July-August 2020 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

Foster parents in New Jersey did not have a legal right to indoctrinate two children in their care with anti-LGBTQ views, a federal court has ruled.

Michael and Jennifer Lasche sued the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) after two sisters, aged 10 and 13, were removed from their care in 2017. When the couple learned that a same-sex couple in Illinois was interested in adopting the sisters, they allegedly began preaching to the children about their personal religious beliefs and opposition to LGBTQ rights. The children later expressed anti-LGBTQ views to DCPP officials during a visit.

The Lasches said they had taken the children to their church, but insisted the sisters had developed the anti-LGBTQ views on their own. The Lasches contended that the state had expressed hostility toward their religious views, but a federal court disagreed.

“[T]here is no legal support for Plaintiffs’ assertion of a First Amendment right to share their religious beliefs with their foster child, who was neither their biological child nor their adoptive child,” observed the court. “In fact, finding that foster parents have an unfettered constitutional right to share their religious beliefs with a foster child would seemingly conflict with the free exercise rights of the foster children and his or her biological parents.” (Lasche v. State of New Jersey)