Waiver to allow South Carolina foster agencies to reject non-Christians is unconstitutional, ADL says
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Waiver to allow South Carolina foster agencies to reject non-Christians is unconstitutional, ADL says

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster during a gubernatorial primary runoff election watch party in Columbia, S.C., June 26, 2018. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

(JTA) — A waiver to allow South Carolina foster agencies to reject foster parents on the basis of religion is unconstitutional, the Anti-Defamation League said.

The Jewish organization urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to deny the waiver request in a letter Tuesday to Roger Severino, the director of the department’s Office for Civil Rights.

In March, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster asked for his state to be exempted from regulations that prevent federally funded foster agencies to discriminate based on religion. The waiver concerns Miracle Hill Ministries, an agency in the state that rejects foster parents who are not Christian, as well as same-sex couples.

The Republican governor also issued an executive order in support of Miracle Hill.

According to a report Friday in The Intercept, the Greenville-based foster agency turned away a woman because she is Jewish.

In the letter, ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt called the waiver request “immoral and unconstitutional.”

“No child should be denied a loving foster or adoptive home simply because a prospective parent is Jewish, another faith, a different race or LGBTQ,” Greenblatt wrote.

McMaster’s spokesman, Brian Symmes, rejected the concerns by the ADL in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday, calling them “unfounded and off-base.”

“The governor would fight just as hard on behalf of Miracle Hill if they were a Jewish organization, a Muslim organization or an organization of any other faith,” Symmes said. “We need more organizations engaged in finding foster care home for children, not less.”