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Good Mothers Serve Pork?

May 7, 2010

Design by Michal Zacharzewski

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. It’s an annual reminder to thank our moms and the mothers of our children, to support parents, and to think about what makes a good parent: patience, love, the willingness to serve bacon …

Bacon? Well, the blogosphere—from ParentDish, to the law blog The Volokh Conspiracy, to Georgia Liberal and The Huffington Postis bubbling with the debate over whether a strong faith with strict dietary restrictions is a fair reason to deny a license to be a foster parent. 

The Baltimore Sun reports that a Muslim woman’s application to be a foster mother has been denied because of statements she made during a home visit, “specifically your explicit request to prohibit pork products within your home environment.” (Daily Kos reprints the entire rejection letter.)

Tashima Crudup, 26, believes she was turned down unfairly because of her Muslim faith, which was the focus of many of the questions in the interview. She and her husband, Andre Moore, 39, have five children of their own, and Tashima, a former foster child, herself, has completed 50 hours of training in the care of foster children. The Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a complaint on their behalf with the Baltimore City Community Relations Commission.

WJZ News of Baltimore spoke with Corey Pierce, the CEO of Contemporary Family Services, the private foster agency that made the decision. He said, “She was very obstinate and very unyielding when it came to her position about pork. We require a high level of flexibility with our foster parents. The issue is with the inflexibility, not the pork.”

But ACLU attorney Ajmel Quereshi responds, “I have a hard time believing CFS denies every vegetarian or Orthodox Jewish person a foster care license.”

Nancy Lineman, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Human Resources points out that the state of does not require foster families to be willing to serve all kinds of food. The department has notified Contemporary Family Services that turning down a foster parent because of religious beliefs violates state laws.

What is your response? Should food restrictions be grounds for denying a foster parenting license? Does a strong religious faith make one too inflexible to parent a troubled child? Or is this thinly-veiled discrimination against Muslims?

Join the conversation here, and come to the 2010 NASABA Convention to make a difference for civil rights.

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