Trump administration grants waiver for foster agency that rejects non-Christians
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Trump administration grants waiver for foster agency that rejects non-Christians

South Carolina’s Miracle Hill Ministries can receive federal funding despite turning away Jewish and LGBTQ families; ADL and Reform movement slam decision

Illustrative: Israeli schoolchildren, August 27, 2013. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90/File)
Illustrative: Israeli schoolchildren, August 27, 2013. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90/File)

JTA — The Trump administration is allowing a South Carolina organization to receive federal foster care funding despite its refusal to work with non-Christians and LGBTQ families.

The decision, which the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday, violates a policy that forbids groups receiving federal funding to discriminate in this way.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster had asked in March for his state to be exempted from the Obama-era regulations.

The Greenville-based Miracle Hill Ministries came into the spotlight after turning away a woman because she is Jewish.

Jonathan Greenblatt. (CC BY-SA PopTech, Flickr)

The Anti-Defamation League and the Reform movement slammed the decision.

ADL Executive Director Jonathan Greenblatt called the waiver “clearly unlawful” and said it “will not hold up in court.”

“It is shocking that the federal government is openly sanctioning discrimination against Jews, LGBTQ and others,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “Allowing a taxpayer-funded agency to discriminate against Jews and other minorities is outrageous and sets a dangerous precedent for our nation.”

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, speaking at Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s biennial Consultation on Conscience, April 30, 2017, in Washington, DC. (courtesy RAC)

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, called Miracle Hill’s restrictions “nonsensical and hurtful” in a statement on behalf of the Reform movement.

“As Jews, we know too well that state-backed religious discrimination quickly becomes a stain on the nation,” he said. “Let us not limit opportunities for vulnerable youth to find safe and supportive homes.”

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