Rep. James Frank has filed a very simple, but very important piece of legislation protecting religious liberties in an area that might be overlooked: social workers. Specifically, his legislation would protect those working to provide for foster children.
HB 3859 provides protections for social workers who will not make decisions for foster children that conflict with their conscience. Contrary to what some might suggest, the legislation will not allow a social worker to make decisions that will be harmful to the child. In fact, the legislation specifies that the child must receive all services to which they have a right under the law. The legislation simply protects that social worker from being forced, under threat of punishment or termination, to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.
In Wednesday’s committee hearing, the opposition had a key theme: silencing of the child’s wishes. Various social worker groups testified that the child’s wishes, under HB 3859, would not be taken into consideration as it relates to religious, medical, and educational decisions. This testimony included accounts of individuals who identified as gay, lesbian, or transgender and asserted that these individuals would be left without options because of social workers’ religious beliefs. Other individuals testified that they would be denied the ability to foster because they were a same-sex household.
Religious foster organizations testified heavily in favor of HB 3859. Ms. Ullman from the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops explained past lawsuits they have received because they do not, on the basis of their religious beliefs, provide abortions to foster children in their care. They testified, along with several other chapters across the state, in support of the bill because it would allow their organization to serve even more foster children without compromising their religious beliefs.
View the full list of members on the State Affairs committee.
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