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Would-be foster parents rejected for Christian beliefs

Michael and Catherine Burke

SOUTHAMPTON, Mass. (BP) – A Massachusetts couple claims they were denied approval to foster children because of their beliefs regarding LGBT issues.

Michael and Catherine “Kitty” Burke, both devout Catholics, claim the commonwealth’s Department of Children and Families did not approve their application to become foster parents due to their religious beliefs.

The Burkes have filed a complaint in district court, claiming that DCF’s actions are unconstitutional and discriminatory. They are being represented by Becket Law, a non-profit firm specializing in religious liberty cases.

“After months of interviews and training, and after years of heartbreak, we were on the verge of finally becoming parents,” the couple is quoted in a Becket news release. “We were absolutely devastated to learn that Massachusetts would rather children sleep in the hallways of hospitals than let us welcome children in need into our home.”

Like many states, Massachusetts is facing a shortage of foster homes. The state has had to resort to housing children in hospitals due to a lack of available families, Becket reported.

The Burkes – Mike an Iraq war veteran and Catherine a former paraprofessional for special needs kids – went through hours of training and interviews as well as a thorough home inspection. And though they pledged to love and support any child that came into their home, their answers regarding LGBT issues appear to have been disqualifying.

“Throughout the Burkes’ application process, they experienced hostility toward their Catholic beliefs,” their complaint states. “This included the caregiver assessment noting that the Burkes’ ‘faith is not supportive and neither are they.’ … That same assessment expressed ‘apprehension about recommending [the Burkes] as a resource family due to the couple’s views related to people who identify as LGBTQIA++.’”

The case is just one more example of “the state overstepping its authority and failing in its duty,” the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s said in an explainer piece.

“The state has no authority to penalize individuals for their religious beliefs,” the ERLC piece said. “This is a bedrock principle of our constitutional order, and one that has been affirmed repeatedly in court decisions at all levels. 

“Instead, the state does have a duty to promote justice. One way it does that is through the care of the most vulnerable. A loving husband and wife willing to care and provide for a vulnerable child should not be seen as dangerous because they will not support dangerous and medically unnecessary surgical interventions for children experiencing gender dysphoria. No government should use the state’s power to cause children to suffer by advancing a progressive agenda out of step with the actual goal of caring for vulnerable children.”

The ERLC has long supported federal legislation that would prohibit government departments at all levels from discriminating against child welfare providers due to the providers’ “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.”