Thank you for visiting paducahsun.com, the online home of The Paducah Sun.

June 2012
27 28 29 30 31 01 02

Click here to submit an event.

Gay hiring fears hurt Baptist agency fundraising

Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - Uncertainty over a short-lived proposal to open employment to gays at Kentucky's largest private child care agency prompted many of its supportive churches to withhold giving last year, causing a multi-million dollar shortfall.

Sunrise Children's Services depends on giving from Baptist congregations in Kentucky, along with government funding. But Kentucky Baptist Convention executive director Paul Chitwood said those offerings dried up last year because donors were concerned that the proposal to allow gay workers might succeed.

The Sunrise board ultimately rejected the proposal introduced by Bill Smithwick, then CEO of Sunrise. But the flap left the agency that cares daily for about 600 children with a funding shortfall of about $7.5 million.

"Most of our churches decided not to take the annual offering for Sunrise because they feared that Smithwick was going to lead Sunrise away from" the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Chitwood said. The state convention, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and has about 2,400 member churches in Kentucky, is conservative on social issues and opposes gay marriage.

Chitwood and church leaders are hoping congregations statewide will be able to raise about $5 million during a drive in May to make up for the funding gap.

"Now we're going back and asking them to make that up," he said.

Sunrise Children's Services, formerly known as Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children, has an annual $27 million budget and operates eight residential treatment centers around the state. The agency shelters abused and neglected children, and also offers psychiatric services. Its board is approved by the state Baptist convention and it has a covenant agreement that stipulates the agency "shall maintain its distinctive Baptist character."

Smithwick was in his 16th year at the helm of Sunrise when he floated the proposal to open employment to gays. He had said he feared the agency's ban would eventually lead to a loss of millions in government funding, meaning the agency would have to drastically scale back its budget, since most of its funding - Smithwick said 85 percent of about $27 million - comes from government sources.

The board ultimately rejected the proposal. But Sunrise board member Stan Spees said at the time that the proposal divided the board more than any issue raised during his six years at the agency. Smithwick resigned in December.

"I see clearly what (Smithwick) was thinking, however I would humbly disagree with him on that because it matters about the scriptures and it matters about the gospel," said Ron Shaw, pastor of Community Baptist Church in Somerset. Shaw spoke in favor of taking a no confidence in Smithwick's leadership vote at the state convention in November. It overwhelmingly passed.

But religious organizations operating with government funding or contracts could be held to new standards as gay rights protections advance through the courts and state legislatures, said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group.

Lynn said there are similar cases of religious objection to government mandates developing around the country, including a case headed to the U.S. Supreme Court later this month. In it, the retail chain Hobby Lobby argues that it shouldn't have to comply with the Affordable Care Act mandate that employers include insurance coverage for contraceptives. The chain's owner has said he opposes the policy for religious reasons.

Comments made about this article - 0 Total

Comment on this article

Your comment has been submitted for approval
captcha 02152156ed5046b6aa5c71d6235e1109
Top Classifieds
  • RUNNING, fixable, junk vehicles, equi ... Details
  • Cash for farms & gold (270)339-8 ... Details
  • ONLINE Real Estate Auction 435 ... Details
  • 52" Pioneer Projection TV $15 ... Details
  • Seasoned Firewood. 243-5815 Details
  • PILLOW TOPmattress sets NEW in plasti ... Details
  • Deutz-Fahr Cab Loader 4X4, Clean, 270 ... Details
  • BRK Colonial 4500SF 9 rm, 4br, 5 ba, ... Details
  • 2003 16X80 Clayton Mobile Home, 3 BR ... Details
  • FAIRHURST BLDG.295 sq. ft. office1900 ... Details
  • OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY 2-4126 Mimosa Paduc ... Details
  • Open House Sunday 1-3pm 5525 KY ... Details
  • SEEING is believing! Don't buy p ... Details
  • Sale by Owner65 Acres inLivingston Co ... Details
  • FHA, USDA, VA & Conventional Loan ... Details
  • 2005 HD HERITAGE DELUXE CLASSIC , Ne ... Details
  • 2000 YAMAHA 65 V-Star 34k $1800 ( ... Details
  • Harley Davidson 1994 Softtail Spring ... Details
  • 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe, $3,800.270-705 ... Details
  • 2001 Corvette Convertible, Heads Up D ... Details
  • 02 HD Softail Duece,82k,$6,500 (270) ... Details
  • SHARPE 2006 MONTE CARLO LT. Sunroof, ... Details
  • 1971 Honda Trail 70, call after 5pm 2 ... Details
This Week In Photos
Most Popular
  1. Warmer weather ahead for Paducah
  2. School employees challenge union fees
  3. Trump gives support to 2nd Amendment following shooting
  1. Coke pays to twist the truth
  2. Couple bringing passion to Smedley-Yeiser revival
  3. Driver hurt, charged in Fulton collision
  1. Couple bringing passion to Smedley-Yeiser revival
  2. Williams' widow, kids settle estate fight
  3. Warmer weather ahead for Paducah

Check out these recently discussed stories and voice your opinion...