The trouble started last year, when Sunrise's then-president and CEO, Bill Smithwick, suggested that the group end its ban on hiring gay people.
reasoned that, with LGBT nondiscrimination legislation on the horizon, Sunrise's anti-gay policies could cause the charity to lose its taxpayer funding, which accounts for about 85 percent of its operating budget.
Kentucky's Baptist community, however, wasn't so enthusiastic.
As soon as Smithwick
introduced the proposal, the Kentucky Baptist Convention
encouraged its affiliates to blacklist Sunrise until it abandoned its proposed nondiscrimination policy.
Church donors across the state immediately began withholding their usual contributions, refusing to donate a penny to an organization that might hire openly gay people.
Smithwick's fall from grace was swift and brutal.
The Sunrise board quickly voted down his
proposal, and soon after, the Kentucky Baptist Convention
as a whole passed a vote of no-confidence in Smithwick
This vote-really a public shaming-essentially forced Smithwick
Only after his
resignation did the convention agree to allow its affiliate churches to donate to the children's charity once again.
But that period on the Baptist blacklist may have damaged Sunrise's budget beyond repair.
There is, of course, so much here to be disgusted by.
But it's worth starting with the convention's repulsive attacks on Smithwick's reputation.
led Sunrise for nearly 17 years, vastly expanding its size and outreach.
During his tenure, Smithwick was a leader in the fight against child abuse: He served on the board of the Virginia Association of Children's Homes, the National Association of Christian Child and Family Services, the Children's Alliance of Kentucky, Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, and Kentucky Youth Advocates.
Before coming to Sunrise, Smithwick worked at Virginia Baptist Children's Home & Family Services, which served abused and neglected children.
life to helping kids in need.
And now-because he
floated a practical measure designed to forestall future budget problems-Smithwick has been expelled from the field and ostracized by his
Aside from Smithwick
, no one will understand that message better than the 2,000 children who rely upon Sunrise every year to protect them from dire poverty or abusive parents.
Thanks to the convention's actions against Sunrise, those children's wellbeing is now imperiled by a grave (and entirely manufactured) budget shortfall.