Biden WH Reversing Trump Religious Waivers for Child Welfare Agencies
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra (Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images)
By Jack Gournell | Thursday, 18 November 2021 07:45 PM
The Biden administration on Thursday said it is rolling back rules from the Trump administration that permitted child welfare agencies receiving federal funds to bypass nondiscrimination rules if they went against the religious beliefs of the agency.
The waiver affected certain agencies in Michigan, South Carolina and Texas, even though some states and agencies did not make requests for the waivers, according to a statement released by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The waiver, issued in 2017, allowed faith-based groups in those three states to pick a child's foster home based on religious beliefs.
The waivers were ''inconsistent with the Department's critical goal of combating discrimination based on religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity,'' the HHS statement said.
''Today's action supports the bedrock American principle and a core mission of our Department — to ensure Americans have access to quality health and human services,'' said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. ''Our action ensures we are best prepared to protect every American's right to be free of discrimination.
''With the large number of discrimination claims before us, we owe it to all who come forward to act, whether to review, investigate or take appropriate measures to protect their rights. At HHS, we treat any violation of civil rights or religious freedoms seriously,'' he said.
Thursday's actions return the department to case-by-case evaluation of requests for ''religious exemptions, waivers and modifications of program requirements across its components, which is demanded by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA),'' the statement said.