According to a new federal lawsuit, a New York state agency violated a Christian adoption agency’s constitutional rights by opening an investigation and then harassing it about its beliefs on marriage.
The lawsuit alleges that the New York State Division of Human Rights opened the investigation into New Hope Family Services even though New Hope has enjoyed multiple court victories in recent months.
New Hope is privately funded and does not accept government money.
Founded in 1958, the mission of New Hope is to “be Christ’s hands extended to offer hope and help to people with pregnancy, parenting, adoption, or post-abortion needs” throughout the area, the suit says. Its adoption ministry primarily focuses on placing infants and very young children into homes.
The most recent controversy began in August when an individual contacted New Hope about its adoption services. The adoption agency responded that because of its “convictions as a Christian adoption service,” it “works with adoptive families built around a married husband and wife.” The agency also said it would be willing to provide contact information about other adoption services in the area – such as those that work with same-sex families.
That same individual then filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights, which gave New Hope 15 days to respond to the allegations. The complaint alleges the ministry is violating state law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing New Hope. ADF says two federal courts – the Northern District of New York and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals – previously have found that the state’s actions against the ministry likely are unconstitutional.
New York is “threatening to investigate and penalize New Hope” under the same law and “for exactly the conduct and speech which courts have already held are protected by the First Amendment,” the suit says.
“As multiple federal court decisions have found, government officials have no business forcing faith-based providers to choose between contradicting their religious convictions and closing their doors,” said ADF senior counsel Roger Brooks. “What is happening to New Hope Family Services is part of a disturbing trend from Alaska and Washington to Colorado and New York: Activists are weaponizing the legal system to ruin those who simply disagree with them. We have filed this lawsuit to put a stop to state officials’ illegal and indefensible harassment of New Hope, which only wishes to continue serving New York families as it has for more than 50 years.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.