FFRF has persuaded a Tennessee state department to end its promotion of belief in a god.
FFRF wrote to the state’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS) warning it against endorsing religion to those wishing to become foster parents.
A concerned Tennessee resident who had gone through such training reported to FFRF that the department required aspiring foster parents to watch a video called “Characteristics of Resource Parents” that included a segment called “Spirituality.” The segment opened by explaining that “a belief in something greater than you that you can go to for peace and comfort” is necessary to face “the challenges of adding additional children to your family.” The introduction was followed by clips of foster parents discussing the importance of religion and reliance on God in foster care.
“By requiring potential foster parents to watch a video advocating for religious belief, the Department of Children’s Services is impermissibly endorsing religion and violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” wrote FFRF’s Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow Christopher Line.
The required video conveyed a discriminatory preference by Department of Children’s Services for foster parents with religious beliefs by implying that a belief in a higher power is required to be a foster parent. This misguided assertion is alienating to the nearly one-quarter of Americans who are not religious.
FFRF requested that the DCS discontinue using the portion of its training video that endorses religion. The department responded on July 23, informing FFRF that it had removed the video segment on “spirituality” from its foster parent training.
FFRF applauds the decision.
“A reliance on God is certainly not a prerequisite to good parenting,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services has done the right thing by tossing the segment from its training.”