Washington, D.C. – A group of 40 Senate Democrats declared war on Catholic Charities and other faith-based child welfare providers on Wednesday by signing a letter opposing the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which passed the House Appropriations Committee earlier this month as part of the FY2019 Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill. The Democrats called on Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) to remove the Inclusion Act from the Senate version of the bill.

The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 1881S.811) is a bipartisan response to rampant discrimination nationwide against faith-based child welfare providers, including Catholic Charities.

Although the majority of Senate Democrats signed onto the letter opposing the bill, nine Democrats did not:

  • Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana)
  • Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota)
  • Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama)
  • Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)
  • Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia)
  • Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri)
  • Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington)
  • Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida)
  • Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York)

Terry Schilling, Executive Director at American Principles Project (APP), said the 40 Democrats sent a clear message:

‘This is war.’ That’s the message 40 Senate Democrats just sent to faith-based child welfare providers all across the country. They made it clear that they would rather see children suffer than allow these faith-based providers to continue to exist and serve their communities. These 40 Democrats want to shut it all down — damn the kids, damn the consequences.

“The remaining nine Democrats must choose: Do you stand with Catholic Charities? Do you oppose anti-religious bigotry? Or will you simply stand by as people of faith are forced from the public square for holding beliefs that violate progressive orthodoxy? Your constituents deserve an answer.”

Schilling said this issue is likely to rear its head in the 2018 elections, especially for senators facing difficult re-election campaigns in swing states:

“Is Joe Manchin really going to tell West Virginians we need to shut down all these Christian providers? Is he really going to ignore the opioid crisis and displace thousands of children just to make a few LGBT lobbyists in Washington happy? This is an important issue. We need to know exactly where he stands.”

In April, the Heritage Foundation conducted a nationwide poll on this issue: 58 percent of voters support making sure all adoption agencies can continue to serve children and families, over requiring that faith-based agencies violate their religious beliefs and place children with LGBT parents.

To schedule an interview with Terry Schilling, contact Paul Dupont at (o) 202-503-2010 or pdupont@americanprinciplesproject.org.