Bill authored by Rep. James Frank provides conscience protection for organizations and individuals wishing to serve in Texas’ foster care system
AUSTIN — Catholic organizations in Texas welcomed the progress of a bill providing people motivated by their religious beliefs the freedom to serve children in Texas’ foster care system.
House bill 3859, authored by Rep. James Frank, Wichita Falls, allows organizations and individuals with sincerely-held religious beliefs to remove themselves from actions in direct violation of their faith. This includes assisting a child in obtaining an abortion and providing services to same sex couples in the foster care system.
The bill provides mechanisms for the state to ensure these services are provided.
“When this becomes law, Catholic Charities will be able to bring our expertise and resources to the aid of some of our most desparate and needy children,” said Sara Ramirez, CEO for Catholic Charities of Central Texas. “We are willing to return to the field and work side-by-side with all people of good will so that no child is further traumatized by an inadequate foster care system.”
Only one out of every four providers in Texas is a faith-based organization. “Providing conscience protection for families will enable pastors to encourage loving families to be part of a caring network for these children,” explained Cynthia Colbert, CEO of Catholic Charities Houston. “It will also allow faith-based providers to re-engage with Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) without worrying that potential lawsuits will take limited resources away from the people we should be helping.”
Jennifer Carr Allmon, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, expressed gratitude to Rep. Frank and other representatives for their support of the legislation. “We look forward to a swift approval by the Senate and the Governor’s signature, as this is a critical element of the foster care system reform.”
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops is the association of the Roman Catholic bishops of Texas. Through the TCCB, the bishops provide a moral and social public policy voice that includes monitoring all legislation pertaining to Catholic moral and social teaching; accredit the state's Catholic schools; and maintain records that reflect the work and the history of the Catholic Church in Texas.