The Catholic Church Doesn’t Want To Let Gays Adopt, So They Laid Off 58 Adoption Workers

The Catholic Diocese of Rockford once provided adoption and foster care services to about 2,300 of the 15,000 children in Illinois’ foster-care system. With civil unions beginning in the state on June 1st, the Diocese asked the legislature to exempt them from having to adopt to gay and unmarried couples. For years, the Diocese referred such couples to other agencies. But the legislature added no such exemption to the civil unions bill and now the Diocese has shut their doors and laid off 58 agency workers. Who wins? Nobody.

If the Dioceses stayed open after June 1st, their policies could have resulted in lawsuits and diminished funding for defying state law. Illinois state legislators could have added an amendment in the Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Unions Act to help protect the Diocese as well as the children, agencies, and family homes they’ve worked with for years. But they didn’t and you’ve got to wonder why.

Here’s the thing: this agency doesn’t sound like Satan’s pedophilia ring (ie. The Vatican). According to the Seattle PI, “Leaders of the Catholic groups have said they aren’t trying to keep gay couples from adopting or taking in foster children — just that it’s a matter of having those couples work with other groups.”

Assuming that’s an honest characterization of their work, some will still say, “Separation of church and state! If they’re accepting state taxpayer funds, they should have to adopt to gay couples and just stop being anti-gay bigots.” But the Diocese will have to eat a shit sandwich on this one, no matter how they proceed.

For one, all adoption agencies accept state funds by virtue of working directly with the state’s child care system. To handle adoptions as an agency in any state means accepting some manner of taxpayer financing. Accepting those funds means they have to adhere to state law; without those funds, they probably wouldn’t have enough to stay in operation.

But if the state forced the Diocese to start adopting to gay couples, the Diocese could get censured and punished by the Catholic hierarchy. Sure, the Diocese could go all Martin Luther/King Henry the 8th on their leaders’ asses and defiantly do whatever they want, but the church might still force the Diocese to close, then denounce its workers by forbidding any Catholic congregation to accept them. Harsh? Yes. Realistic? Yes. Should the Diocese still do it? Ask them.

Forcing a church to violate its own principles harms freedom of religion. It would be somewhat like a state-funded Jewish Orthodox homeless shelter being forced to serve ham because of its superior nutritional value. I know I’ll get lashed in the comments section for that comparison, but still. The state can’t and shouldn’t violate a church’s constitutional right to practice religion within legal bounds.

I realize that the Spanish Inquisition (which no one suspected) was once considered “within legal bounds.” And the Catholic church has historically required governmental intervention to keep its practices from harming society. But that just brings up the real culprit in this entire shitty affair—the church itself

If Papa Ratzi would just stop damning unmarried and gay couples, Catholic agencies like the Diocese could allow continue helping adults care for needy orphans and allow their workers to continue supporting the countless families, children, and state care services in their network. But that’s not gonna happen because, y’know… we’re an abomination and all.

Or if the church really wanted the Diocese to stand their ground, they could sell some of their Vatican treasures (maybe rent out the Sistine Chapel as a timeshare) and make up whatever the agency loses in state funds for defying the law. But the Vatican ain’t gonna do that and the local Catholic churches probably can’t afford to finance the Diocese either.

llinois Department of Children and Family Services spokesman Kendall Marlowe said that many of the Diocese workers and children will be able to find a new place in the state’s 45 other adoption agencies, but that’s not the point. All the relationships the Diocese built over the years have been cut and there’s no way to proceed.

If the Catholic leadership really cared for children or humanity as much as it claims to, it would update church doctrine to embrace LGBT citizens—a lot of us care about kids and humanity too.

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  • Josh Morgan

    Please explain to me how the Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Unions Act violated the Diocese of Rockford’s Constitutional Rights. The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..” The IRFCU does not prohibit the free exercise of practicing the Catholic faith.

    Illinois allows persons who are married, divorced or single to adopt. Catholic Charities already required people to be married, which is a statute violation in itself.

    What is most troubling is the fact the Diocese, Catholic Church and discriminating religious practices do not care about the welfare of the children over the religious policies.

  • Drew H.

    @Josh Morgan:

    I completely agree. God forbid a child should end up with someone who can actually care for them & provide a stable home. It’s been proven over & over again that the Catholic Church could care less about what happens to its followers. Let alone the atrocities that befall these children on its watch. Ridiculous, to say the least.

  • Sparky

    Your argument makes absolutely no sense to me. Religious bigots do not have the right to use the welfare of orphans as a hostage in the fight foe equal rights. People who insist on clinging to prejudiced and discriminatory ideals should not be in the business of looking after children. period. I would argue that the children are better off as orphans than under the influence of the catholic church anyway. The catholic church poisons minds and turns decent people into something much less. The catholic church has a long, long history of doing evil against the world. This is only the latest episode. They fully carry the responsibility for this – not the gay community.

  • Patrick Benitez

    “It would be somewhat like a state-funded Jewish Orthodox homeless shelter being forced to serve ham because of its superior nutritional value.”

    As an analogy, this is really out there. First of all, does ham really have superior nutritional value? (I hope this was a joke.) What legitimate state interest is advanced? Protecting minorities from discrimination, or at least making sure state funds aren’t promoting discrimination, is a legitimate interest. Second, and more to the general point of the post, does freedom of religion include an exemption from anti-discrimination in general? That would be news to people who claim interracial marriage is an abomination because god put the races on separate continents.

  • Jeffree

    Over at NOM’s blog, they’re doing the happy dance over this decision. How messed up is that?

    If Catholic Charities wasn’t a state-funded organization, you could argue they have the right to discriminate against LGB couples (Although you’d still be morally suspect, in my book !)

    Since they DO accept State money, their rationale fails.

    Other dioceses in IL may be using this as a test case, because the Joliet & Springfield & Peoria diocses haven’t yet closed the doors on their adoption agencies.

    The other big agency to watch will be Lutheran Family Services, another key player in adoption/ foster care placements.

  • Fitz

    It’s fine. There are OTHER adoption agencies willing to take your money to do a home study. CC has no monopoly here— it just makes the market bigger for better agencies.

  • john32

    “The state can’t and shouldn’t violate a church’s constitutional right to practice religion within legal bounds.”

    The church is no being denied their right to practice religion, they can do that all they want. But the truth is one they make adoption agencies, which are public institutions, they must follow public policy. If the church wants to build a church and shut out all gay families that is entirely their right. But when they offer a public service and receives public funding, money from straight people and LGBT people alike, then they can not turn us away. It was their choice to enter the public sphere, as such, they must follow their mandates.

  • Jeffree

    Imagine if Catholic Charities were to deny assistance to Protestants, Jews, Muslims or even Wiccans. Doing that on their own dime might pass muster, but as a state-regulated & funded agency, they’d be called out across the board by mainstream media.

  • Shannon1981

    @Jeffree: Are you really surprised that NOM is happy about this? I can’t even go there anymore. They literally turn my stomach. They’d rather the kids stay in the system them give them to the gays! Better to put 58 people out of jobs in this weak economy than let the gays anywhere near the children! It’s crazy, and sick, but this shit is their M.O.

  • Bobby Christina Crawford

    Feed the Pedophile Machine……..Give to the Catholic Church.

  • Roman

    The real harm done has been by Catholic church discriminating against Gay humans and promoting the persecution of these American citizens. Cry me a river! No one is forcing the Catholic church to violate their principals. They seek special status and receive numerous tax free benefits by our Government and can hate at discriminate at will. That’s the trade off. When they knowingly went into the public adoption business, then they have to abide by the laws and rules that a decent society codifies when treating their citizens equally. Ham? What an asinine analogy.

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