PJI to Oregon Court of Appeals: Christian Teachings Aren’t Dangerous to Foster Kids

SALEM, OR – In denying Shawn and Teresa Kellim a foster care license because their sincerely religious beliefs prevent them from affirming homosexuality and transgenderism, Oregon’s Department of Human Services (“DHS”) essentially declared Christian teachings dangerous to foster kids.

Unwilling to take DHS’ ruling lying down, the Christian married couple from Glide, Oregon sought assistance from the Pacific Justice Institute (“PJI”), which appealed DHS’ ruling on their behalf. PJI recently filed its opening brief in the Kellims’ case before the Oregon Court of Appeals.

“DHS’ action blatantly suggests that Kellim’s free exercise of religion does not apply to foster care youth, and it is unquestionably an attack on Christianity,” said PJI Oregon staff attorney, Ray D. Hacke. “The Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear multiple times in the past several years that the First Amendment prohibits government agencies from proceeding in a manner intolerant toward the Christian faith.”

PJI president Brad Dacus, said the Kellims’ case has implications not just for foster parents, but for parents actively raising their biological or adopted children in accordance with their faith. “If states like Oregon can effectively declare that certain religious beliefs concerning gender and sexuality are dangerous to kids, then every parent in this country who declines to provide LGBT+ affirming care to their children stands to have their children ripped from their homes and face long, expensive, possibly futile court battle to get them back unless they abandon their faiths’ teachings,” Dacus said. “That doesn’t just show hostility to religion, it denies kids the care of loving adults who can give them the love, guidance, and stability they desperately need. Religious individuals like the Kellims have long stepped up to provide such care to kids whose biological parents couldn’t care for them. PJI is fighting this battle to ensure that loving couples like the Kellims can continue to do so in a manner consistent with their faith.”

We are proud to say that, for over 25 years and always without charge, PJI’s unique goal is to ensure that no one is left on the side of the road as it relates to their representation and defense of critical religious freedoms, parental rights and sanctity of life issues. We appreciate your partnership, and willingness to continue to give support and a strong voice to those who struggle against the forces of oppression.

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