Virginia Catholics hail law that protects conscience in adoption
Published: April 13, 2012
RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- Virginia Catholics hailed the signing of a law that protects faith-based organizations from being forced to violate their religious tenets when placing children for adoption or foster care. It also protects agencies from being punished for following those tenets. Virginia became the second state in the nation to enact such a law. North Dakota was the first. Gov. Bob McDonnell, himself a Catholic, signed the bill into law April 9. The bill was introduced as a response to debate last year as Virginia's Board of Social Services weighed regulations that would have forced agencies to disregard such factors as sexual orientation and family status when making child placements. The board ultimately rejected the regulations, and instead adopted rules that affirmed the agencies' freedom of conscience. But the Virginia Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state's dioceses of Richmond and Arlington, sought the law to head off potential future conflicts. In 2011, Virginia's three Catholic Charities agencies placed 137 children up for adoption, and provided 307 foster care placements for children. "Private, religious-based adoption agencies are a major asset to our communities as they work diligently to find loving, caring, stable homes for children in need of care," said McDonnell in an April 11 statement. "This legislation will help ensure that these adoption agencies remain active in finding homes for these children, without being mandated by government to violate the tenets of their deeply held religious beliefs in the process," the governor added. "This is a bill that reaffirms religious liberty and freedom, a hallmark of this great nation."
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