Ala. law will finally protect children


The Freedom From Religion Foundation applauds Alabama lawmakers for closing a loophole that has allowed religious child care centers to escape state oversight.

The Legislature has passed House Bill 76, which will correct a dangerous Alabama law that has permitted “faith-based” day care centers to escape any state oversight. HB 76, when signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, will put a stop to unchecked child abuse and neglect in religious child care centers across the state.

FFRF supported this bill during the previous legislative session, but it failed to pass due in large part to vocal opposition by conservative religious groups. FFRF renewed its efforts this year and is delighted that the Alabama Senate reversed course and passed this sensible bill to protect the state’s most vulnerable residents.

Currently, faith-based child care centers in Alabama do not have to comply with the basic standards that secular centers must follow. This senseless free pass for religious centers has produced a trend of systematic child abuse and neglect. Often, when regulators have identified severe problems at secular centers and shut them down, those dangerous centers have rebranded themselves as faith-based child care centers “just days after” being shut down, according to Reveal News. This loophole has allowed them to continue their old ways without any oversight.

In one twisted case, a woman operated at least a dozen Christian day care centers across Southern Alabama, despite regular complaints of abuse and neglect, as well as arrests for child endangerment and failing to pay employees. But the state has been unable to stop her, or other individuals, from setting up regulation-free centers in the same way.

Conservative Christian groups have argued in the past that this bill “removes religious liberty protections.” But religious liberty does not create a right to abuse or neglect children. When Alabama parents send their children to a day care center, they should be confident that the center will meet at least basic health and safety standards, regardless of who runs the center.

The state’s duty to protect its young citizens should not be subject to a recklessly mindless religious exception. FFRF celebrates this victory for Alabama’s children and hopes that Gov. Ivey will promptly sign this important bill into law.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a nationwide nonprofit organization with more than 32,000 members across the country, including hundreds in Alabama. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Photo Source: Aleksander Krsmanovic / Shutterstock

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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