Please, won’t someone think of the gays?

Posted on July 18, 2011 by

Illinois makes a strike against religious freedom and foster kids pay the price.

Rather than allow unmarried people or same-sex couples to adopt or foster children, Catholic Charities of Rockford, Illinois announced Thursday that they would stop providing foster care services.

The move comes after months of drama in Springfield over an amendment to the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act, which goes into effect June 1. The law says that if an agency receives state money, it cannot discriminate against same-sex couples, and must treat people in civil unions as it would treat married couples.

When the law was passed, Catholic Charities and other religious and conservative groups pushed for an amendment that would allow faith-based organizations to “decline an adoption or foster family home application” to a couple in a civil union if “if acceptance of that application would constitute a violation of the organization’s sincerely held religious beliefs.” A Senate committee voted down the amendment in April, and a House committee did the same this week.

“The law of our land has always guaranteed its people freedom of religion,” Penny Wiegert, the Rockford Diocese’s director of communication said in a statement. “Denying this exemption to faith-based agencies leads one to believe that our lawmakers prefer laws that guarantee freedom from religion. We simply can not compromise the spirit that motivates us to deliver quality, professional services to families by letting our state define our religious teachings.”

Catholic Charities of Rockford handles about 350 foster family and adoption cases, according to the Rockford Archdiocese. They work with 11 counties in northern Illinois and have a state budget of $7.5 million. Today, the Diocese announced that they would transition out of their current contracts and terminate 58 employees when they drop the program.

Anthony Martinez, executive director of the Civil Rights Agenda, said this is a “sad day” for the foster families and parents involved with Catholic Charities.

“This is a sad display of bigotry by Catholic Charities, and their bigotry will now be harming children in their care,” Martinez said in a statement. “It is equally sad that they would invoke ‘Freedom of Religion’ as they make this announcement. That freedom is granted only when the religious agency is not funded by taxpayer dollars, and they are well aware of that.”

But it is the Church’s fault for not changing according to the whims of the state.  Those 2000 year old institutions can just be so stubborn.

Simcha Fischer sums it up:

I’m imagining the legislator adjusting his tie in the mirror with an idealistic gleam in his eye, and practicing the following argument to himself:  Because of our high principles, we are going to make sure the kids Catholic Charities serves stay in foster care.  Because of our ideals, we are going to prevent the most consistent and effective benefactor of children from finding homes for them.  Never mind the nitty gritty!  Never mind those messy children with their ugly little physical needs.  We’re talking about principles here—we’re talking about high ideals!

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