weather icon Light Rain

VICTOR JOECKS: Left’s war on religious liberty turns foster children into collateral damage

Many prominent leftist organizations would rather attack religious groups than see foster children placed in families.

Foster children are incredibly vulnerable. The fact that they’ve entered the system means they’ve experienced some sort of crisis, which could include abandonment, neglect or abuse. Being separated from one’s birth parent is another traumatic event, even if it’s necessary to save a child’s life. Trauma can have lifelong repercussions. Children in foster care are twice as likely to have learning disabilities or developmental delays. They are six times as likely to have behavioral problems.

It’s worse for the 23,000 children a year who age out of the foster care system without finding a forever family. Half of them will struggle with substance abuse. Sixty percent of the males will be convicted of a crime. Among females, 70 percent will be pregnant before they’re 21. Just 3 percent will receive a bachelor’s degree, compared with 25 percent who won’t receive a high school diploma or GED. Only half will be gainfully employed by 24.

It should be obvious that finding quality foster and adoptive families is an urgent and ongoing need. It can change the trajectory of a child’s life.

Many of the private agencies who find foster and adoptive parents have religious affiliations. The Catholic Church has been caring for orphans for thousands of years. In the United States, it operates numerous foster and adoption agencies.

Even if you aren’t Catholic, it shouldn’t be hard to acknowledge that the Catholic Church is doing incredible, life-changing work in this regard. There are also many Protestant foster and adoption groups.

Motivating these groups is the biblical command to care for orphans. But it’s this belief in the Bible that’s a hang-up for leftists. The Bible also states that marriage is between one man and one woman. Many of these Christian groups won’t place a child in home that doesn’t have a married father and mother.

Progressives argue these groups are discriminating against homosexuals. Ironically, the left promotes discrimination — based on religion.

In late 2016, the Obama administration pushed through a new regulation regarding foster agencies receiving federal funding. It stated they must “treat as valid the marriages of same-sex couples.” Similar state and local edicts have already shut down Catholic and Christian adoption agencies in New York, Boston and Illinois.

These actions have negatively affected children waiting for adoption. In Boston, the number of youth aging out of the system increased by more than 50 percent after the rule was put in place. After the Illinois law went into effect, the state lost 1,500 foster homes. The Obama policy threatened to shut down Miracle Hill Ministries, a Christian foster and adoption agency in South Carolina. It places 15 percent of the state’s foster children. The Trump administration gave it a waiver earlier this year.

Fortunately, earlier this month, the Trump administration proposed rolling back Obama’s restrictions on religious groups. That will increase the number of foster homes, which is a good thing.

Despite the left’s over-the-top rhetoric, nothing in this rule will stop homosexuals or singles from becoming foster and adoptive parents. In every state, they can receive a license through government agencies. Numerous private agencies will license them as well.

Those on the left used to preach tolerance. Now, many liberals won’t even tolerate religious organizations helping foster children in a way that’s consistent with their faith. Shame on them. The more organizations helping foster children, the better.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.