Imagine that new neighbors move in next door. You’re not entirely sure how many kids live there, but you know it’s a lot. And judging by the frazzled demeanor of the adults, it’s clear that they are overwhelmed.
When you introduce yourself, fresh-baked cookies in hand, you discover that all the children living there are being fostered—with more arriving all the time. The neighbors desperately want to find loving homes for each child. Some of the children also need dental work and special therapies to improve their quality of life. But with so many children, those are difficult and costly tasks.
Your eyes light up. You excitedly explain that you know several families who would love the chance to provide a safe and loving home. You also have the resources to pay for dental work, special therapy, and even provide food.
The neighbors breathe a sigh of relief years in the making. You make plans and exchange hugs. But just as you are about to leave, the small silver cross dangling from the chain around your neck becomes visible.
Things change quickly.
The neighbors coldly declare that your beliefs are discriminatory, and they wouldn’t dare accept help from someone so closed-minded.
They slam the door in your face.
Now, you can stop imagining because this is essentially what is happening in Michigan. There, government officials have slammed the door on an opportunity for some of the 13,000 children in its foster care system to find loving homes and receive a quality of life above and beyond what the state can offer.
Catholic Charities West Michigan is one of the largest foster care providers in the region. It has placed thousands of children in loving foster homes over the years, all while holding to the Catholic Church’s belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
As far as the State of Michigan is concerned, that’s enough reason to discount any of the work that Catholic Charities West Michigan has done in the past, or any it plans to do in the future.
Regardless of a 2015 state law that guarantees faith-based organizations the right to operate consistently with their religious beliefs, Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services has adopted a new policy that forces Catholic Charities to make a choice: violate its religious beliefs or shutter its foster and adoption ministry.
This is anti-religious hostility, and it forces children to pay the price.
The math is quite simple. The more qualified foster care and adoption providers that are allowed to seek placement, the better the chances that the 400,000 children in the foster system nationwide will find themselves in safe, loving homes.
Catholic Charites has proven time and again that this is their goal. Now it’s time that the State of Michigan gets on board and puts the needs of vulnerable children above a political agenda.