Yes, Private Adoption Agencies Need Religious-Freedom Protections

Illinois and California, among other states, require that private adoption agencies receiving state funds not discriminate against same-sex couples wishing to adopt. As a result, some Catholic adoption agencies in both states, refusing to place children with same-sex couples, have had to shut their doors. Earlier this month, the House Appropriations Committee approved a measure that would preserve the right of religious adoption agencies to operate according to their consciences and still receive government funding. Opponents of the measure have claimed that it legitimizes discrimination and would even deny “tens of thousands of vulnerable children the opportunity to find a loving and safe home.” Brad Polumbo responds:

The amendment won’t stop any lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transsexual person from adopting a child—but it will enable religious child-welfare agencies to help needy kids find a home. Religious people should be able to live by their convictions. . . . Private adoption agencies have First Amendment rights, and their freedom of conscience should be respected, even when their beliefs are politically incorrect or downright discriminatory. Allowing a small number of religious agencies to operate within their belief system doesn’t restrict the ability of gay Americans to adopt, because there are LGBT-friendly agencies all across the country, and there’s no shortage of kids looking for new families.

Government figures reveal that roughly 440,000 children live in foster-care programs while waiting for adoption. On average, it takes two years for a child to be adopted. Toddlers and babies usually are adopted sooner than older children. Opponents of the GOP’s religious-freedom initiative point to the high number of children in foster care and argue that by letting adoption agencies decline same-sex couples, the GOP denies at-risk children the chance to find a loving home. . . .

With hundreds of thousands of kids in foster care, waiting to be adopted, it’s hard to see how rules that shut down child-welfare agencies make sense. The GOP’s new rule wouldn’t magically erase the countless other adoption agencies open to prospective LGBT parents, but it would permit more Christian agencies to operate, thereby increasing our ability to find homes for disadvantaged children.

Ian Thompson of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticizes the religious-freedom amendment on different grounds. Many of the adoption providers in question receive taxpayer dollars. For them to turn away same-sex couples, Thompson argues, would be a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause, which prohibits discrimination by government. . . . That is a standard we apply almost nowhere else. When viewed in context, the idea that taxpayer funding strips a private organization of its First Amendment right [to religious freedom] is absurd.

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More about: Catholic Church, Congress, Freedom of Religion, Gay marriage, Politics & Current Affairs

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war