South Carolina’s Miracle Hill Ministries is a social service agency that currently receives federal funding for its work with foster families. The organization is explicitly religious, it is a Christian foster agency. The organization wants to continue to receive federal dollars while “recruiting Christian foster families.”
The organization seeks to accomplish their goal of recruiting Christian foster families by denying potential foster parents who are Jewish. The Trump administration is considering allowing the foster agency to discriminate against non-Christian foster parents while continuing to receive federal funding for their programs.
The state of South Carolina has sided with Miracle Hill, arguing that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows their discriminatory behavior. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is most commonly used by Christians who do not want to serve LGBTQ people. Here, the state and Miracle Hill argued that the government, “should not force a Protestant group to work with Jewish people if it violates a tenet of their faith.” Of course, the organization wishes to assert their discriminatory policy on the federal taxpayers’ dime.
The case arose after a Jewish woman, Beth Lesser was denied by Miracle Hill, even after attending the organization’s three-day foster parenting training. On the training’s final day, two officials told the attendees that they would only be approved if they were Protestants.
Lesser and her husband are experienced foster parents, they have been licensed for years as foster parents. Lesser said that she is a Trump supporter and said that Trump would be displeased if he knew about what was happening in South Carolina at Miracle Hill. Lesser said, “I think that if Trump knew about this in detail, he wouldn’t be for it.” She added, “Because he’s not a religious nut.”
Miracle Hill’s provisional licensure expired on July 25th, the Department of Social Services cannot give the organization permanent licensure if Miracle Hill proves they do not discriminate or there is a federal order that allows their discrimination.
The Department of Health and Human Services currently has exactly that order ready and waiting on a final signature.