News Release: Pass Conscience Rights for Adoption Agencies, Catholic Conference Urges House of Representatives

December 4, 2012

(Lansing)—This morning the House Families, Children and Seniors committee passed House Bills 5763 and 5764, and Michigan Catholic Conference is now urging the full House of Representatives to pass the bills. The legislation would provide conscience protections to faith based adoption and foster care child placement agencies that have come under attack nationwide due to their religious teachings.

“Michigan Catholic Conference is grateful to committee chairman Representative Ken Kurtz (R-Coldwater) for his support of this legislation and for speaking boldly in defense of religious conscience and the constitutional right to religious liberty,” said Tom Hickson, Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy. “We now encourage the full House of Representatives to pass House Bills 5763 and 5764 to ensure that faith based organizations may continue their work on behalf of poor and neglected children for decades to come.”

Since 2006, Catholic Charities organizations nationwide that provide child placement services, such as adoption and foster care, have been forced by judicial or administrative ruling to choose between closing their doors or operating their agency in a manner that violates Catholic teaching. In order to remain faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, Charities agencies in San Francisco, Boston, Washington D.C. and the State of Illinois, agencies that have placed neglected and poor children in loving and compassionate homes for decades, have been forced to close their doors.

“HBs 5763 and 5764 would prevent such an attack on vulnerable and neglected children in Michigan by allowing faith based organizations to operate how they always have, within their religious tradition,” said Hickson. “The legislation does not change or restrict how any adoptions are administered today; the bills simply recognize religious liberty rights and protect those rights from coercive efforts.”

In October, Michigan Catholic Conference released polling data that indicated some 80 percent of voters support the policy of faith based organizations serving the general public in that organization’s religious tradition, without government interference. The poll indicated widespread support for the provision of public services from faith based organizations regardless of the respondent’s self-identified political persuasion or ideology.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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