Tennessee Jewish Couple Sues State After Christian Adoption Agency Denies Services | American News

A Jewish couple in Tennessee have filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Children’s Services after a state-funded Christian program denied them foster care services for religious reasons.

According to trial filed Wednesday, Elizabeth and Gabriel Rutan-Ram enrolled in the foster parent training course and home study certification process last January at Holston United Methodist Home for Children.

On January 21, 2021, the same day the Rutan-Rams were due to begin the foster parent training course at Holston, an employee “emailed Ms. Rutan-Ram to inform her that Holston would not be serving the Rutans. -Rams because of the Jewish faith”.

The employee wrote: “As a Christian organization, our leadership team made the decision several years ago to only provide adoption services to potential adoptive families who share our belief system in order to avoid conflicts or delays in the provision of future services.”

In one declaration published earlier this week, Gabriel Rutan-Ram slammed the organization saying: ‘It is infuriating to hear that our tax dollars fund discrimination against us. If an agency receives taxpayers’ money to provide a service, then everyone should be served – it doesn’t matter if you are Jewish, Catholic or atheist. We are all citizens of Tennessee, regardless of our religion.

In response to the lawsuit, Brad Williams, president and CEO of Holston, said the organization seeks to place the children with families who “agree with our statement of faith.”

“Vulnerable children must not lose access to Christian families who choose to become foster or adoptive parents. Holston Home places children in families who agree with our statement of faith, and forcing Holston Home to violate our beliefs and place children in homes that do not share our faith is wrong and contrary to a free society” , Williams noted in a statement to NBC News.

In early 2020, the state’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed a controversial adoption bill that allows faith-based fostering and adoption programs to use taxpayer dollars, even though the programs exclude families of diverse religious backgrounds and sexual orientations.

Lee, who is a Christian, called to defend “very important” religious beliefs. Other states with similar legislation include South Dakota, Texas, Alabama, Virginia, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Mississippi.

Anti-Defamation League Southern Division critical Lee at the time in a statement that said, “Allowing a taxpayer-funded child placement agency to discriminate is outrageous. No child should be denied a loving foster or adoptive home simply because of a prospective parent’s religion, sexual orientation, or identity.

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