Tennessee Faith Leaders Say New Adoption Bill Would Open Gates To Religious Discrimination | Nashville Public Radio

Tennessee Faith Leaders Say New Adoption Bill Would Open Gates To Religious Discrimination

Apr 3, 2019

Private adoption agencies in Tennessee could soon be able to reject would-be parents based on their religious beliefs.

Advocacy groups such as the Tennessee Equity Project have slammed the bill (HB836/SB1304), saying it opens the doors for discrimination against the LGBTQ community in Tennessee.

But concerns are also being raised by some religious groups.

Pointing at the history of discrimination against Jewish people, Rabbi Philip Rice, of the Brentwood-based Congregation Micah, says he believes in respecting religious differences.

But he worries an adoption bill pushed by Republicans in the Tennessee legislature could invite discrimination, something he says goes against most religions.

“Jesus seems to know it. Buddha seems to know it. Our Jewish tradition put it like this: what is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor," Rice told reporters Tuesday. "And this legislation is hateful.”

Under the measure, privately licensed adoption agencies would be able to reject an application if the placement would violate their written religious convictions or policies.

Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, said Monday on the House floor his legislation would protect faith-based organizations from being sued for following their moral beliefs.

The House approved the bill 67-22. The Senate is expected to consider the measure in a few weeks. 

The legislation would affect some, but not all adoptions in the state.

According to the Department of Children’s Services, about 40 percent of adoptions in Tennessee last year went through outside agencies.