ADL blasts South Carolina foster agencies for rejecting on religious grounds
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ADL blasts South Carolina foster agencies for rejecting on religious grounds

State governor asks for exemption from regulations after foster agency reportedly turns away a Jewish woman

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO And National Director of the Anti-Defamation League testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on responses to the increase in religious hate crimes. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO And National Director of the Anti-Defamation League testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on responses to the increase in religious hate crimes. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

A waiver to allow South Carolina foster agencies to reject foster parents on the basis of religion is unconstitutional, the Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday.

The Jewish organization urged the US Department of Health and Human Services to deny the waiver request in a letter to Roger Severino, the director of the department’s Office for Civil Rights.

In March, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster asked for his state to be exempted from regulations that prevent federally funded foster agencies to discriminate based on religion. The waiver concerns Miracle Hill Ministries, an agency in the state that rejects foster parents who are not Christian, as well as same-sex couples.

The Republican governor also issued an executive order in support of Miracle Hill.

According to a report Friday in The Intercept, the Greenville-based foster agency turned away a woman because she is Jewish.

In the letter, ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt called the waiver request “immoral and unconstitutional.”

“No child should be denied a loving foster or adoptive home simply because a prospective parent is Jewish, another faith, a different race or LGBTQ,” Greenblatt wrote.

McMaster’s spokesman, Brian Symmes, rejected the concerns by the ADL in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday, calling them “unfounded and off-base.”

“The governor would fight just as hard on behalf of Miracle Hill if they were a Jewish organization, a Muslim organization or an organization of any other faith,” Symmes said. “We need more organizations engaged in finding foster care home for children, not less.”

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