Atheist Students Raise Money for Secular Adoption Agency

There’s good news in Illinois for those of us who support church/state separation.

After our state passed the recent Civil Unions bill, state-funded adoption agencies (including religious ones) had to allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children. Since Catholic Charities was more interested in advancing their form of bigotry instead of put children in safe, loving homes, they were eventually forced to comply with the law or shut down their services.

They chose to shut down. That’s what their “faith” told them to do.

What about the kids who were in their care? Thankfully, a secular agency was there to take care of them:

An independent child welfare agency, Youth Service Bureau of Illinois Valley, stepped up to take on the 330 children and hire most of the caseworkers and support staff.

Now, the Chicago Tribune‘s Manya Brachear reports that Catholic Charities in Peoria “will withdraw from all state contracts and transfer its staff and caseload to a new nonprofit organization with no affiliation to the Roman Catholic Church.”

In other words, they’re finally doing the right thing: putting the children’s interests in front of the Church’s.

The new organization… has agreed to serve couples in civil unions, said Mike Drymiller, of Moline, a Catholic financial adviser and one of the founding board members.

Run by a five-person community board, the Center for Youth and Family Solutions will take on the entire caseload of foster children from Peoria Catholic Charities starting Feb. 1.

It’s amazing how much good you can accomplish when religion isn’t getting in the way.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Charities in other cities are still whining about “religious discrimination,” a case they won’t win. It’s very simple, too: If they want state funding, they must abide by the law and treat gay couples in civil unions the same as they would a heterosexual couple — giving both gay and straight couples the chance to adopt children under their care.

Secular students are also helping out the cause as best they can. When the Youth Service Bureau of Illinois Valley volunteered to take care of the children the Catholic Charities were abandoning, they did so at a cost — they had to hire additional caseworkers and support staff.

So the Illini Secular Student Alliance held a fundraiser for them last week. Over two consecutive nights, they set up a makeshift hot dog stand in a part of Champaign populated with bars…

When all was said and done, they had sold 120 hot dogs and raised over $200 for the Youth Service Bureau of Illinois Valley!

Way to go, ISSA!

If you’d also like to give to the YSBIV, you can do so here.

Update: I received this email from reader April and am posting it here with her permission — it’s about her experience with Catholic Charities and it’s a necessary read:

I was raped at age 13 and became pregnant. My Dr. thought it would be a good idea to have me attend counseling. My parents were not poor, but could not afford the counseling cost, and it was not covered by insurance. The Dr. referred us to the Catholic Charities in Rockford. We were not catholic, my parents never attended church although they were believers. The Catholic Charities provided free counseling. I attended private sessions that were geared towards a small child not an expectant teen mother. The focus of these sessions was never on the rape, or the reality of being a teen mother. They were geared toward manipulating me into giving my baby up for adoption. I had already considered my options. At that point in my life I felt abortion was not something I could live with, yet later in life I would absolutely choose it in that situation after having 2 children already. Then there was adoption, not then, not now, never would I put my own child up for adoption. So, there I was 13 years old and decided to “suffer through” and have my child, raise my child, be a mother to my child. After attending a few sessions, I let my mother know that there was nothing for me to gain and I didn’t want to go. She forced me thinking this was going to be good for me. Then at the last session I attended it became clear that all they wanted was my baby. So I never went back. In my eyes, Catholic Charities only has one goal… Harvesting babies from innocent young mothers. Telling them there is no way you can do this on your own… I had my family backing me. I was not alone. I sincerely commend the ISSA for raising money for the Youth Service Bureau of Illinois Valley!!!


About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://akopsa.wordpress.com/ Andykopsa

    This is an excellent post.  I wrote about this earlier in the year when the wheels were in motion and Catholic Charities were threatening.  Love for this to get more attention.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/Vandeervecken Michael R. Burhans

    Love to see secular students doing good.  The major media sure won’t show this.

  • Anonymous

    “[T]hey were eventually forced to comply with the law or shut down their services.” It really is that simple.  The Catholic run charities chose to shut down.  They weren’t discriminated against.  They weren’t bullied.  They were told to provide the service that the state choose to fund or they wouldn’t get state funding.  

    I’m so pleased that secular organisations are filling the gaps left by those who choose bigotry.  That will keep happening until religious organisations either change their attitude or disappear.  Either would suit me just fine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Derek-Miller/817459075 Derek Miller

    Aw shucks. Thanks for the shout out Hemant! We try to do what we can.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.zamecki Joe Zamecki

    Excellent work!

  • Rike

    There is another benefit to this situation. With catholic adoption services out of the picture, maybe more children will be placed with secular families, as I am sure the catholic services would have always preferred catholic parents.

  • SphericalBunny

    RE April’s story – this is why secular agencies are an absolute must regarding pregnancy. All women should be able to make their own choice; be that parenthood, adoption or termination. Further, all children should be able to access a loving home that wants them, with singles or couples of any sexuality who are able to provide that for them. Religious bigots need not apply.

  • Anonymous

    My husband and I are looking to adopt, and are having trouble finding a non-religious adoption group to go through. Even those that claim to be independent are still judging us based upon our lack of religious beliefs. Does anyone know of an agency/group we can contact that bases placement of children on something other than fairytale belief systems??


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