Catholic foster care agency’s ban upheld by Philadelphia court

Catholic foster care agency’s ban upheld by Philadelphia court April 24, 2019

IT was reported last year that the city of Philadelphia would no longer place foster children with parents through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Catholic Social Services (CSS) because of the archdiocese’s refusal to place children with same-sex couples.

Image courtesy of the ACLU

CSS appealed the decision – and lost, much to the delight of Leslie Cooper, above, of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Cooper, deputy Director of the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, praised the City of Philadelphia’s success in court :

This is a victory for the thousands of children in Philadelphia’s child welfare system. Many of those children live in group homes, are separated from siblings, or age out of foster care without ever becoming part of a family because of the shortage of foster and adoptive families to care for them.

Prospective foster and adoptive parents should be judged by their capacity to provide love and support to a child, not the religious views of a tax-funded agency.

The Third US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that the city did not target the archdiocese’s foster care agency because of its religious beliefs, but  acted only to enforce its non-discrimination policy.

Circuit Court Judge Thomas Ambro wrote for the three-judge panel:

The city stands on firm ground in requiring its contractors to abide by its non-discrimination policies when administering public services.

While the decision delighted the ACLU, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty reacted with anger to the ruling.

Image via YouTube

Becket senior counsel Lori Windham, above, described it as “devastating” and said the fight was not over.

This ruling is devastating to the hundreds of foster children who have been waiting for a family and to the dozens of parents working with Catholic Social Services who have been waiting to foster a child. We’re disappointed that the court decided to let the city place politics above the needs of kids and the rights of parents, but we will continue this fight.

One woman who has fostered more than 40 children through Catholic Social Services insisted that the decision was an attack on her faith.

At the time of the ban, Sharonell Fulton, in an op-ed for The Philadelphia Inquirer said:

As a single mom and woman of color, I’ve known a thing or two about discrimination over the years. But I have never known vindictive religious discrimination like this, and I feel the fresh sting of bias watching my faith publicly derided by Philadelphia’s politicians.

It was my faith that led me to become a foster mother to children, particularly children that society had abused and discarded. To see the city condemn the foster agency that has made possible my life’s work fills me with pain.

The 6,000 and counting at-risk children waiting in Philadelphia’s foster care system deserve much better than having their futures jeopardized by our city’s leaders playing politics.

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  • John Hinkle

    This ruling is devastating to the hundreds of foster children who have been waiting for a family…

    So if I have this sorted out, CSS is willing to let foster children suffer rather than occasionally place them with LGBT parents who, studies have shown, can raise normal, healthy children at the same rate as opposite sex parents. Makes sense.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa


    It’s the same perspective that insists that a child with a single parent is better off than a child with two parents who are the same sex.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    This ruling is devastating to the hundreds of foster children who have been waiting for a family…

    So if there are so many children waiting for a family, why is the church organization refusing to consider same-sex households? You’d think they’d be looking for more options at this point….

    if they really were concerned about getting foster children into homes.

  • “You can’t discriminate against me for discriminating against people I don’t agree with because Jesus!” That’s what religious bigots sound like to me….

  • Michael Neville

    Religious freedom is the right to harass, bully and discriminate against certain groups of people because God is displeased with them.

    Religious persecution is being criticized for indulging in religious freedom.

  • Broga

    ” having their futures jeopardized by our city’s leaders playing politics.” But it is acceptable to Sharonell Fulton to have the RC Church playing religious indoctrination. Her determination is to have children fostered in homes where the priest is warmly welcomed, given a free hand one might say, with the children. The current revelations of priestly activities do not arouse confidence in any objective, fair minded observer.

    Over the years the child will be vulnerable to the terrors so readily available to the priests to control the child. What repressions, perversions, distorted values, weird morality, selected sections of the bible and severe censorship will be inflicted on the child? What chance has the child of becoming a mature adult, accepting of their own needs and feelings as normal and natural.

    In UK law the “welfare of the child is paramount” . The most likely chance of meeting that goal would be in a home with loving foster parents whose prime consideration is the child without the meddling of a celibate priest. The priest has a very different objective and that is based on values which were established in the distant past and rewritten many times before becoming the supposed word of God. A God who delivers his contradictions and absurdities in King James English.

  • karmacat

    One woman has fostered 40 children? That seems like a lot. And why can’t she go through another agency to foster children?

  • Har Davids

    None of these religious types seem to give a thought to straight, religious folk who manage to have children who end up being gay. Surely, these parents have failed somewhere: a lack of faith, or their God’s idea of a joke?

    Anyone can be a good parent, concentrate on that, it’s that simple.

  • downtown21

    I detest bigotry, but I detest lies and hypocrisy even more.

    It’s disgusting that this Catholic charity is bigoted against gays, but it’s even more disgusting that they’re claiming to be the victims of discrimination here. And that they care more about enforcing their bigoted views about marriage than they do about helping kids, and then blame the city for the suffering of the kids.

    And I’m not even an atheist.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    Except the fact that these bans are pointless, when there are tons of secular agencies to go to. It’s less justified because you feel entitled that everyone agrees with their views about foster care.

  • Bubblecar

    It is of course the Catholic Church who are placing their obnoxious superstitions above the needs and rights of children. Which is hardly surprising, as countless court cases have shown us they’re quite happy to place their perverted sexual cravings above the needs and rights of children, who are basically their prey, whether for the purposes of sexual abuse or indoctrination with religious madness.

    That this thoroughly discredited cult is still allowed to have anything to do with vulnerable children is the real scandal here.

  • Nemo

    It’s all fun and games until this eventually makes its way to the Supreme Court and Kavanaugh delivers the opinion that not only is this ruling valid, but gays cannot adopt or raise children at all.

    It’ll happen. Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

  • Nemo

    Given that same sex couples are less likely to have children of their own (for obvious reasons), I’d imagine they’d be more likely to adopt than opposite sex couples.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    There ARE tons of agencies that will do the job that Philadelphia wants, and there’s nothing wrong with them deciding to only use agencies that will do that job. If the Catholic foster care agencies can’t meet the requirements of the job, I guess they’re out of business.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    Because she might have to get in line behind a gay family?

  • 92JazzQueen .

    And it’s full of bull saying that gay rights would influence the state to go against private beliefs of the citizens.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    Do you know how a Representative government works? The citizens elect representatives who make decisions on their behalf. They’ve made the decision not to discriminate against homosexuals. This isn’t a new development, at this point if the citizens disagreed they would have had a chance to vote out their representatives.

    So I don’t see how you think the “private beliefs of the citizens” requires Philadelphia to accept these agencies that won’t do the job as specified.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    You guys preach about inclusiveness, but it’s always defining how you see it as. You guys really can nag about how evil the church is for forcing their views on others, but will justify doing the same thing in the name of being self-righteous moralists.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    The fact that you call it a discredited cult gives you no leg to stand on. And it makes you look hypocritical.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    Nobody is forcing the church to do anything they don’t want to. But if they don’t want to do the job (placing foster children without discrimination), you can’t complain that they’re being left out of the system.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    You are giving false freedom of choice. It’s really a rock and a hard place for people.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    How is it a rock and a hard place? What choice am I forcing on you?

  • 92JazzQueen .

    Forcing between beliefs and wanting to help children. You guys don’t understand anything about beliefs until your own beliefs are shredded.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    Do your beliefs forbid you from fostering children through an agency other than the church, just because those other agencies my place children with gay couples?
    If your beliefs make you so hateful that you can’t even get THAT close to gay people, I don’t have any sympathy for you. Far better that you don’t get access to these children, they don’t need your hateful version of Jesus.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    You don’t have the monopoly on calling anyone’s actions hateful, and yet society has let you have the final voice on it. Also you really have no foot to call people hateful, when I’ve seen worse stuff from your ilk.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    Sorry, saying “You’re hateful, too” doesn’t give the church the right to discriminate when placing foster children.

    I don’t recall ever defending someone’s rights to be hateful on the public dime (or when handling children under the protection of the state)

  • 92JazzQueen .

    Huh, people chew out the church for it’s standards, but being “hateful” is just a term to make people say they have a small minded view other beliefs.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    It’s offensive that you presume the people of Philadelphia are as bigoted as you are. Realize that many people have learned to be moral in spite of their Christianity.

    I hope some day you can do likewise. I know it’s tough when your religion lies to you and tells you that you CAN’T be moral. But at least start to try.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    Mostly because you really have no nuance when it comes to stances on homosexuality. It’s your way or the high way.

  • firebubbles310

    Why? There are many Christians who call it a cult and fake Christianity Jazzy. So why this any different?

  • firebubbles310

    Except the Church here is taking government money. This has strings attached Jazzy. If they weren’t taking government funding, it wouldn’t matter. Their views wouldn’t matter. They are acting as an agent of the government by taking that money and fostering kids out. They don’t get to play their discrimination game. If they stopped taking government money then nothing would be said.

    Though given their treatment of pregnanct women and children born out of wedlock, maybe they shouldn’t be involved with children at all.

  • firebubbles310

    Because gay people deserve the same rights as straight people we are wrong? Oh jazzy, jazzy, jazzy. Don’t come into the public sphere with your religion and act like people shouldn’t get to have an opinion. You Christians love judging other faiths (Jews were Christ killers, blood libel, etc). Your ilk passed laws to discriminate against other groups in the past. Now that the government is secular you wanna cry foul? Christianity has a terrible rep about treating minorities fairly, so stop with the false persecution complex.

    Either the church doesn’t accept money and they get to discriminate all they want, but they do it on their dime. Or they take the money and follow the rules like anyone else. No one went into their church and made them do this. No one made them take government money. They are being treated like any other contractor that doesn’t follow the rules for the money given. So hush. Just because Christianity isn’t getting special treatment doesn’t mean it is persecution or discrimination.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    Or as some have seen when the church gets out of of the business you guys don’t really put your money where your mouth is. You can’t expect to feel entitled to to go to religious organizations and expect all of them to cater to your whims.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    There is a reason why it does. In order to keep things running.

  • firebubbles310

    This, no discrimination allowed. We don’t let foster homes out and out deny blacks based on religious belief, that would be absurd.

    If they want government money and contract, strings are attached, as they should be. This isnt religious discrimination and it isnt forcing anything. Like all other contractors they can decide to sign on the dotted line or no.

    It doesn’t matter why the church is taking the money, they are working as agents for the government in finding homes. Gay couples, unmarried couples, non-Christians and even single people can be just as qualified but not to the CC. The church cant discriminate. You all would have pitchforks if a mosque was doing this.

    The Church isn’t the victim here. They and you seriously need to understand that. They are being held to the law, and it isnt infringing on religion. There is no religious right to run a foster group. They are a government contractor being told the requirements of their contract. They can take it or leave it. Either way, not a victim.

  • firebubbles310

    I can if they are acting as a government agent and taking governent money honey. I am a taxpayer (unlike the RCC) and it is partly my money they would be using to discriminate. They don’t get to do that. So they either don’t take the government money and use their own, which means they can do what they want. But until that happens, yes we can expect them to cater to our whims.

    What if I had an organization like this placing kids, but I refused to place kids in Catholic or evangelical homes because of their beliefs. You would be having kittens over the discrimination, even if I said it was a part of my religion and you should. That is the same thing here honey.

    Again. Don’t take a government contract and money and then claim religious rights. Can’t discriminate.

  • earl davis

    “Out of business”?
    Good riddance to bad rubbish PLUS their predatory prelates have now lost a pool of helpless victims to rape/abuse (a win!)

  • earl davis

    Tell us how them choosing not to give their business to a bunch of haters like you in any way stops or infringes on their “private beliefs”?