February 2021 Church & State Magazine | People & Events

As the Trump administration was preparing to depart Washington, D.C., officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services left behind a parting shot: a new rule that strips critical protections against discrimination in federally funded grant programs.

Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser criticized the rule, which was released Jan. 7.

“The federal government should protect our country’s most vulnerable people instead of issuing rules that license discrimination,” Laser said. “People should never be turned away from the services they need. That is especially true for children in foster care and the families who want to provide them with loving, safe homes. Rather than prioritizing the best interests of children and families, the Trump administration’s new rule invites taxpayer-funded foster care agencies to discriminate against them.”

Added Laser, “Discrimination should never be funded or supported by our government, but that’s exactly what this rule does. Families, senior citizens and children could lose protections against discrimination and suddenly be turned away from taxpayer-funded programs they need. That includes people like Americans United client Aimee Maddonna, who was turned away from helping children in foster care by a government-funded agency solely because Aimee is Catholic – the ‘wrong’ religion according to an evangelical Protestant agency in South Carolina.

“It’s morally and legally wrong that the Trump administration would spend its final days in office issuing rules that misuse religious freedom to justify discrimination.”

Laser said she hopes that the Biden-Harris administration will revoke the rule.

“We urge the Biden-Harris administration to restore and protect religious freedom and right the wrongs of the Trump administration, including by directing the Department of Health and Human Services immediately to begin the process of revoking this rule,” Laser said. “Americans United will continue to fight the Trump administration’s discriminatory practices in court on behalf of Aimee and her family.”