Capitol Conversations Episode

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, and the child welfare system is overwhelmed, especially in the middle of the opioid crisis. Yet many faith-based foster care and adoption providers find themselves defending their very right to exist up against legislation like the Equality Act. These providers and families entered the child welfare system because of their religious convictions to care for the vulnerable. We need as many providers as possible to serve vulnerable children and that means, as Russell Moore argued, letting Catholic adoption agencies be Catholic. Jeff and Chelsea welcome their coalition partner Hillary Byrnes, a religious liberty advocate from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to discuss the future of faith-based child welfare.

Guest Biography

Hillary Byrnes is director of Religious Liberty and Associate General Counsel for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington, D.C.  Hillary staffs the Committee for Religious Liberty, which the U.S. bishops established to address growing concerns over the erosion of freedom of religion in America. Before joining the USCCB, Hillary worked in private practice and served as a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, cum laude, where she was an Article Editor of the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, and earned her bachelor's in Foreign Service, magna cum laude, from Georgetown University. Hillary is a member of the bars of New York and the District of Columbia and has been admitted to practice before several federal trial and appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court.

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Chelsea Patterson Sobolik

Chelsea Patterson Sobolik serves as a Policy Director in the Washington, D.C. office of the ERLC. Previously, she worked in the U.S. House of Representatives on pro-life policies, domestic and international religious freedom, adoption, and foster care issues. Chelsea is the author of Longing for Motherhood - Holding onto Hope … Read More

Jeff Pickering

Jeff Pickering serves as associate policy communications director in the Washington, D.C. office. In this role, he hosts the weekly Capitol Conversations podcast, develops communications strategy, and connects journalists with the organization’s policy work. He also serves as the mentor and director of the DC internship program. Jeff previously served in both … Read More


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