WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 23, 2019—The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services granted a religious liberty waiver to South Carolina today to protect the ability of faith-based foster care and adoption providers, such as Miracle Hill, to continue serving vulnerable children.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, responded to this decision saying:
“Culture wars shouldn’t stand in the way of those seeking to care for children in need. That’s why I’m pleased to see Governor McMaster advocating for agencies like Miracle Hill and also for HHS protecting the rights of those who are dedicated to caring for the most vulnerable. Far too many children are waiting, right now, either for adoption or foster families. I’m glad to see in this case that burdensome regulations won’t come at the expense of vulnerable children who need loving homes.”
The governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, sought a waiver from this regulation in order for his state to continue licensing faith-based agencies. In response to the HHS decision to grant his request, Gov. McMaster thanked President Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar and noted South Carolina’s commitment to caring for children:
“With young people in need of stable foster homes throughout our state, I am determined to protect each and every one of the Child Placing Agencies that have been called to help us fill those needs.”
This regulation was established by HHS officials in January 2017 during President Obama’s final days in office. Current HHS officials in the Administration for Children and Families granted today’s waiver based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The waiver ensures South Carolina’s Department of Social Services may continue to license faith-based child welfare providers without asking those providers to abandon their sincerely held religious convictions.