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American Atheists Joins 125 National Organizations to Oppose Religious Discrimination in Foster Care and Adoption

Cranford, NJ—Today, American Atheists joined 125 national organizations to urge Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to stop considering any proposed regulation that would allow taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate in the name of religion.

“Ensuring that taxpayer-funded child placement agencies abide by nondiscrimination laws is not hostile to religion. Turning away people seeking to engage in government-funded services because they fail a religious test is,”  said the letter, signed by American Atheists and other members and allies of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD).

In January, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) used a gross misinterpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to allow South Carolina foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective volunteers and parents who are Catholic, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist, and atheist.

South Carolina’s discriminatory policy harms children by reducing the number of qualified foster and adoptive parents able to provide them a permanent home.

CARD cautioned HHS against using the same flawed analysis of RFRA to justify expanding SC’s exemption to the rest of the country; a nationwide license-to-discrimate would harm even more of the 400,000 children in the foster care system and the over 100,000 children who are waiting to be adopted by a forever family.

“The government should never fund religious discrimination, especially when it is vulnerable children who will pay the price,” said American Atheists and the other signatories.