KY Baptists: We’ll Help Kids if No Gay People Are Around

A private child care agency in Kentucky finds itself with serious budget problems because Baptist churches that usually donate lots of money to the agency stopped doing that because someone proposed that the agency should stop discriminating against gay people in their hiring.

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…

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.

The Bible says you can’t hire gay people? I must have missed that verse. The motto of the Kentucky Baptist Convention should be “We care about kids, but not as much as we care about hating and discriminating against gay people. So if there are gay people around, to hell with kids.”

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  • chriswalker

    …Am I alone in thinking a $27 million budget for taking care of 600 kids sounds a bit high? I mean, I know there’s overhead like building maintenance and such, but that still works out to $45,000/kid for the year.

  • cswella

    Seriously, how disconnected from the reality of these kids are these baptists? Go ahead and protest gay people being involved somehow, write letters, appeal to the board, etc. But to pull money out of a system that directly cares for children? That is beyond ‘moral’ indignation. That is cruelty.

    But then again, these are the people who will abandon their own gay children, so I suppose it is really easier to do it to a group of kids you’ll never meet.

  • eric

    What an awful situation for the kids. Merely suggest the agency do the right thing, and it loses $7.5 million in child care funding. Continue to do the wrong thing, and potentially lose an estimated $23 million in child care in the future.

    Best hope is that they can find other (nonbigoted) donors to make up the difference. Still, the math would seem to make this a no-brainer in terms of long-term strategy. Given that the USG is pitching in five times as much as the baptists, you comply with USG nondiscrimination requests and operate on 85% current funding rather than flout them and operate on 15%.

    @1 – overhead approximately double’s ones full time salary. So one adult full time caseworker per four kids, earning $50k/year, would eat up $15 million. Then you have to pay for room and board for the 600 kids themselves. Your outreach efforts. Your executives (which probably earn a lot more than $50k/year). Yeah, I can see it. I’m not saying those costs must be legit, but I can certainly see how they could be.

  • Modusoperandi

    Mark 4:41-42: “Give to the orphans. Unless they think about maybe talking about hiring homos, then fuck ’em.”

  • frankb

    #4 Modus, you nut!! Your comments make a great start to the day. Thanks

  • Red-Green in Blue


    I see what you mean, but having recently learned a lot about at-risk or “looked-after” children (a UK term) through the eyes of an adoptive parent, this sort of cost doesn’t surprise me at all. Foster carers get paid allowances for their work and can claim additional expenses for necessary expenditures. Social workers, educators and therapists working with adopted and fostered children, as well as with children in struggling or dysfunctional birth families, all need their salaries – and such children, especially older ones can come with pretty messed-up heads and need a lot of help making sense of their world.

    (I don’t mean to imply that you don’t already realise this, and apologise if I’ve given that impression. I’m just making sure my point is clear.)

    There is also an awful lot of admin work going on behind the scenes: care planning, ensuring compliance with the law, preparing for and attending court hearings, co-ordination with health services and schools, assessing potential fosterers and adopters (like me!) for the life-changing experience of taking neglected or abused children into your home, etc., etc. I really didn’t appreciate until we started down the adoption path quite how many steps there are from first contact with child protection services to either signing off birth parents as having turned their lives around, or getting the courts to approve permanent placement with another family.

  • Synfandel

    As a non-American, I’ll ask the obligatory naïve outsider question. Don’t you people have laws against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation? Sunrise Children’s Services is openly stating that it discriminates against LGBT potential employees. Where I live, that would be a slam-dunk case against the child care company.

  • lordshipmayhem

    I was just looking at that headline, “KY Baptists”… is that the kind of lube they use to stick their heads up their asses?

  • Red-Green in Blue

    @frankb (#5):

    #4 Modus, you nut!! Your comments make a great start to the day. Thanks

    Yes, and he does it so convincingly that I’m already opening my Bible to find the quoted verse before I think, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice in one day – oh it’s that smartarse Modus winning the thread again.”

  • Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy


    This is one of the downsides of federalism. Some of us have laws against discriminating based on sexual orientation, but they’re at the state or local level. (For example, San Francisco had such a law before California as a whole did.)

    (It can also be one of the upsides of federalism: a Massachusetts court found a right to same-sex marriage in the state constitution, for example. Washington has a higher minimum wage than other states.)

  • chriswalker

    @3 & 6 – I was barely awake when I read this and misunderstood it as “child care” as in “day care”, for which 27 million and 600 kids seems weird. For long term child care, group homes and such, that seems more than reasonable.

  • democommie

    I’ll help kids if there are no babbletists around, and YES, I do know what they LOOK like.

  • WMDKitty — Survivor

    @Red-Green In Blue

    Thank you for adopting.

  • Red-Green in Blue

    @chriswalker (#11):

    Ah, no worries. Typing coherently that early in the morning is more than I can do :-)

    @WMDKitty (#13):

    You’re welcome! Our children have only just been placed with us, so I hope we still deserve your thanks a few years down the road, but we will do our best to raise them to be happy freethinkers!