NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — A panel of Tennessee judges has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a couple who alleged that a state-sponsored Christian adoption agency refused to help them because they are Jewish.
The lawsuit against the state challenged a 2020 law that installed legal protections for private adoption agencies to reject state-funded placement of children to parents based on religious beliefs.
Much of the criticism of the law had focused on how it allowed adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people. But Elizabeth and Gabriel Rutan-Ram sued over claims that they were discriminated against because they were Jewish, in violation of their state constitutional rights.
"This attempt to redefine religious freedom is part of the growing Christian nationalist movement. Christian nationalism is, as Georgetown professor Paul D. Miller writes, a "political ideology" rather than a religious one, that seeks "to define America as a Christian nation" in which our government must "promote a specific cultural template as the official culture of the country."
By redefining America in this way, Christian nationalism similarly defines who cannot be a part of America -- namely, non-Christians, as well as others who do not fit within the movement's cultural template -- such as people of color, immigrants and LGBTQ people.
Make no mistake: Christian nationalism is the opposite of religious freedom. What these right-wing actors advocate for is not religious freedom, but rather the ability of some Christians to be exempted from laws that don't conform to their theology. Christian nationalism is closely linked to White supremacy. Both share at their core the notion that America is only for people who share their White Christian identity, an identity that necessarily excludes Jewish Americans.
There's an alarming rise in anti-Semitism in the United States, visible in acts of violence and discrimination. We must do all we can to protect the rights and safety of religious minorities in our country.
Another prominent legal challenge is taking place in South Carolina. There, a Protestant child welfare agency that receives taxpayer funding turned away a Catholic woman and a Jewish woman from serving as a foster child mentor."