Religious Groups Use Needy Children as Pawns
Two Christian adoption agencies in Philadelphia are under attack - and under review - after being caught with policies refusing same-sex couples and LGBT people from adopting children in their care. In the last year alone the City of Philadelphia has paid them a total of $3 million to care for the children in need of loving homes. Those payments are now on hold and an investigation into both agencies is underway.
Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services are bth refusing to alter their policies, insisting same-sex marriage is not in keeping with their religious beliefs, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
"This has been our practice throughout our nearly 75 years of operation and is based on our adherence to what we believe to be foundational Biblical principles," a spokesman for Bethany Christian Services told the Inquirer.
"Catholic Social Services is, at its core, an institution founded on faith-based principles," a spokesman for the Philadelphia Archdiocese said. "The Catholic Church does not endorse same-sex unions, based upon deeply held religious beliefs and principles. As such, CSS would not be able to consider foster care placement within the context of a same-sex union."
In years past anti-gay activists and the Catholic Church have falsely claimed Boston's Catholic Social Services adoption agency was "forced" to shut its doors in 2006 because it refused to allow LGBT people adopt. In reality, its board members voted to allow LGBT people to adopt, but it chose to close rather than allow same-sex parents adopt.
Philadelphia's Department of Human Services says it was unaware of the policies of the two agencies, and Mayor Jim Kenney tells WHYY he was surprised the groups have been allowed to discriminate.
"I think that two women or two men that happen to love each other or are married to each other who pass all the background checks and the financial circumstances and have a nice home should be able to welcome a foster child into their home."
He added, "we cannot use taxpayer dollars to fund organizations that discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation or because of their same-sex marriage status."
The ACLU is calling the refusal of the faith-based agencies to work with LGBT people "a tragedy for the kids of Philadelphia." Mary Catherine Roper, the Pennsylvania's ACLU's deputy legal director also says giving taxpayer funds to agencies refusing LGBT parents might be unconstitutional.
"A government doesn't get to use a contractor to implement religious programs and when you start saying, ‘We're running this as a religious program such that we won't take you because you don't fit our religious view,' then the city is paying for a religious program, and that's a problem under the First Amendment."
Philadelphia's Catholic Archdiocese is headed by the virulently anti-gay Archbishop Charles Chaput (photo). He has claimed same-sex marriage stops children from knowing parents love them. In 2015 he made parents sign a "Catholic identity" loyalty oath.