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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
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9/22/11  3:22 pm
Commenter: Kate Higbee

Preserve religious freedom

Dear Board Members,

On April 20, the State Board of Social Services correctly upheld the fundamental right of faith-based agencies to continue their great work without governmental intrusion into the practice of their faith.  I thank and applaud you for this.  I see now that the comment period has been reopened.  I want to reiterate the importance of preserving the freedom of faith-based organizations (such as Catholic Charities' Center for Adoption and Pregnancy Services) to make decisions that accord with the tenets of their faith.

Faith-based adoption agencies facilitate over 80 percent of adoptions in the Commonwealth.  Reinstating the changes originally proposed would force many of these agencies and individuals to choose between either following their religious convictions or following the law.  This would be terrible violation of their religious freedoms.  Faith-based agencies have a right, under federal and state law, to make decisions that are consistent with their religious beliefs, including their beliefs about marriage and family life. This right must be respected and preserved.  Many birthparents and prospective adoptive parents hold these beliefs as well, and they have every right to work with agencies that share their values.

Children and parents alike rely on these organizations in order to build loving families.  Do not compel these organizations and individuals to violate their religious beliefs as a condition of continuing adoption-placements.  Many would be forced to close their doors rather than forsake their beliefs if the original language is reinstated.  Please reaffirm the April 20 decision to avert the tragic implications such a situation would create.


Kate Higbee

CommentID: 18849