Adoption agency’s freedom to operate per its religious beliefs confirmed

It was only a little more than a year ago that the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that a Philadelphia foster and adoption agency could operate by its Christian standards, irrespective of the city’s so-called non-discrimination demands to promote the LGBT ideology.

Now a federal district court has ruled that the state of New York cannot shut down a faith-based provider of adoption services over its religious beliefs.

The details are being provided by the Alliance Defending Freedom which took on the case involving New Hope Family Services.

The state had threatened to order the organization to phase out its adoption program over the service’s standard of prioritizing the placement of children in homes with a married mother and father.

The court ruling ordered that the state be banned from enforcing its demands “insofar as it would compel New Hope to process applications from, or place children for adoption with, same-sex couples or unmarried cohabitating couples, and insofar as it would prevent New Hope from referring such couples to other agencies.”

The court said it would retain jurisdiction in the case to make sure its order is enforced.

The case had been up as high as the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The court’s decision is great news for children waiting to be adopted and for the parents partnering with New Hope Family Services to provide loving, stable homes,” said ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks. “New Hope is a private religious ministry that doesn’t take a dime from the government. Shutting down an adoption provider for its religious beliefs—needlessly and unconstitutionally reducing the number of agencies willing to help—benefits no one—certainly not children.”

He added, “New Hope’s faith-guided services don’t coerce anyone and do nothing to interfere with other adoption providers who have different beliefs about family and the best interests of children. The decision from the court simply allows New Hope to continue serving the community so that more kids find permanent homes, more adoptive parents welcome a new child, and more birth parents enjoy the exceptional support that New Hope has offered for decades.”

The case developed when the state’s Office of Children and Family Services targeted the nonprofit for its religious beliefs.

The court said, “New Hope has succeeded on the merits of its First Amendment claim against OCFS” and “the balance of the hardships is in New Hope’s favor; it faces harm to its rights under the First Amendment and is subject to closure if the Court does not issue a permanent injunction.”

New Hope offers adoption services, foster care placement and pregnancy resource center services.

It is funded by the fees paid by adoptive parents and donations.

“Every child deserves a home with a loving mother and father who are committed to each other,” New Hope Family Services Executive Director Kathy Jerman said in a statement released by her lawyers. “New Hope is an ‘arm-around-the-shoulder’ ministry that walks with adoptive families and birth parents alike to place children with adoptive families.”

The Supreme Court’s earlier ruling in the Philadelphia case demolished a move by the city to “cancel” Christian foster care agencies that refused city demands to violate their biblical standards and refer children to unmarried or same-sex couples.

“The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, applicable to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment, provides that ‘Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise’ of religion,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in that dispute.

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