Sharonell Fulton and other foster parents asked a Philadelphia court late yesterday to end a new City policy that is leaving foster homes sitting empty while the City is in a foster care crisis. In Sharonell Fulton, et al. v. City of Philadelphia, the City must answer for its decision to stop allowing Catholic Social Services to place children in foster homes, solely because the City disagrees with the agency’s religious beliefs – a decision the City is threatening to make permanent on June 30.
In March, the City of Philadelphia issued an urgent call for 300 new foster parents to provide loving homes for some of the over 6,000 kids in Philadelphia foster care. That same month, the City abruptly barred Catholic Social Services, one of the city’s top-rated foster agencies, from placing children with foster families. This decision makes it exponentially harder for hundreds of children in need of foster care to find homes. Foster homes are sitting empty, even as the city begs for more families to help in its foster care crisis.
“What justice is there in taking stable, loving homes away from children? If the City cuts off Catholic Social Services from foster care, foster moms like me won’t have the help and support they need to care for special-needs kids,” said Sharonell Fulton, a foster mother. “I have relied on Catholic Social Services for support for years, and the City is taking away this help and causing harm and heartache to countless families like mine.”
Sharonell has been a foster parent for over 25 years and has opened her home to over 40 children, including two children currently in her care. She strives to provide a loving, stable home and treat each child as if they were her own. To do that, Sharonell relies on Catholic Social Services’ help, including around-the-clock support and access to information and resources.
Catholic Social Services and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have been serving children throughout Philadelphia for over a century. Their Catholic mission drives them to find loving homes for all children in their care, regardless of the child’s race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. Catholic Social Services currently serves over 100 children in foster homes. No family or individual has ever complained that the agency’s Catholic mission prevented them from fostering or adopting a child.
Here’s a link to the court filing. Excerpt:
8. Ms. Fulton could not provide the extensive care that these special needs children require without the support she receives from Catholic Social Services. Catholic Social Services has provided Ms. Fulton with training, resources, support, and professional guidance as to how to best care for special needs children. She has been able to call social workers at any hour and receive an answer from someone she knew and trusted. These social workers have become like family and have shown great love and care to her foster children. By contrast, Ms. Fulton previously 4 received training from a government agency, and has noted the stark difference between that agency’s treatment of her and Catholic Social Services’ care and compassion. She is aware that other foster parents have been unsatisfied with the support they receive from other foster agencies. Ms. Fulton believes that she would not receive the kind of support she needs to serve children with serious medical problems if she were with another agency. If the City terminates its contract with Catholic Social Services, or refuses to renew the contract in June, Ms. Fulton’s two current foster children will be immediately transferred away. Because of their extensive medical needs, she anticipates these children will have a very difficult time being placed, and it is very unlikely they will be placed with a foster parent that has the same capacity and training as Ms. Fulton to address these special needs.
9. Ms. Fulton shares the religious beliefs of Catholic Social Services. As an African American woman, Ms. Fulton has experienced discrimination in her life. It is insulting and hurtful for her to observe the government of the city in which she lives needlessly denigrate and publicly condemn her own religious beliefs in such a discriminatory fashion.
The City of Philadelphia would rather have orphaned children taken away from Christian foster parents who rely on Catholic Social Services, and leave other orphaned children outside of families, than tolerate Catholic beliefs. Note well that neither Catholic Social Services nor the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is trying to stop the placement of children with gay couples; it’s only declining to do so itself based on its longstanding religious convictions.
For liberals and city officials, that is intolerable, apparently. You would think that given how many Philadelphia children without parents are desperately in need of foster care, the city would be doing all it can to get those kids placed in loving homes. The city finds no problem at all with Catholic Social Services … other than the fact that it operates by Catholic principles regarding family structure. If they can’t make Catholic Social Services violate its corporate conscience and kneel before militant progressivism, well then, those children will have to suffer.
The cruel pettiness and anti-Christian hatred shown by the cultural left in cases like this shocks the conscience. One hopes the court will deliver some sanity and compassion to this dispute. Still, my religious conservative readership had better take a lesson: on LGBT issues, the cultural left is driven by anti-Christian spite that they would even see orphaned children — including children with severe medical disabilities that no one wants to care for — and the families who want to love and care for them suffer rather than yield a single inch.
Such is the “tolerance” they told us they wanted. Don’t be fooled. The cultural left will not stop until all Catholics (and other Christians) to the right of gay Jesuits are driven out of the public square. And then they’ll only stop their crusade long enough to catch their breath.
You Christians: fight this now, but prepare for what’s coming.
UPDATE: The first comment, right out the door, is from a liberal. Here it is, and here is my answer:
Doesn’t that cut both ways. Haven’t Christian adoption agencies shut down to prevent LGBT people from adopting?
Seems like both sides are dug in deep and you only call out the other which makes sense no one likes to call out their own side. I find your constant diatribes about anti-Christianity rather empty and often over blown. I can attest that these sort of stories are what pushed me away from the faith. Christianity is strong and strong things change with life.
[NFR: Empty and overblown because you’re not the one suffering from anti-Christian bigotry. There is no way for both sides to “win” on this one. The Catholic Church has deep, consistent teachings about family and sexuality. They are now unfashionable, true, but this is something integral to the Church’s teaching. The Catholic Church also has a long history of social services to the needy. If the Catholic Church’s health care and other social services disappeared tomorrow, you know who wouldn’t feel the pain? Well-off and middle-class people. You know who would? Poor people — and there are few people more poor than severely handicapped orphans. You need to ask yourself why your anti-Christian bigotry is so strong that you would compel Catholics and other Christians who are giving their lives and their treasure to helping the poorest of the poor to violate their consciences. I’m sick to death of this progressive preening. — RD]
UPDATE.2: What we have here is a sort of Progressive Integralism, with the foster children that stand to be removed from (or not placed with) Christian foster families via Catholic Social Services playing the same role that Edgardo Mortara did in the 19th century Papal States.
You remember that story, right? An illiterate housemaid baptized a baby within the Jewish family for which she worked. When news got out, Pope Pius IX, who was the temporal ruler of that territory, declared that the child, Edgardo Mortara, had to be removed from his family because having been baptized, he could not be denied a Catholic upbringing. It caused a huge international scandal at the time.
So now we have a case where the sanctity of homosexuality has been declared by the liberal state, such that foster children must be taken out of Christian homes if there is any chance that their “baptism” into the secular state religion might be compromised, even by appearance. Ordinary human decency and compassion cannot be allowed to interfere with the remorseless exercise of the state religion’s authority.
And there are actually people today who believe that liberalism is neutral. Don’t you believe it for a second.
UPDATE.3: “But what if an adoption agency refused to place kids in interracial homes. You wouldn’t support them working with the city, would you? How is this different?”
For one, race and sexuality are not the same thing. But we have been over that topic exhaustively here.
For another, yeah, I probably would support that agency, as long as there were more children needing homes than there were homes for them. Some progressives advocate the idea that black children should be placed in black homes, Hispanic children in Hispanic homes, et cetera, as a matter of cultural defense. I think this is wrong, but if an otherwise competent child placement and social services office only wanted to work on black-to-black foster placements, or Muslim-to-Muslim, whatever … well, why not? I don’t have to agree with their methodology to be grateful that there are more people involved in trying to find homes for kids who need parents. I may believe that the people running the hypothetical black-to-black agency hold racist anti-white beliefs, but I can live with that as long as I can be confident that they are putting orphans who need families in good homes.
I would be significantly less ticked off about this thing in Philly if there were no shortage of foster homes for these motherless and fatherless children. Where are all the nice, right-thinking liberals in Philly, doing for these poor children what Christians like Sharonell Fulton are doing?
UPDATE.4: I’m thrilled to hear from two frequent liberal commenters. First, Adamant:
Oklahoma just passed a law preventing this very thing.
Fact: There is no existing substitute for religious organizations in adoption, child placement, and foster care in the US.
Without these organizations, the system, shambolic as it is, simply collapses, and the sum total of human misery increases greatly.
Supporters of this nonsense are the same small, blinkered souls that get a perverse glee at the thought of nuns being forced to buy contraception.
To my liberal brothers and sisters; do you have a plan to replace these organizations and the means to execute that plan, ready to go? If not, please sit down and STFU. If your highest and best use isn’t the care and protection of vulnerable children, you don’t have a policy: you have a pose.
Now, from the irreplaceable Franklin Evans:
This one is literally close to home. I’ve lived in Philly nearly my entire adult life, raised three children here, and actively contributed to the long evolution from LGBT scapegoats to becoming integrated and full participants in our community. There are some things here that some might find interesting, even if they don’t agree that they are relevant.
For many years, the school district budget saw a significant drain on resources because by law they were required to deliver educational services to parochial and private school students whose schools were by law exempt from providing, combined with the fact that they were not entitled to the enrolled-student subsidy from the state for the students of those schools. In short, Catholic schools have long enjoyed getting those services for free.
Contrast that to the many religiously sponsored community services who must not proselytize to the children under their care if they either receive city funds or provide services to city-funded institutions. One center, which my children attended through their before- and after-school programs, fired one employee for violating their clear policy to comply with that restriction.
Those form an abstract comparison point which subsequently pales when placed against the foster care services. The principle is the same, and very important, but when it comes to the care and safety of children in need, we simply must not make political footballs of them.
In this case, not only is the city wrong, it is egregiously wrong. If they must level the “playing field” in foster care — Catholic Services is by far the best funded of all the available foster care services — they can do so on the existing breadth of options for same-sex couples, along with making sure that all the foster care services are linked with needy children in an equitable fashion.
UPDATE.5: As for you readers who are trying to draw an equivalence here, and say that both Catholic Social Services and the City of Philadelphia come off looking bad here, by restricting the placement of foster children, you should consider that this is a superficial equivalence. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re correct, and both sides are being selfish. Only one of those sides has the power to stop foster placements entirely: the City. It cannot be the case that willing gay foster parents aren’t receiving placements because of CSS’s stand; there are far more kids needing placement than there are placements. All CSS is doing is declining to make placements that conflict with its deeply-held principles. Fine, call them a bunch of horrible mackerel-snapping bigots, or do your best to change their mind. But do not pretend that there are kids in Philly who are going without foster parents because of the CSS policy. CSS is not the only foster placement game in Philly. If it was, you’d have more of a point. This is only about grinding the face of the Church, and the face of those poor children, and Christian families who want to foster them.