Vermont to Christian Foster Families: Change Your Religion, Or Else (Update)

Is Vermont still in the United States of America? Or has it joined the Khmer Rouge, the Soviet Union, or other relics of totalitarian regimes that demand "re-education" of citizens with opposing viewpoints for access to government programs?


Two fostering families filed a lawsuit this week, as reported yesterday exclusively by Mary Margaret Olohan at the Daily Signal, for violations of their First Amendment right to free religious expression. According to their lawsuit, these two families have a long track record of success in foster placement, especially for babies born from mothers struggling with addictions. Care to guess why Vermont, which faces a foster-placement crisis at the moment, kicked them out of the program?

Oh, let's not always see the same hands ...

A new lawsuit alleges that Vermont blocked two families from fostering children, despite the state’s foster care system crisis, because the families held traditional, religious views on gender and sexuality.

Brian and Kaitlyn Wuoti and Michael and Rebecca Gantt accused the Vermont Department for Children and Families of mandating an “ideological position at the expense of children” in a lawsuit filed Tuesday. Both Brian Wuoti and Michael Gantt are pastors, and both families hold traditional, Christian religious views.

Between them, the families have not only established records of success in fostering at-risk children, they have also adopted five of them along the way. And that's a good thing too, as Olohan reports, because Vermont is practically begging for families to open their homes to children in state custody -- especially with the uptick in drug addiction in recent years. It had gotten so bad last year that Vermont government agencies went out and campaigned for more families to enter the program, as they had been forced to leave children in emergency rooms and police stations to live.


But Vermont would rather have that than to place children in homes living by traditional Christian teachings. Vermont actually passed that into statute, although somewhat ambiguously as to enforcement, by requiring foster parents to "show respect for the worth of all individuals, regardless of ... gender identity, sexual identity," and ordering foster parents to "support children in wearing" items that affirm their gender identity, among a laundry list of other identitarian issues. 

What specifically is meant by "respect" and "support"? They're vague terms that basically grant bureaucrats the rule of whim rather than provide citizens the rule of law, especially in respect to the First Amendment. And that absurdity reached full reductio when the Vermont Department of Children and Families -- the agency that sent out the emergency appeal a year ago -- came to the Gantts to place a child in their home:

Similarly, the Department for Children and Families asked the Gantts to take in an emergency placement that involved a baby about to be born to a homeless woman who was addicted to drugs. Before the Gantts could agree to do so, the department sent out an email letting families know that they must accept the State’s views on gender ideology “even if the foster parents hold divergent personal opinions or beliefs,” according to the lawsuit.

“The Gantts responded that they would unconditionally love and support any children placed with them, but they would not forsake their religious beliefs that people should value their God-given bodies,” the lawsuit states. “The Department refused to let the Gantts take the baby in need and instead revoked their license.”


Was this a child that had already begun expressing a gender identity? No; the child hadn't even been born yet. The issue of gender identity wouldn't have come up at all in any sort of conversation with this child for years to come. And yet the state of Vermont would rather abandon that child rather than place him/her (don't get me started) with a loving Christian family with a long history of success in supporting babies born to addicted mothers.

The Wuotis' experience turned into something more akin to Stalinist regimes. When renewing their license for fostering, the state demanded that they sign a pledge to comply with the new statutes. At the time, one of the Department's caseworkers had declared them to be "AMAZING" and the most wonderful family in the system. The state asked them (and the Gantts) whether they'd be willing to take their foster children to Pride parades and use 'preferred pronouns,' and they refused on the basis of a conflict with their Christian faith. Their application was denied and they were drummed out of the program.

But one bureaucrat offered "re-education" as an option, as well as ... apostasy:

“We were surprised, because they are typically always trying to match children with families as best they can, and so we assumed maybe they would say, ‘Ok, maybe we won’t place an LGBT child with this family,’” said Brian Wuoti.

“We were offered to be reeducated and given the choice that they could either revoke our foster license or we could take some education materials, and they could give us up to a year to change our faith,” added Michael Gantt. “And I said, ‘No, we are not going to change our faith in the next year; absolutely not.’”


Since when is it in the power of government to "educate" its citizens on matters of faith? And what authority do bureaucrats in Vermont or anywhere else in the US have to order citizens to change religions or face exclusion from public life? Perhaps a few people have forgotten this, but this country was founded on the principle of freedom of religious expression -- and it is so foundational that it is written in the very first amendment of the Bill of Rights. 

This is the future that the Left has planned for us -- a dystopian, Orwellian nightmare in which government controls everything, and only those compliant with their radical and ever-changing agenda can survive. Their biggest target is those faithful to God, as it always is when Marxists attempt to take control, because they will suffer no other God before the State. And they are most certainly coming after the children, as this effort to shuffle children into trans-friendly foster homes makes clear.

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I spoke about this case with Alliance Defending Freedom's Johannes Wildmalm-Delphonse while guest-hosting for Drew Mariani on Relevant Radio® yesterday. I also uncorked a rant along the way, and in the second half of the hour, I spoke with Prof. Rick Garnett about some interesting SCOTUS cases coming down the pike. Hope you enjoy the discussion, and let's hope the courts put a hard stop to Vermont's Orwellian government. 


Update: Professor Garnett and I briefly discussed NRA v Vullo in the second (unrelated) half of that hour, and it has a direct application here. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that New York had violated the NRA's First Amendment rights by threatening to punish their contractors via special regulatory enforcement. That's not exactly analogous, but it does address the kind of regulatory squelching of the First Amendment by bureaucrats using vaguely worded statutes. Keep that in mind as this lawsuit progresses. 

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