Victory! Gov. Abbott Signs Religious Liberty Bill, Freedom to Serve Children Act
Legislation designed to allow faith-based foster homes and adoption agencies to keep operating according to their faith-based principles (HB 3859) was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott this afternoon.
HB 3859, authored by Rep. James Frank, protects faith-based providers from being targets of discrimination or litigation if they do not refer girls for abortion or if they only place children in homes with a married mother and father.
One-fourth of all foster care agencies in Texas are faith-based, but there has been a trend nationally of religious placement organizations closing as the result of being forced to deny their beliefs. Because of the crisis in state-run foster care, faith-based providers have been asked to do more to help care for foster children. Many faith-based providers want to do so, but before HB 3859, state law did not protect them from being targets of grant discrimination or litigation.
“The signing into law of the Freedom to Serve Children Act (HB 3859) is a major victory for children and for religious liberty in Texas. Faith-based providers across Texas are now free to recruit foster families and place children with loving families,” said Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values. “HB 3859 ensures that there’s a place at the table for everyone at a time when Texas children need everyone at the table. We’re grateful for the leadership of bill authors Rep. James Frank, Sen. Charles Perry, as well as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Abbott for agreeing that faith-based foster care providers should be free to serve.”
During the 85th Legislature, representatives from major child welfare providers like Buckner International and Catholic Charities expressed concern that without a state law to protect their freedom of conscience they would be forced to shut down rather than place children in homes in a way that defies their religious values.
“Our foster care children deserve all the loving support Texans can give them,” said Nicole Hudgens, policy analyst for Texas Values. “No one helping Texas children should be forced to close because of their faith.”
HB 3859 was supported by a broad group providers, individuals, leaders and statewide organizations across the state, including: Texas Catholic Conference, Catholic Diocese of Austin, Catholic Health Association of Texas, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas Baptist Home, Children’s Home of Lubbock, Buckner Children & Family Services, Christian Life Commission of Texas Baptists, Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, First Liberty Institute, Texas Values Action, Concerned Women for America, Center of the Preservation of American Ideals, Texas Right to Life and many more.
About Texas Values
Texas Values is a nonprofit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvalues.org