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Federal Court Punishes Philly Faith-Based Foster Care Agency Over Biblical Views on Marriage

04-22-2019

A federal appeals court has upheld a new Philadelphia city policy that forbids Catholic Social Services from placing foster children with families due to the agency's longstanding religious beliefs about marriage.

As CBN News reported, Catholic Social Services has partnered with the city for over 50 years in placing foster children with families. Last year, the city threatened to close the agency because it disagreed with the agency's biblical belief that marriage is between one man and one woman -- even though not one LGBTQ couple had applied with the agency.

Represented by Becket, a non-profit public-interest law firm, Sharonell Fulton, a single mother who has fostered more than 40 children in 26 years, joined other foster parents licensed through Catholic Social Services to file a lawsuit against the city. 

"As a single mom and woman of color, I've known a thing or two about discrimination over the years," Fulton said in a press release. "But I have never known vindictive religious discrimination like this, and I feel the fresh sting of bias watching my faith publicly derided by Philadelphia's politicians. Today's court ruling lets Philadelphia continue that religious discrimination."

According to Becket, there are 6,000 foster children in the City of Philadelphia. The need to find those children homes is so dire that earlier this year the city put out an urgent call for 300 new families to become foster parents. But shortly after this call for help, the city inexplicably prohibited Catholic Social Services from placing any more children with the families it has certified—solely because of the agency's religious beliefs. 

There are dozens of families licensed to foster through Catholic Social Services who are willing to take in children, but because of the city's actions, their beds have remained empty for close to a year.

"This ruling is devastating to the hundreds of foster children who have been waiting for a family and to the dozens of parents working with Catholic Social Services who have been waiting to foster a child," Lori Windham, Becket senior counsel, said in a press release. "We're disappointed that the court decided to let the city place politics above the needs of kids and the rights of parents, but we will continue this fight."

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