Sunset for Sunrise?
Kentucky governor’s LBGTQ agenda threatens faith-based foster agency
Sunrise Children’s Services, a Kentucky Baptist Convention nonprofit ministry, has served foster children and families in the state for 162 years. Since the 1970s, Sunrise has partnered with Kentucky, but that agreement might end this year if the organization’s religious convictions conflict with the state’s agenda.
The agency’s contract with the state runs out at the end of June. During a regular news briefing with Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday, a reporter asked why the state hadn’t signed a new contract with Sunrise. Beshear said the state offered a contract with a nondiscrimination clause that he said was required. The governor referenced Kentucky’s recent settlement with a woman who sued the state claiming Sunrise discriminated against her for being a lesbian. The settlement allows the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State to monitor contracts that include the state’s Cabinet of Family and Health Services. “My understanding is that Sunrise has been offered a contract, but unless a portion of a nondiscrimination clause is crossed through … that they won’t sign the contract,” Beshear said.
Sunrise attorney John Sheller told Kentucky Today that the state had twice before struck the nondiscrimination clause that would require the agency to place children with same-sex couples: “It is an illegitimate excuse … because they want to choose to exclude Sunrise, not because they have to.”
The question put Beshear at odds with members of the legislature. On Wednesday, the Kentucky House and Senate Majority Caucuses asked him to reconsider his position, pointing to a state law that bars discrimination against a provider because of religious convictions.
Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Gray asked supporters to pray for Beshear and speak up for Sunrise so it could enter into the contract while maintaining its religious convictions.
According to Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a WORLD board member, the dispute stems from the governor’s attempt to implement the LGBTQ agenda—even at the cost of children.
“They’ve been presented with a choice, either surrender your religious convictions and simply accept the state’s new definition of marriage or the state will not partner with you in care for neglected and abused children from troubled homes,” Mohler said on his podcast, The Briefing.
Before leaving office in January, the Trump administration issued a final rule allowing faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to receive federal funding while following Biblical beliefs on same-sex marriage. But on Feb. 10, the Biden administration agreed to a court order halting implementation of the rule for six months. In the meantime, an Obama-era rule is in effect that requires agencies to place with same-sex couples.
Resolution for Sunrise might have to wait until the Supreme Court hands down a decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which is expected before the court recesses in June. In that case, Catholic Social Services challenged Philadelphia for refusing to work with the agency due to its beliefs about marriage and sexuality.
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