The state of Oregon refused to let a Christian mother of five adopt a child because of her religious beliefs, according to a federal lawsuit filed by Alliance Defending Freedom.
Jessica Bates began the process of applying to become certified to adopt a child from Oregon’s foster care system one year ago.
The Oregon Department of Human Services, the agency responsible for the delivery and administration of the state’s child welfare programs, denied her application because individuals seeking to adopt must agree to “respect, accept, and support … the sexual orientation, gender identity, [and] gender expression” of any child the department could place in an applicant’s home, and Bates could not agree to this because of her faith.
“Oregon’s policy amounts to an ideological litmus test: people who hold secular or ‘progressive’ views on sexual orientation and gender identity are eligible to participate in child welfare programs, while people of faith with religiously informed views are disqualified because they don’t agree with the state’s orthodoxy,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs. “The government can’t exclude certain communities of faith from foster care and adoption services because the state doesn’t like their particular religious beliefs.”
Bates alerted ODHS that she will happily love and accept any child, but she could not say or do something that goes against her Christian faith.
ODHS’s policy, however, excludes her and others who hold traditional religious beliefs about human nature and sexuality by requiring parents to use a child’s preferred pronouns, take a child to affirming events like Pride parades, or facilitate a child’s access to dangerous pharmaceutical interventions like puberty blockers and hormone shots if the child so requests.
“Oregon’s policy makes a sweeping claim that all persons who hold certain religious beliefs—beliefs held by millions of Americans from diverse religious faiths—are categorically unfit to care for children,” said ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse. “That’s simply not true. Oregon is putting its political agenda above the needs of countless children who would be happy to grow up in a loving, Christian home like Jessica’s. We urge the court to remind the state of its constitutional and moral obligations and reaffirm Jessica’s First Amendment right to live out her faith without being penalized by the government.”
Franklin Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, condemned Oregon’s discriminatory practices.
“Can you imagine a state disqualifying Christians from adopting children because of their belief in the Word of God? To me, that would be wiping out the best pool of potential parents—just ludicrous,” Graham wrote on Facebook. “Oregon has some 8,000 children in foster care and around 200 waiting to be adopted and this is what the state is concerned about? For the state to put their political agenda and woke ideology above the needs of these children is appalling.”