You may have heard the news that came out of Philadelphia a couple of months back. The City of Philadelphia cut ties with Catholic Social Services because of the agency’s stance that they will not put children into same-sex households. In order for ties to be restored, the CSS would have to sign a document stating that they would do so, thus violating their own doctrinal and ethical stances. This is not the only city government to do so. Back in 2006, the CSS had to pull out of Boston’s foster and adoption programs. Then it had to stop providing the service in the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
At present nine states (California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin) require foster and adoption agencies to place children in same-sex couples’ homes, without exemptions (it would seem) for religious agencies’ convictions. While one does not have to work for a religious agency, and while religious agencies are not the only service provider for foster or adoption, they are a large chunk of those services provided. Many children will be left “in the system” and the system will become much more overwhelmed as religious social service providers are required to make the choice of violating conscience or leaving children to suffer.
Martin Luther, in his Diet of Worms reply, stated that to go against conscience is neither safe nor right. He was restating what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 14: “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin,” (ESV). In this case, Paul was speaking about food, and a person eating what he believed he shouldn’t be eating. It is clear that this relates also to this situation at hand. If one believes that he/she is not to put the child in a home with homosexual couples, but does so anyway, then that person has sinned. They have abandoned what they believed (their conscience) for what was expedient, thus the act did not proceed from faith but against faith.
That being said, at present, there is a bill that has just gone through the next step in a process that will hopefully bring it into law. Back on July 11, it got through the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee (by tucking it away in a spending bill). The “Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act” (CWPIA) allows for organizations like the Catholic Social Services agencies or other religious agencies to keep their consciences clean by protecting them from states and local governments that want them to violate conscience. The law would prohibit states and local governments from discriminating against religious organizations who do will not violate their consciences. If the discrimination occurs, the law requires the Health and Human Services department to withhold 15% of federal funds from the state or local governments.
If this passes, it will be a major victory for religious liberty. If it does not happen, we can expect that more and more states will force agencies to decide between biblical convictions and helping the children they love.