On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it will remove regulations that burden faith-based organizations and will ensure that religious and non-religious organizations are treated equally.
“President Trump’s administration is taking historic action to protect religious social service providers from discrimination in federal regulations,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “Americans of faith play an essential role in providing healthcare and human services to so many vulnerable people and communities, and President Trump is dedicated to removing every unfair barrier that stands in the way of this important work. Americans from every walk of life deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Our Constitution and civil rights laws ensure equal treatment and today’s action makes clear that the federal government cannot discriminate against people and institutions based on how they live out the dictates of their faith.”
These new rules build upon an earlier executive order issued by President Donald Trump in 2018 and would “eliminate the Obama-era requirements from department regulations.”
It’s a great move by HHS, and one that will help religious organizations and charities actively apply for more grants to support children, women and men, both nationally and internationally.
Dr. Sharen Ford, Focus on the Family’s Director of Foster Care and Adoption, in a statement to The Daily Citizen said, “Faith-based social service agencies’ foremost desire is to serve the children and families in their community. This policy removes barriers which will allow them to recruit, train and equip families of faith to meet the needs of vulnerable children. Equality means that that there is room at the table for all organizations to serve those in need without discriminating against a group, particularly because of their faith. Children are best served when we can all come together to do what’s fair and just.”
This change will let faith-based adoption agencies continue operating with their religious and moral convictions, especially when it comes to marriage, without losing out on federal dollars. It will also allow pro-life pregnancy resource centers to apply for and receive more grants to help women and families across the country. Of course, pro-abortion and pro-LGBT organizations are calling foul.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood said, “Today, as part of a series of similar rules released across several federal agencies, the Trump-Pence administration’s HHS and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) proposed religious refusal rules that would strip away critical protections from people who rely on federally funded health and social service programs both domestically and abroad. The rules also make it substantially easier for faith-based organizations to receive tax-payer funding while simultaneously promoting their religion.”
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT activist group in the U.S., said, “Today’s new regulations proposed by the Trump-Pence White House roll back existing protections for LGBTQ and other people seeking government services and benefits. … These regulations would dismantle meaningful protections for beneficiaries of these federally funded programs and strip away basic notice requirements designed to ensure that beneficiaries know their rights to be free from discrimination and their right to an alternative, non-religious provider. … It’s the latest effort in a three-year campaign by the Trump-Pence administration to sanction discrimination against LGBTQ people under the guise of religion.”
So, it is okay to discriminate against a religious organization because of their beliefs, but not to supposedly “discriminate” against those with a progressive agenda?
Faith-based organizations will help anyone who needs assistance, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity. It is true that the vast majority wouldn’t dispense something like hormone blockers for someone interested in gender transition, although they may suggest counseling. A pro-life pregnancy resource center would never refer a woman for an abortion, instead they would give her resources and support. A faith-based adoption agency will want to find a home with a mother and a father for a child, not a same-sex couple.
But these religious organizations will always help those in need.
I’ve had the privilege of working in two faith-based organizations, Focus on the Family and Samaritan’s Purse. The men and women at each ministry sacrifice their time, talents and abilities, and sometimes even risk their lives, to help families and people who are dealing with crises, whether it’s a natural disaster or a family that’s falling apart. Sometimes, the situations are life and death, but these organizations never turn away someone in need.
These new regulations from HHS may seem tedious to those outside the Beltway, but individuals and families across the country will benefit from these changes. Religious organizations that provide social services should not have their influence diminished based on their beliefs.