Gov. Henry McMaster has issued an executive order that would allow private foster care agencies to use religious criteria for foster care families.
The governor’s order is specifically targeted towards a single Christian provider in Greenville. Miracle Hill Ministries had asked the governor for help after it was questioned for only allowing foster children to be placed with parents who share the group’s Christian beliefs. That runs counter to newer federal regulations which prevent agencies that receive public funds from factoring in religion.
McMaster’s order allows foster care providers to discriminate based on religion without losing their license. The governor said such groups should not be required to “sacrifice the tenets of their faith.”
“(Government) at any level should not and shall not penalize religious activity by denying any person or organization an equal share of the rights, benefits and privileges enjoyed by other individuals or organizations solely on account of one’s religious identity and sincerely held beliefs,” the order stated.
Additionally, the governor wrote Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Steven Wagner to express concerns over Obama-era regulations restricting the religious freedom of CPAs like Miracle Hill and requested a deviation or exemption from such regulations.