The Latest Religious Freedom Battleground: Adoption Centers

A playbook developed by religious interest groups was used to push controversial new laws in statehouses nationwide.
June 21, 2019 AT 8:10 AM

By Center for Public Integrity/ USA Today

Aimee Maddonna, 34, a South Carolina mother of three, was turned away by a state-funded foster care agency because she is Catholic.

Maddonna went to Miracle Hill Ministries in Greenville, the state’s largest foster care outlet, asking to volunteer in hopes of one day becoming a foster parent. But the initial screening was cut short after she was asked the name of her church.

“I said, ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’ and her exact words were, ‘You sound like you’d be the perfect mentor but we only accept Protestant Christians.”

“Saying that the majority of the population is not suitable only because of their religion…that’s archaic,” Maddonna said.

Miracle Hill asked Maddonna to go to another child placement agency that does not have the “religious requirement.” Officials at Miracle Hill defend the policy and their doctrinal statement asking applicants to agree that the Bible is “the only…authoritative Word of God” — a statement that excludes Catholics and many other Christians who do not base their beliefs on the Bible alone.

But Maddonna responded by suing the government officials who made it legal this past year to deny services to anyone who conflicts with their religious beliefs.

And South Carolina officials are not alone. There are at least nine other states that have passed laws allowing child placement agencies to turn away anyone who doesn’t match their religious beliefs or moral convictions, including same-sex couples. Eight of these states have passed such exemptions in just the past three years. Among them: Texas, Alabama, Michigan and South Dakota.

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