Kentucky Baptist Charity Votes Against Hiring LGBT Individuals

A Kentucky-based Baptist charity that has dealt with legal troubles over its firing of an openly homosexual employee has voted to maintain its employment standards.

Sunrise Children's Service, formerly called Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children, voted down a proposal on Friday that was supported by their president to allow hiring of openly gay individuals.

Joyce Smith, chairwoman of Sunrise's Board of Trustees, said in an emailed statement that the decision was done for the benefit of the exploited children the charity serves.

"With this decision, we are not promoting anything other than the physical, mental and spiritual welfare of our children," said Smith.

"We remain focused on our mission of providing love and support to our victimized children that Sunrise serves."

For years, Sunrise has been the focus of legal issues surrounding their decision to fire an employee who was found to be in a same-sex relationship.

A noted point of contention regards the estimated $26 million Sunrise receives annually from the Kentucky government in contracts for their work.

Late last month, Sunrise President Bill Smithwick announced his support for changing the policies at the charity regarding openly gay employees.

Brandi Felser, chief operating officer at Sunrise, provided The Christian Post with a copy of President Smithwick's statement.

"The issue before the Sunrise Children's Services Board has not been and is not about homosexuality. The core question is not about separation of church and state or government money," said Smithwick.

"The question is whether we will walk away from the pain, suffering, loneliness, and brokenness of the kids we serve and have served since 1869. Sunrise was started to care for children. That has always been our mission."

While the announcement brought hopeful praise from various pro-LGBT groups, it received condemnation from the Kentucky Baptist Convention, which gives Sunrise about $1 million annually and approves the members of Sunrise's trustee board.

In response to the recent vote, Convention Executive Director Paul Chitwood commended the board for sticking to the original policy, according to the Courier-Journal.

"I applaud the courage and conviction that has been exhibited by the board today and am thankful that the board continues to walk in line with Kentucky Baptists on this issue," said Chitwood.

"To have changed the current policy would have placed Sunrise Children's Services outside the parameters of biblical teaching and of Baptist beliefs."

Neither Sunrise Children's Services nor the Kentucky Baptist Convention returned comment to The Christian Post by press time. 

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