Religious exemption leads the largest S.C. foster care provider into scrutiny. Miracle Hill Ministries, the largest foster care provider in South Carolina, received a waiver for a regulation preventing providers that collect federal funding from discriminating against potential parents based on sexual orientation or religious beliefs. Recent reports show that the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee has undergone an investigation that targets the steps taken to grant such a waiver.
According to Greenville News, Miracle Hill refuses to recruit foster parents who are non-Christian or a member of the LGBTQ community. The Greenville-based agency reportedly assumed the responsibility to screen applications able to “spiritually influence children” placed in their homes.
A statement prepared by Miracle Hill claims that when faith-based providers are “pushed out of the system,” that leads to a reduction in the number of children served. The agency further claimed that the time and energy put into their legal defense of rights could have been better used to help children in need – especially since there is currently a shortage throughout the state and country.
However, the agency does still accommodate any foster child assigned to the agency regardless of sexual orientation or religious background.
A letter from two chairmen of the Ways and Means Committee stated that the group was “concerned” with the initial decision to grant religious exemption. According to the letter, the chairmen agreed that the decision may have been reached without any “sufficient consultation” with experts both inside and outside of the industry. According to the agency’s website, Miracle Hill Ministries is committed to offering extensive services and programs to adults in need – such as shelter, clothing, food, personal development, counseling and recovery from substance and/or alcohol addiction. The website further claims that the agency is able to help thousands of homeless and misplaced people each year – stating it has become both the most comprehensive and the largest service provider for homeless people.
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