services challenges the city of Philadelphia’s foster care contracting practices. The city requires contracting agencies that recruit, screen, train, and certify foster parents to adhere to the city’s nondiscrimination law, which prohibits the agencies from rejecting prospective foster parents based on religion, sexual orientation, and other protected categories.

“By requiring that government-funded foster care agencies consider all qualified individuals, the city is ensuring that all communities — including religious communities — are treated with equality and dignity,” BJC General Counsel Holly Hollman said in a statement about the brief.

“This policy also protects the viability of government partnerships with religious organizations that serve people in need. The government has an obligation to ensure that children who need foster care can be placed in safe homes,” she added. “Denying certification of an otherwise qualified foster parent based on something like religion or sexual orientation prevents children from getting essential care.”

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America joined BJC’s brief. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Fulton v. Philadelphia on November 4.