Jan 07, 2021

Americans United for Separation of Church and State President and CEO Rachel Laser released the following statement in response to the Department of Health and Human Services today issuing a rule that strips critical protections against discrimination in federally funded grant programs:

“The federal government should protect our country’s most vulnerable people instead of issuing rules that license discrimination. 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.

“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. 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. Americans United will continue to fight the Trump administration’s discriminatory practices in court on behalf of Aimee and her family.”

More information about AU’s lawsuit on behalf of Aimee Maddonna, Maddonna v. HHSis available here.

An overview of AU’s “Agenda to Restore & Protect Religious Freedom” for the Biden-Harris administration is available here.

Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom. Learn more at www.au.org.