Governor Henry McMaster issues executive order to protect Miracle Hill Ministries and other faith-based organizations in South Carolina.
The Governor’s executive order comes in the wake of the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) threatening to revoke Miracle Hill Ministries’ child-placing license if it did not end what SCDSS considered to be inappropriate screening policies.
Miracle Hill Ministries, a faith-based organization located in Greenville, solely recruits Christian families for its foster care program. On its foster care inquiry form, Miracle Hill states that, “all children entrusted to our care are to be cared for in an atmosphere that is conducive to spiritual growth, development, and moral direction. Each child is expected to participate in worship with the foster family at their local church as well as in the home.”
Following his signing of the executive order, Governor McMaster tweeted that, “as long as I’m your governor, I will not allow anyone to take away your religious liberties. Today I signed an executive order that will ensure the rights of individuals and organizations to religious freedom.”
The Governor’s executive order explains that the State has “no compelling interest in limiting faith-based organizations’ participation as CPAs [Child Placement Agencies].” Further, it states that “the licensing and participation of faith-based organizations in South Carolina’s foster-care system is a long-standing and constitutionally permissible practice.” In addition to protecting Christian Child Placement Agencies, the order also orders SCDSS and all Cabinet agencies to review their policies, procedures, and regulations as to not penalize religious activity.
“By Governor McMaster taking a decisive stand and going ahead and issuing an executive order, he has helped to protect our ability to continue to serve foster children and foster families in this state,” said Sandy Furnell, Communications and Marketing Director at Miracle Hill. “We want to be there for the children. We really do want to partner with the state.”
A spokeswoman for SCDSS could not be immediately reached for comment.
In defending Miracle Hill Ministries, Governor McMaster keeps the largest foster care program in South Carolina open. In 2017, Miracle Hill Foster Care served 418 children, and saw 31 of those children become adopted. Over 240 families are currently participating in Miracle Hill’s foster program.
Photo Credit: Miracle Hill Ministries Facebook Page
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