It’s important for children to experience the love of a family as God designed it.
A married husband and wife can provide much-needed stability for children from unstable homes.
That’s what many faith-based adoption and foster agencies believe – and that viewpoint was recently upheld by the state of Michigan.
Christian Life Daily first reported on this story earlier this year in an article entitled Attack on Christian Foster Care Reaches a New Level in Michigan.
St. Vincent Catholic Charities has a long and generous history of connecting children from difficult backgrounds with families who want to support and care for them.
This adoption agency has been under contract with the state of Michigan for more than 70 years, working with the government to place foster children with adoptive parents. The organization is one of the most successful in the state.
They’ve supported hundreds of families through the journey of adoption, including the Buck family.
Chad and Melissa Buck have adopted five special-needs children through St. Vincent and they thank God for the work of the agency.
“St. Vincent has been with us every step of our journey, answering every phone call, coming with us to doctor’s appointments, even bringing us food, as we strive to give our five beautiful children the best future they can have,” said Melissa.
The adoption agency, which was founded on Christian values, has clearly gone above and beyond in its work with the state of Michigan. But some people are still dissatisfied and want to see St. Vincent shut down.
Why? Because St. Vincent seeks to place children in traditional families.
Striving to uphold the integrity of its Christian values, St. Vincent will refer same-sex and unmarried couples to other adoption agencies in Michigan.
The state’s Attorney General, Dana Nessel, claimed this was discriminatory action.
Even though a 2015 law allowed the Catholic adoption agency to conduct referrals and placements based on its religious values, Nessel claimed this law did not apply since St. Vincent was under contract with the state.
Nessel, who is Michigan’s first openly gay officeholder, wanted to force the adoption agency to place children with same-sex couples instead of traditional families, despite the agency’s firm religious beliefs and determination to act in the best interests of the children.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty stepped in on behalf of St. Vincent and the Buck family to protect the religious rights of all involved.
If the state of Michigan took action the way Nessel wanted, the Becket Fund argued, it would violate St. Vincent’s First Amendment rights and its rights under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
It was critical to fight Nessel’s open “attempt to shut down faith-based foster and adoption agencies,” said the Becket Fund.
The district judge involved in the case, Robert Jonker, agreed wholeheartedly.
Judge Jonker said that Nessel’s desire to discontinue St. Vincent’s work with the state “strongly suggests the state’s real goal is not to promote non-discriminatory child placements, but to stamp out St. Vincent’s religious belief and replace it with the state’s own.”
To force the agency to comply with Nessel’s position would “disrupt a carefully balanced and established practice that ensures non-discrimination in child placements while still accommodating traditional Catholic religious beliefs on marriage,” the judge continued.
Judge Jonker concluded by asserting that the work of St. Vincent is not discriminatory and should not be stopped.
This is a landmark victory for faith-based adoption and foster care agencies!
In addition to making sure more children have stable homes, the judge’s ruling ensures that God’s definition of the family unit will be supported and honored in the state of Michigan.
The judge also noted that Attorney General Nessel’s actions and claims of discrimination “targeted” St. Vincent and other faith-based agencies. Judge Jonker and others in Michigan will be keeping an eye on Nessel’s future actions.
Of course, LGBT advocacy groups in the state are not happy with Judge Jonker’s ruling, claiming it will decrease the number of homes available for foster children in need across Michigan.
But it’s obvious that in allowing St. Vincent to keep doing its valuable work, the judge has the best interests of the children at heart.
“St. Vincent brought our family together,” said Melissa Buck, who was overjoyed at the ruling. “I’m happy to know they can keep doing their great work helping children find homes.”
Praise God for this victory for religious freedom in Michigan!