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VT State Foster Agency Rejects Christian Couples Over Biblical Beliefs

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Two Vermont Christian couples have filed a lawsuit against the state's Department for Children and Families (DCF) after the agency allegedly revoked their foster licenses for adhering to their Biblical beliefs and refusing to embrace transgender ideology.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit legal group, is representing Brian and Kaitlyn Wuoti and Michael and Rebecca Gantt who have claimed the Vermont DCF mandated "its ideological position at the expense of children."

"Vermont's foster-care system is in crisis: There aren't enough families to care for vulnerable kids, and children born with drug dependencies have nowhere to call home. Yet Vermont is putting its ideological agenda ahead of the needs of these suffering kids," said ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse. 

Dr. John DeGarmo, a leading foster care expert and director of The Foster Care Institute, there are roughly 450,000 children in foster care in the United States and this faith-based litmus test is only keeping children out of stable homes. 

"There are more children in crisis, yet there is a shortage of foster parents and foster care homes. Our states and government can not handle or address this issue on its own," he explained. "Many foster parents state that their faith plays an important part in their foster parenting. If faith based organizations and people of faith are discouraged to help children in the foster care system, then we will lose a great percentage of foster parents and support services."

Michael Bryan Gantt is the lead pastor of Agape Christian Fellowship in Battleboro, VT. He and his wife, Rebecca, have adopted three infants from the state in addition to their four biological children. 

"The Bible talks about that God is our heavenly father who has adopted us into his family, and so we wanted to reflect that in our own lives," Gantt said.

Last September, the child-welfare agency reached out to the couple asking them if they would be interested in adopting a boy who was going to be born to a homeless drug addict. 

"The whole department agrees you're the perfect home and first choice," the Gantts were told by their resource coordinator, according to National Review.

However, before they could accept the child into the home the agency let them know that they must accept the state's view 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."

Meanwhile, Brian Wuoti, lead pastor of Valley Town Church in Wilmington, VT, and his wife, Katy, who had become licensed with the Vermont DCF in 2015 and adopted two children through the agency, received a "Notice of Decision" in April 2022 recommending that their license be terminated. 

The couple said they could not agree with the department's policy demanding that parents "support children's identities even if it feels uncomfortable."

"In essence, the policy requires foster parents to agree to lie to children and tell them that they can change their sex," the ADF explained in a statement. 

The ADF said in the lawsuit that DCF's policy not only hinders a child's chance of finding a forever home but also violates foster parents' First Amendment rights. 

"By categorically excluding the Wuotis and the Gantts from child welfare services because of their religious beliefs, the Mandate invidiously discriminates based on religion and treats the Wuotis and the Gantts worse than similarly situated persons who do not share their religious beliefs," states the lawsuit.

The Wuoti and Gantt families are asking a federal court to decide whether the state's policy and its enforcement is unconstitutional and request that it be revoked so that it does not hinder children from being placed with foster parents who don't agree with the policy. 

Actress and foster care advocate Jen Lilley told CBN News in a statement Vermont's Department for Children and Family Services' decision to revoke the Wuoti's and Gantt's licenses is a wake-up call for the entire nation.

"This action not only violates our Constitutional rights but also jeopardizes the well-being of children in dire need of safe, loving homes," she shared. "The government is deciding that it's safer for a child to remain in a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation than to live in a home with Christian beliefs? Make it make sense."

Lilley added, "There should be room for every safe home at the table. If we allow Christians to be stripped of their ability to foster and adopt, who's next? The Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Mormon or atheist homes? This can happen to people of any faith background if we allow it. Homes that can provide safety and stability should be open to fostering children, without fear of discrimination based on religious beliefs. We cannot allow fear to push common sense aside, leaving children in harmful situations."
Vermont's DCF has publicly stated that while they cannot comment on pending litigation, they do take "the care and support of youth in our custody seriously, and we work to ensure that youth in foster care are placed in homes that support all aspects of what makes them who they are"...."includ(ing) their sexual orientation and gender identity."
According to WCAX-TV, there are currently about 958 children in foster homes in Vermont.

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.