Written by Don Byrd

Texas’ House State Affairs Committee yesterday held a hearing to consider legislation that would allow faith-based organizations to provide services in accordance with their religious beliefs. This is controversial in part because child placement is funded by the state, which often contracts with religious organizations to provide such services. In effect, House Bill 3859 seeks to exempt such religious agencies from certain regulations that are followed by other providers, if it would conflict with their religious beliefs.

The Texas Tribune reports:


Frank’s bill, faith-based providers would be allowed to deny a foster or adoptive placement if it’s against their religious beliefs; place a child in a religion-based school; deny referrals for abortion-related contraceptives, drugs or devices; and refuse to contract with other organizations that go against their religious beliefs.

Katherine Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, a nonpartisan group focused on religious freedom and individual liberties, spoke against the bill during the hearing. She said the legislation “does not assert [that] the best interest of the child outweighs the sincerely held religious beliefs” of a faith-based provider.

“This bill would allow individual and organizations to use religion to discriminate and harm others,” Miller said.

The committee took no action on the measure.

Earlier this month, South Dakota enacted a law that similarly sought to protect religious child placement agencies.