SC Gov. Allows Foster Homes To Discriminate Based On Religion

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed an executive order that permits religious discrimination.

A regulation implemented under the Obama administration disallowing publicly licensed and funded foster care agencies to discriminate based on religion is receiving fresh attention, courtesy of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.

In an effort to allow faith-based agencies to require participating families be Christian, McMaster signed an executive order Tuesday that will keep such agencies from losing their licenses.

For nearly three decades, Greenville-based Miracle Hill Ministries has only allowed foster children to be placed with parents who share the organization's Christian beliefs. ... The executive order comes three weeks after McMaster sent a letter to Reid Lehman, the executive director of Miracle Hill, assuring him that he supports religious freedom for foster care providers.

Prior to the Obama administration rule, race and national origin were the only two factors foster care agencies were barred from considering when accepting families.

"It is important that religious organizations not be required to sacrifice the tenets of their faith in order to serve the children of South Carolina," McMaster wrote in the letter.

McMaster has also written to top officials in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking them to exempt South Carolina from the requirement.