Children wind up in foster care for a myriad of tragic and heartbreaking reasons, but never by any fault of their own.
So, imagine the audacity and gall of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americans United for Separation of Church and State stepping into the issue of foster care in South Carolina and deliberately making a bad situation worse.
That’s exactly what happened when both organizations tried to stop representatives from the Palmetto State from working with faith-based foster care agencies to find safe and loving homes for children separated from their biological families.
Back in 2018, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order confirming the fact that “faith-based organizations may retain their religious character and participate in government programs, provided that public funds are not used to directly subsidize or support religious activities.”
That directive was too much for the likes of the ACLU, who sued to stop faith-based agencies from helping the nearly 4,000 children in South Carolina’s foster care system.
On Friday, a federal court ruled in favor of Governor McMaster, faith-based foster care agencies – and the children eager for help, homes, and healing.
“These two rulings from the U.S. District Court represent significant wins for religious liberty and South Carolina’s faith-based organizations like Miracle Hill, which will be able to continue their crucial mission of connecting children in foster care with loving homes,” said Governor Henry McMaster in a statement.
“These victories will directly benefit countless children by further ensuring that faith-based organizations will not be forced to abandon their beliefs to help provide critical services to our state’s youth.”
In its ruling, the court pointed out what many of us have long maintained: the inclusion of faith-based agencies in the mix doesn’t preclude other secular agencies from participating in the process. As the judge declared, those objecting to the faith-based groups “could (have) foster(ed) the same children at any of twenty-six other private agencies in the State, including eighteen in the Upstate or with the State itself.”
Lori Windham, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions, and which represented Governor McMaster, said:
“This is a major victory for the children in South Carolina’s foster care system who were at risk of losing out on loving homes. The attempt to shutter faith-based foster care agencies and decrease the number of foster homes for these kids violated the law and common sense. We are glad that South Carolina stood up for foster children and faith-based agencies and that the court protected them.”
Why groups like the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State are willing to harm children for the sake of their radical, harmful, mean-spirited, and unconstitutional crusade defies logic and basic human decency.
Children embroiled in the foster care system need all the advocates they can muster. We can hope this significant judgement in South Carolina puts on notice other agitators who are inclined to try and score points at the expense of the most vulnerable among us.
Earlier this summer, the New York Post’s Naomi Riley cited a startling revelation from Ronald Richter, who serves as the executive director of the JCCA, a child welfare organization established in 1822. Mr. Richter said the foster care system is broken and getting worse. To bolster his claim, he revealed the JCCA spent $30,000 to fix broken widows last spring – and over $200,000 this year.
Thanks to South Carolina’s win for children and foster care agencies, there should be less shattered glass to sweep up – and more healing to shattered lives this coming year.