State officials give up campaign to shutter Christian adoption agency

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Officials in the state of New York have agreed to drop their campaign to shutter an adoption agency that makes decisions based on biblical values – and they’ll also pay $250,000 in lawyers’ fees incurred by the agency in its fight to stay alive and continue helping children and mothers.

The confirmation comes in a Washington Examiner column by Nicole Russell, a contributor to the publication’s Beltway Confidential.

She explained the latest development in what has been a war across America by some governments that demand absolute adherence to their “nondiscrimination” laws against Christian agencies that follow the biblical standard for marriage and family.

“Faith-based agencies argue for the right to operate according to their beliefs, even if it means adopting only to heterosexual couples. Local governments are responsible for ensuring that the agencies they partner with abide by local discrimination laws,” she said.

“In a surprising settlement regarding this very issue, New York state officials have agreed to pay $250,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs after attempting for years to shutter New Hope Family Services’ doors. New Hope’s supposed offense? Operating in accordance with its religious beliefs,” she wrote.

She pointed out that the decision to give up the state campaign to close down the agency followed two key court rulings.

“One ruling in 2020 temporarily ruled in favor of the faith-based adoption provider. Another ruling in 2022 prohibited the state of New York from enforcing state law ‘insofar as it would compel New Hope to process applications from, or place children for adoption with, same-sex couples or unmarried cohabitating couples, and insofar as it would prevent New Hope from referring such couples to other agencies,'” she explained.

She noted the agency focuses on helping new mothers and their children but gets no funding from the state.

“For four years, the New York Office of Children and Family Services agency threatened to shut it down, despite the fact that it received no state funding because New Hope would only place children with a married mother and father, based on orthodox religious beliefs,” she said.

The Supreme Court already has ruled on substantially the same facts, when it said in the 2020 decision Fulton v. the City of Philadelphia that the city’s refusal to work with a Catholic foster agency to help place children in need in homes violated the First Amendment. That agency also declined to violate biblical standards in its placements.

Still, she noted, New York targeted New Hope.

WND reported last year that the federal district court hearing the New Hope case told the state it was not allowed to shut down the operation.

At the time, the court said, “New Hope has succeeded on the merits of its First Amendment claim against OCFS” and “the balance of the hardships is in New Hope’s favor; it faces harm to its rights under the First Amendment and is subject to closure if the Court does not issue a permanent injunction.”

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