After months of speculation, the Trump administration has used the cover of a shut-down government to greenlight the kind of discrimination that recalls policies of Nazi Germany. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar signed a waiver on Wednesday that allows Miracle Hill Ministries, a federally funded Protestant foster care agency in South Carolina, to break federal law. The law that Miracle Hill Ministries has been given the right to break is one that usually protects people of faith from being discriminated against. In this case, Jewish families are being discriminated against by Miracle Hill Ministries, by being denied the chance to foster children in Miracle Hill’s network—under the foster agency’s “strict religious requirements.”
The waiver argues that HHS nondiscrimination regulations are broader than those outlined in the specific Foster Care Program Statute, which specifies that agencies receiving federal funding can’t deny foster parents based on race, color, or national origin — but not religion.
As the Intercept points out, multiply indicted Texas State Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued a request for a similar waiver, but in his case he hopes to get federal waivers allowing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation as well as religion.
It’s relatively hackneyed at this point to mention how the “religious freedom” that conservatives speak of seems to refer to all of the things religions want to discriminate against others for. And yet, here we are again.