in New Jersey would mandate that children in foster care be
placed with foster families who share the same religion "to the maximum
extent practicable." The bill was proposed after a Christian family
took a Muslim foster child to a Christian church, forbid him from going to a
mosque, changed his name, and tried to end visits from his Muslim parents.
All of which is already unallowed in the New Jersey state foster system.
On paper, it's easy to see how this bill would be a good thing for foster
children. Foster children already go through a lot of trauma going from home to
home. The transition would be a lot easier if their new family celebrated the
same holidays, had the same traditions, and had the same values.In practice, however, this bill will
ultimately fail the foster system.
The definition of religion is subjective. According to any religious studies
course, both Buddhism and Scientology are religious movements, but if you ask
any Buddhist or Scientologist, they would say its an 'alternate way of
thinking' rather than a religion. It would be too difficult to determine
what falls under the definition of a 'religion.'
Also, what about Christians? Around 75% of the United States population is Christian, but inside Christianity
there are over 38,000 different denominations. Many are too small and
insignificant to categorize, but even the major denominations under the
umbrella of Christianity view themselves as different from the rest. Many
Protestants do not view Mormons as Christians, but Mormons view themselves as
the truest of Christians. Also, Catholics, even though by definition are
Christian, view themselves as separate from Protestants since Protestants "protested"
against the Catholic Church in its beginnings. What one person considers
"Christian" another might not.
Let's not forget about Zoroastrianism, Judaism, or Hinduism. All are
smaller religions in the U.S. but still have a significant presence. How do we
match up children to these religions? The child might have to make a
significant move in order to find a foster family of the same religion.Not to
mention the countless smaller religions and new religious movements of the U.S. Should they not be considered if they don't
have a large enough following? And who is in charge of deciding what religions
are large enough to consider?
This bill is just not practical. Although religion usually plays a major role
in a child's life, the first priority of the foster care system should be
placement with a loving and caring family. The state already makes a
"reasonable effort" to place children with a family of the same
religion. These new terms could send the foster care system on a wild
goose chase to find families that fit their religious guidelines, making the
child's wait for a family even longer. Any bill that makes foster child
placement more difficult should not be passed.