The Trump administration is allowing a South Carolina organization to receive federal foster care funding despite refusing to work with non-Christians or LGBTQ families.
The decision, which the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday, violates a policy that forbids such discrimination for groups receiving federal funding. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster had asked in March for his state to be exempted from the Obama-era regulations.
The Greenville-based Miracle Hill Ministries came into the spotlight after turning away a woman because she is Jewish.
The Anti-Defamation League and the Reform movement slammed the decision.
ADL Executive Director Jonathan Greenblatt called the waiver “clearly unlawful” and said it “will not hold up in court.”
“It is shocking that the federal government is openly sanctioning discrimination against Jews, LGBTQ and others,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “Allowing a taxpayer-funded agency to discriminate against Jews and other minorities is outrageous and sets a dangerous precedent for our nation.”
Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, called Miracle Hill’s restrictions “nonsensical and hurtful” in a statement on behalf of the Reform movement.
“As Jews, we know too well that state-backed religious discrimination quickly becomes a stain on the nation,” he said. “Let us not limit opportunities for vulnerable youth to find safe and supportive homes.”
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Josefin Dolsten is a former news fellow at the Forward, writing about politics and culture, and editing the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten .