Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., dished on President Joe Biden in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News this week, saying he believes, among other things, that the current commander-in-chief is “at war with all faith-based agencies.”
During a Tuesday interview, the lawmaker talked about an effort he is leading with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and more than 100 other Republican lawmakers “to pressure the Biden administration over its November decision to rescind waivers to faith-based adoption and foster agencies in South Carolina, Texas, and Michigan, which let them operate according to their religious beliefs by allowing them not to place children with same-sex and unmarried couples,” the outlet reported.
Rescinding the waiver, which applies nationwide, “means faith-based agencies will either be forced to forego their beliefs to obtain federal funding, or face closing altogether,” Breitbart News added.
“This is not about the [faith-based] agencies, regardless of fact that [the Biden administration] wants do away with them. It’s about the children, and it’s about providing care. These children that are in foster care — and I’ve been on several boards that have dealt with this — are not there because they choose to be there,” Norman said.
“They’re there because of circumstances, and to take this away, to take the facilities away — because they’re strapped funding-wise, anyway — it’s just not right,” he continued.
More than 100 lawmakers sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra ahead of Christmas detailing the impact his decision will have on the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids and demanded he explain his action to them.
“As you know, rescinding the waivers puts providers in these states in the untenable position of choosing between serving children under the Title IV-E foster care program or operating in accordance with the tenets of their faith – the same faith that drives them to serve children in the first place,” they wrote.
“HHS should be welcoming child welfare providers, not excluding them. Children are too important to be pawns in political games,” the letter added.
An Obama-era regulation, also known as the 2016 Grants Rule, mandates that no person should be excluded from participating in the administration of HHS programs based on age, disability, race, color, national origin, religion, gender, identity, or sexual orientation. Recipients must comply with the policy to receive HHS funding.
Not unlike now, these same faith-based agencies were at risk of losing funding under the Obama administration following the creation of the rule. But when President Donald Trump took office, he contended the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) entitled the agencies to protection from exclusion from the HHS program because of their faith. Thus, faith-based agencies were granted waivers and allowed to continue finding homes for children in their care.
HHS released an announcement labeled “HHS Takes Action to Prevent Discrimination and Strengthen Civil Rights” on Nov. 18 claiming that rescinding the waivers will “further civil rights and equal opportunity for all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion.”
In addition, HHS claimed the department is simply reaffirming “its important commitment to core American values” by not condoning “discrimination” against LGBTQ+ persons and called the waivers “inappropriate” and “overly broad.”
“Today’s action supports the bedrock American principle and a core mission of our Department – to ensure Americans have access to quality health and human services. Our action ensures we are best prepared to protect every American’s right to be free of discrimination,” Becerra said in a statement.
“With the large number of discrimination claims before us, we owe it to all who come forward to act, whether to review, investigate or take appropriate measures to protect their rights. At HHS, we treat any violation of civil rights or religious freedoms seriously,” he added.
Norman’s legislative aide, Darcy Merline, said after the new rule, there is “no way” religious agencies can qualify now for a waiver.
“When Secretary Becerra rescinded these religious exemptions in these specific states, he didn’t give any ways that they have been qualified for these waivers in the future,” Merline said.
“Essentially, there are no more waivers, and these welfare providers are put in the situation that they have to decide between following their faith — their faith that often has led them to be in this position to serve — or being able to provide for these children, and have access to these funds from HHS. They’re in a really terrible situation,” Merline said.
“HHS’s action [doesn’t] help anyone. They’re only hurting children. They’re hurting foster families. They’re hurting states that will have to pick up the slack,” she said.
Breitbart News asked Norman at what point does he believe the government crosses into “religious persecution.”
“I think we’re there now,” he replied. “If you’ll do this to a child…that says it all in my opinion.”