Action Alert: Support Conscious Protections for Faith Based Adoption Agencies

The Virginia General Assembly is currently considering two bills (HB 189 and SB 349), which would ensure that faith-based adoption and foster care agencies are allowed to continue operating according to their religious convictions.

 

Last year, we successfully blocked discriminatory regulations that would have forced faith-based agencies to perform adoptive placements that conflict with their beliefs about the family and what is in the best interests of children. In 2011, the Virginia Board of Social Services twice voted to protect the rights of faith-based agencies by overwhelming margins (7-2 in April 2011 and 6-1 in December).

 

The bills before the Virginia General Assembly will make it clear that, under state law, faith-based adoption and foster care agencies have the right to provide services according to their moral and religious convictions.

 

It is important to note that HB 189 and SB 349 do not change existing state law. Rather, they recognize the great work of faith-based child welfare agencies and allow them to continue their life-saving work.

 

Both the House and Senate bills are scheduled to be heard this week, and legislators need to hear from all of us over the next several days. Please contact your Delegate and Senator to urge them to SUPPORT HB 189 and SB 349. Find your legislator HERE.

 

Also, please make a point to contact the following Senators, who are on the committee hearing testimony on SB 349 this week:

 

Sen. Frank W. Wagner

          Email: district07@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7507

Sen. Thomas K. Norment, Jr.

          Email: district03@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7503

Sen. Yvonne B. Miller

          Email: district05@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7505

Sen. Linda T. Puller

          Email: district36@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7536

Sen. Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.

          Email: district24@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7524

Sen. Mamie E. Locke

          Email: district02@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7502

Sen. Ryan T. McDougle

          Email: district04@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7504

Sen. Mark R. Herring

          Email: district33@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7533

Sen. George L. Barker

          Email: district39@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7539

Sen. Ralph S. Northam

          Email: district06@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7506

Sen. Richard H. Black

          Email: district13@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7513

Sen. Charles W. Carrico, Sr.

          Email: district40@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7540

Sen. Bryce E. Reeves

          Email: district17@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7517

Sen. Barbara A. Favola

          Email: district31@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7531

Sen. Walter A. Stosch

          Email: district12@senate.virginia.gov

          Phone: (804)698-7512

 

 

 

Please remember to be respectful and Christ-like in all your interactions. A sample message for your use is below:

 

                Dear ________,

 

As a Virginian of faith and a supporter of the right of every child to a family, I urge you to Support HB 189/SB 349.

 

Last year, a conflict over faith-based child welfare agencies’ rights of conscience arose within the regulatory process. The Board of Social Services overwhelmingly affirmed the right of faith-based agencies to provide adoption and foster care services in keeping with their moral and religious convictions.

 

It is now time for the Virginia General Assembly to recognize the life-saving work performed by these agencies and to protect their right to practice what they profess.

 

In Virginia, more than half of licensed child-placing agencies have some sort of religious affiliation. Without the protections afforded by HB 189 and SB 349, these agencies are in danger of being forced to close simply because they profess religious beliefs about the role of the family unit in a child’s life. Without these agencies, thousands of orphaned and vulnerable children in Virginia and throughout the world will be denied the basic human right to a family.

 

Please do what is truly in the best interests of children – Support HB 189/SB 349.

 

Respectfully,

 

[Your name]  

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