I wanted to share this sign-on letter with you denouncing HHS’s recent actions to allow discrimination by taxpayer-funded child placement agencies in South Carolina.
HHS granted this exemption in response to a request from South Carolina on behalf of a state-contracted child welfare agency–Miracle Hill, which made clear to a Jewish volunteer that she would not be permitted to serve as a foster parent or mentor because of her religion, in violation of the HHS regulations. Miracle Hill has also turned away Catholic families who wanted to serve children in foster care.
While prior Administrations have wrongly used RFRA to allow taxpayer-funded employment discrimination, here they are using it to justify discrimination against people using a government program, which is a drastic departure from prior understanding of the rules governing partnerships with faith-based groups. This could lead to exemptions in any number of government-funded social service programs.
Last year when the South Carolina legislature considered legislation that would also allow this sort of discrimination, you signed a letter urging the governor to veto it (attached). This issue is related and equally troubling and thus, we hope you can sign the letter to HHS as well.
The deadline has been extended to February 13.