Sunday, February 17, 2019

Suit Challenges Religious Requirements Permitted In South Carolina Faith-Based Foster-Care Agencies

A lawsuit was filed Friday by Americans United for Separation of Church and State on behalf of a Catholic woman challenging actions by the federal government and the state of South Carolina that permit foster-care placement agencies to use religious criteria for approval of foster care families.  The complaint (full text) in Maddonna v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (D SC, filed 2/15/2019) challenges the waiver from the religious discrimination ban in federally funded foster-care programs that the Department of Health and Human Services granted to the state of South Carolina last month. (See prior posting.) It also challenges a March 13, 2018 executive order by the Governor of South Carolina (Executive Order 2018-12) permitting licensed faith-based foster-care child-placement agencies to limit recruitment and training of foster parents to those who share the same faith as the agency. Plaintiff in the case, Aimee Maddonna, was refused participation in a foster care volunteer program by Miracle Hill Ministries because Miracle Hill required participants to be born-again Christians who belong to a Protestant church. The suit alleges Establishment Clause, equal protection and due process violations. AP reports on the lawsuit.