US President Donald Trump's administration on Wednesday said it would grant a waiver to a South Carolina ministry so it can continue to participate in a federally-funded foster care program despite refusing to work with non-Christian families.
Greenville-based Miracle Hill ministries had, according to local media, refused to work with Jewish families -- violating a Barack Obama-era rule banning federally-funded organizations from discriminating on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.
But South Carolina governor Henry McMaster requested that the Trump administration issue a waiver, which it did Wednesday.
"The government should not be in the business of forcing foster care providers to close their doors because of their faith. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right," said Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Lynn Johnson.
"Faith-based organizations that provide foster care services not only perform a great service for their communities, they are exercising a legally-protected right to practice their faith through good works."
The decision was immediately slammed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"Prospective foster and adoptive parents should be judged only on their capacity to provide love and support to a child -— not their faith," said Leslie cooper.
Noting that eight states allow state-contracted child welfare agencies to exclude prospective families based on religious beliefs, she called upon Congress to intervene to avoid a "devastating domino effect" in the rest of the US.