Churches in Kentucky will stop at nothing to prove just how powerful their homophobia can be. This time, they’ve taken $7,000,000 away from a children’s services organization on the basis of a proposed pro-LGBT policy that never made it past the planning stages. The resulting budget shortage has left the organization scrambling — and the responsible churches sitting back and watching.
Bill Smithwick, former director of a Kentucky children’s home called Sunrise Children’s Services, proposed last year that the home end its policy barring openly LGBT people from being employed there. He was worried the anti-gay policy would lead to a slash in government funding, but his suggestion backfired.
Upon hearing about the proposal, local churches immediately stopped funding the children’s home, and their actions added up fast. Smithwick was forced to resign, the anti-gay policy was never actually revoked, and the organization is now facing a $7 million dollar shortage.
Now that Smithwick’s suggestion has been shot down, the Kentucky Baptist Convention has announced that it is once again “safe to donate” to Sunrise, which used to be Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children. They’ve launched a fundraising campaign to help make up the damage. But this is rapidly becoming a lose-lose situation for Sunrise, since they still risk losing their government funding if they don’t change their discriminatory hiring policy.
“Now that our churches have confidence in the leadership of Sunrise and the direction of Sunrise, we’ll give them the opportunity to re-invest in this ministry to children,” Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director Paul Chitwood told WDRB.
However, the policy of discrimination puts Sunrise at risk of losing government funding, which provides 85 percent of its $27 million budget.
“And we know that, at least for now, the state appreciates that, needs the ministry of Kentucky Baptists to these children, thrilled to have the relationship,” Chitwood observed. “And we’ll just see where it goes.”
What bothers me the most about this story is the churches’ deliberate nonchalance about the whole matter. First, they slashed a huge portion of the organization’s $27 million budget on a whim, simply to make a point about a policy that had not even been implemented. Now that they’ve made their point and proven their influence, they’re raising money for Sunrise as casually as if they were running a school bake sale. This is a gross example of small-town churches using their collective power to abuse worthwhile secular causes, then backtracking as if it had never happened and making a mockery of the entire thing.
By the way, these are the same conservative Christians who fight against LGBT issues like marriage equality on the basis of “traditional families” and “what about the children?!” And yet, what’s their stance when children’s livelihood and the tangible resources they need to survive are actually on the line?
“We’ll just see where it goes.”
(Thanks to Mike for the link)