Supremes praised for protecting foster children

Faith-linked organizations on Thursday were praising the Supreme Court’s decision that means the city of Philadelphia cannot force Catholic Social Services to violate its biblical beliefs in order to comply with the city’s “non-discrimination” requirement concerning unmarried and same-sex duos.

The court’s unanimous ruling demolished Philadelphia attempt to “cancel” Christian foster care agencies that refused city demands to violate their biblical standards and refer children to unmarried or same-sex couples.

Becket Senior Counsel Lori Windham, who had argued on behalf of the plaintiffs, said, “It’s a beautiful day when the highest court in the land protects foster moms and the 200-year-old religious ministry that supports them.

“Taking care of children, especially children who have been neglected and abused is a universal value that spans all ideological divides. Today, I am grateful that the Supreme Court protected heroes of the foster care system like Sharonell and Toni, who give of themselves daily to care for children in need.”

Sharonell Fulton, one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement released through her counsel, “My faith is what drives me to care for foster children here in Philadelphia and I thank God the Supreme Court believes that’s a good thing, worthy of protection.”

“The justices understand that foster parents like me share in the common, noble task of providing children with loving homes,” said Toni Simms-Busch, also a foster mom and named plaintiff. “Our foster-care ministry in Philadelphia is vital to solving the foster care crisis and Catholic Social Services is a cornerstone of that ministry. The Supreme Court’s decision ensures the most vulnerable children in the City of Brotherly Love have every opportunity to find loving homes.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the decision “is a substantial win for religious liberty. In a time of growing hostility towards religion the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of this fundamental freedom is even more critical.”

He continued, “Despite the pitiful dearth of foster-care agencies in the United States, the Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia excluded a faith-based charity from helping to meet the growing need, based upon their religious beliefs that compel them to serve. If these and other government leaders really do care for the marginalized and needy as they claim, then they must realize you cannot rob charities of their religious beliefs and still expect their religious works that aid others. It is those very beliefs from which their service springs.

“Increasingly, the Left refuses to tolerate the slightest deviation from their political orthodoxy regardless of who suffers as a result. While we stop to celebrate and thank God that the Supreme Court reaffirmed religious liberty today, we are fully aware and prepared for the attacks of the Left on this fundamental, God-given freedom to continue unabated,” he said.

The FRC’s research fellow for legal and policy studies, Katherine Beck Johnson, noted, “Today’s unanimous decision is a clear win for religious liberty. While the court will have more work to do in the months and years ahead, this opinion is a blow in favor of the First Amendment when it is increasingly under assault.”

Mary Beth Waddell, the FRC’s director of federal affairs for family and religious liberty, added, “Many women facing unplanned pregnancy are in the darkest times of their lives and seek out faith-based organizations for help. This ruling helps ensure that they and their children will have every possible resource available to them.”

Kelly Shackelford, chief of First Liberty Institute, explained, “Punishing religious organizations for acting consistently with their sincerely held religious beliefs is wrong. The court ensured that religious adoption providers can continue their centuries-old work serving families and children without suffering government discrimination because they believe that the best home for a child includes a mother and father. This is a tremendous victory for religious liberty.”

Alliance Defending Freedom general counsel Kristen Waggoner said, “Every child in need of a forever home deserves the chance to be adopted or cared for by a foster family. That’s what it means to keep kids first. The Supreme Court’s decision today allows that to continue happening. The government can’t single out people of certain beliefs to punish, sideline, or discriminate against them. We’re grateful for the good decision today consistent with that principle. And so now is the perfect time for the high court to address a religious freedom question that has been pending for years in Arlene’s Flowers, the case of Washington floral artist Barronelle Stutzman. She has waited far too long for justice—now is her time.”

She continued, “As the Supreme Court wrote in its Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, which I argued on behalf of cake artist Jack Phillips, it is not ‘the role of the State or its officials to prescribe what shall be offensive.’ Despite that, Jack has been sued twice more, Barronelle continues to live with the threat of losing her business and life savings, and numerous others exist with the looming possibility of unconstitutional government coercion and punishment, all because they won’t act contrary to their faith and conscience. The Supreme Court’s intervention is sorely needed to end this abuse of power.”

The court opinion said, “Government fails to act neutrally when it proceeds in a manner intolerant of religious beliefs or restricts practices because of their religious nature.”

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