Gov. Henry McMaster is resisting attempts to close South Carolina’s faith-based care facilities

Colombia, South Carolina – In a new filing today, Gov. Henry McMaster asked the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina to protect the state’s right to work with private, faith-based foster agencies that help place children in foster care in loving homes. The new request follows a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against state and federal officials. Rogers v. US Department of Health and Human Services et al., for working with religious care organizations like Miracle Hill that help children in need.

“More than 3,800 South Carolina children are currently in foster care and we need all the help we can get to ensure they are placed in loving homes,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “This lawsuit is a short-sighted attack on the constitutionally protected religious liberty of every South Carolina resident. We will continue to fight any attempt to prevent our private partners from helping provide these critical services simply because they choose to do so in accordance with their faith.”

In 2018, Governor McMaster issued an executive order protecting religious organizations and ensuring that South Carolina recognizes the constitutionally protected freedoms of these religious organizations.

In 2019, the ACLU sued South Carolina and the federal government for allowing Miracle Hill, a religious nonprofit that provides foster parents and licensed foster parents support services to foster families, to work only with families who share their religious beliefs.

The governor’s office has joined forces with Beckett Law, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to protecting free speech of all religious traditions, and the law firm of Nelson Mullins to fight the lawsuit.

“Faith-based agencies are effective in placing children in loving homes, and the Supreme Court has unanimously protected their rights.” said Lori Windham, vice president and senior counsel at Becket.This attempt to shut down faith-based agencies means fewer choices for foster parents and fewer homes for children. South Carolina decided it could do better and it shouldn’t be taken to court for doing the right thing.”

The South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) currently works directly with families who wish to empower children and youth in crisis and assists children and families without regard to religion, race, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. The state also works with a number of different private agencies to help recruit and retain more parents for foster children who need a safe place to live.