Federal Rule Targeting Adoption Puts Religious Freedom of Non-profit Holston Home At Risk

December 15, 2021


Dustin Hobbs

December 15, 2021

Federal Rule Targeting Adoption Puts Religious Freedom of Non-profit Holston Home At Risk

Dustin Hobbs
Other Ministries

“Would you like to accept Jesus now, Granddaddy?”

Cara was a 15-year-old girl in foster care, and this was a special day for her. It was the day her dad could come for a supervised visit. On this occasion he brought ‘Granddaddy’ who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

It had been three years since Cara last met with her grandfather. When she arrived in the family visitation room they embraced and cried together. After a while, something amazing happened. Cara summoned the courage to tell her grandfather about how Christ had died for his sins, and if he would just accept Him as Lord and Savior that God would take care of him now and for eternity. Then she asked the most important question:

“Would you like to accept Jesus now, Granddaddy?” The aging man wept and replied “yes!” “If you believe this Granddaddy, now you are saved. If you get in pain, ask God to help you and He will,” said Cara. The three hugged each other and cried in joy.

Cara’s story (available here) is one of many that have been made possible through the work of Holston United Methodist Home for Children. The non-profit has been in operation since 1895 when Mrs. E.E. Wiley, a widow, took in her first homeless child. Since then, from that humble beginning, Holston Home has helped more than 8,000 children by reuniting them with their families, placing them for foster care or adoption, or helping them transition to adulthood.

Holston Home is proudly affiliated with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, an area that covers all of East Tennessee, the western-most 17 counties in Virginia, and a little bit of territory in North Georgia. In that area, more than 873 United Methodist Churches make up the Holston Conference.

Holston Home provides hope and healing for a brighter future by sharing the love of Jesus with abused and neglected children and families struggling with life's challenges – something everyone should be able to support.

For years, Holston Home has received some of its reimbursement for services through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to help sustain its child-placement activities. However, now the federal government is threatening to cut off that critical funding if Holston Home refuses to surrender their deeply held views on faith, family and marriage.

A 2016 HHS rule issued at the end of the Obama administration required the faith-based agency to violate its religious beliefs by placing children in homes that do not align with their faith, such as with non-Christian or same-sex couples, or cohabitating couples that are unmarried.

During the Trump administration, HHS issued much-needed religious exemptions to this rule so faith-based agencies could operate according to their religious beliefs. Unfortunately, under the Biden administration, HHS recently rescinded all of those religious exemptions.

This despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision which held that a Philadelphia faith-based foster-care agency is protected from the city’s attempt to invoke non-discrimination laws to force the agency to operate in violation of its religious beliefs. The same principle should apply to Holston Home.

That’s why ADF attorneys have filed Holston United Methodist Home for Children v. Becerra in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville.


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