What does religious refusal mean?
It's becoming more common to hear about cases of people, businesses, and organizations refusing to provide services to a certain population group based on religious objections. This type of discrimination has shown up in various settings. Some recent examples are:
Graduate students training to be social workers refused to provide therapy services to gay people.
Pharmacies refusing to fill women's birth control prescriptions.
Bridal salons, photo studios, and reception halls closing their doors to same-sex couples planning their weddings.
Freedom of religion is important, and it means that we all have a right to our religious beliefs. But that does not give us the right to use our religion to discriminate against and impose those beliefs on others who do not share them.
Fulton v. City of Philadelphia
On November 4th. 2020; the Supreme Court heard a case that involved allowing private agencies that receive taxpayer-funding to provide government services — such as foster care providers, food banks, homeless shelters, and more — to deny services to people who are LGBTQ+, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon or otherwise don’t meet those agencies’ religious criteria.
ActionLink, along with over 1,000 other organizations, joined friend-of-the-court briefs in opposition to this request.
The Court issued a narrow ruling against the City for preventing a Catholic social services agency from participating in a foster care program due to the organization’s discrimination against same-sex couples. This was based on specific language in the City of Philadelphia’s contract that authorized individualized exemptions for a provider, and the court’s decision did not create a broad license to discriminate on the basis of religious freedom.
The ruling leaves intact the broader principle that governments can require contractors, including religious agencies, to comply with nondiscrimination laws - including those that protect same-sex married couples - when providing taxpayer-funded social services. Read CenterLink's statement here.
Read the story of Ami and Val of Zionsville, PA. They're raising three children who came out of the foster system and they strongly oppose discrimination in an adoption/foster care setting.