In an unusual move, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, a long-standing ally of President Donald Trump, has personally intervened with the Department of Health and Human Services to secure a religious exemption from federal nondiscrimination laws for a Christian foster-care-placement agency in his state. Without the exemption, the placement agency, Miracle Hill Ministries, of Greenville, is at risk of losing its license because it refuses to place foster children with non-Christian families. Like other such agencies that participate in state foster-care programs that receive federal funds, Miracle Hill would normally be barred from discriminating on the basis of religion.
McMaster, a Republican who is running for reelection, acted in February after his own state agency, the Department of Social Services (DSS), warned Miracle Hill that its license as a child-placing agency (CPA) was at risk after it had given regulators “reason to believe” that it “intends to refuse to provide its services as a licensed Child Placing Agency to families who are not specifically Christians from a Protestant denomination,” according to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a public-records request and shared with The Nation and the Investigative Fund. In addition to requesting federal intervention, McMaster issued an executive order exempting faith-based CPAs from state laws that prohibit religious discrimination.
Miracle Hill had given regulators “reason to believe” that it “intends to refuse to provide its services as a licensed Child Placing Agency to families who are not specifically Christians from a Protestant denomination.”