We are not a theocracy. Write a comment to stop religious groups from behaving badly with our money.

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7 mins read

Action – Write a comment to use of our tax dollars to support religious discrimination. DEADLINE TONIGHT – 11:59 pm EST.

The administration, in the run-up to the holidays when they think we’re distracted, has proposed an offensive and un-American rule change. It would allow any program receiving Health and Human Services (HHS) funding to discriminate against LGBTQ people, religious minorities (including Catholics and Mormons), and women in programs related to foster care, adoption, HIV and STI prevention, refugee resettlement, elder care programs and more… AND STILL RECEIVE TAXPAYER FUNDING! Not on our watch.

  • Write a comment here.
  • Read this proposal here
  • Read other comments here solely for inspiration. DO NOT COPY. Identical copies will be culled. At this time, none of the reported 97,417 comments are on display. Hmmm…

Deeper Dive

The religious right has long been engaged in efforts to remove tax dollars from supporting the reproductive rights and health of women.

  • In 1977, four years after Roe v. Wade, forced-birther Henry J. Hyde pushed through the Hyde Amendment, which prevented tax dollars from being used to pay for abortion except to save the life of a woman, or if the pregnancy started from rape or incest.
  • In the 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed certain employers to block their employee’s access to birth control. The decision on this Supreme Court birth control case applied to more than half of all U.S. workers — that’s the tens of millions of workers at companies in which five or fewer people own more than 50%.
  • In 2017, the Trump Administration issued rules rolling back a federal requirement that employers had to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, if the employer did so based on his/her religious beliefs of moral convictions.

These actions clearly demonstrate that the religious right did not and does not want their money, either directly, or through taxes, going to support women’s right to choose.

OK. Misognynistic and short-sighted, but an easy argument for the public to understand.

Then in 2019, the Trump administration granted a Christian ministry in South Carolina permission to participate in the federally funded foster-care program, even though the group would only work with Christian families, which violates an Obama-era  regulation barring such discrimination. They came to the attention of the state after denying a Jewish woman from their mentoring program.

The Pandora’s box to religious discrimination was opened and now other faith-based organizations want to deny services while operating with our tax dollars in hand. These new rules could also be expanded to any agency that receives HHS funding, including Head Start, Meals on Wheels, agencies that provide HIV/AIDS prevention, community health centers and agencies that support homeless youth. All could openly discriminate and still receive taxpayer dollars. People in small towns with limited service providers or without transportation may be locked out of services they should receive, along with being forced to suffer a humiliating refusal –  essentially, “We don’t work with your kind because we believe you’re evil”.

“Religion is being used as a sword to harm people rather than a shield to protect people,” said Rabbi Jason Kimmel-Block, director of progressive Jewish social justice group Bend the Arc.  He then accused the Trump administration of prioritizing the religious views of some people over the views and rights of others.

Children in foster care will especially be affected. The administration’s plan would reduce the pool of qualified parents wanting to adopt or foster a child when there’s already a shortage of foster homes across the country. Almost 123,000 foster children are awaiting adoption, and a 2018 report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law  found that same-sex couples are significantly more likely than different-sex couples to be raising adopted or foster children — 21 percent compared to 3 percent, respectively.

States Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD: “Children should never be denied the opportunity to join a stable, loving family — even if that means the family is LGBTQ. Research has shown LGBTQ families provide the same kind of love, protection, and support as other families, and no child should be denied that kind of environment. The Trump Administration has once again demonstrated how they prefer to prioritize the gross work of anti-LGBTQ activists over the safety and well-being of our children.”

In the meantime, the Trump administration is practicing how the rule would work by refusing to enforce existing nondiscrimination protections. “HHS’ announcement that it will immediately cease enforcement of existing nondiscrimination protections, rather than adhering to the established procedures for changing regulations such as these, once again demonstrates the Trump administration’s utter disregard for the rule of law,” statedSharon McGowan, the legal director of the LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal.

 We don’t want our money, either in taxes or in direct payment, used to discriminate against our neighbors. Will this make it difficult for some of these faith-based organizations to operate?

Yes. Just like the religious-right has made it exponentially more difficult for Planned Parenthood to operate and for women and their families to get necessary medical services.

Will some of their facilities choose to close if they can’t continue their discriminatory services without public funding? Yes. We’re OK with that.

Originally posted on Indivisible Ventura. Re-posted with permission.


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