TEXAS BILL ALLOWS FOSTER CARE PROVIDERS TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST NON-CHRISTIANS AND SAME-SEX COUPLES

On the last day to file bills this legislative session, a conservative lawmaker combined two hot-button issues into one proposal: child welfare reform and religious freedom.

House Bill 3859, filed by Representative James Frank, R-Wichita Falls, prevents the state from taking any “adverse action” against faith-based religious organizations that refuse to provide services on the basis of “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The bill’s language is broad and amounts to a thinly veiled attempt to allow foster care providers to refuse to place children with same-sex couples and non-Christians.

“It’s particularly insidious given the very real problems in the child welfare system,” said Ryan Valentine, deputy director of the Texas Freedom Network, a left-leaning advocacy group. “Child welfare decisions should always be made with the child’s interest at the center of that decision. This turns that upside down and says what matters more than that is the religious convictions of state contractors.”

Those “very real problems” include a serious capacity crisis, with foster children sleeping in hotels and Child Protective Services (CPS) offices because there aren’t enough homes for them.

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