Catholic Bishops Close Charities Rather Than Comply With Anti-Discrimination Laws

Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have reacted to their state’s anti-discrimination laws by closing their Catholic Charities affiliates. These charities served the state’s poor and neglected children for more than 40 years and were networked with the state’s own Department of Human Services.

Illinois recently began to require Catholic Charities to accept applications from same-sex couples for foster-care and adoption. The state could no longer justify supporting the affiliates with taxpayer money. In Illinois, the affiliates received from 60 percent to 92 percent of their revenues from the state. Same-sex couples who were turned away complained that their own money was being used to discriminate against them.

The bishops have accused the state of “intolerance” and of violating their First Amendment rights. A circuit judge in Sangamon County thought otherwise. In August 2011 he ruled against Catholic Charities, saying, “No citizen has a recognized legal right to a contract with the government.”

Catholic Charities is to be credited with having helped build Illinois‘ child welfare system, but now their share of responsibility for it will pass to the state and other agencies. The state’s anti-discrimination laws will prevail.


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