LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Two Kentucky Baptist leaders are hoping the signatures of hundreds of pastors and church members will impact the Beshear administration on behalf of Sunrise Children’s Services.
“We are asking Gov. Beshear to make room for Sunrise. With a state that is leading the nation in child abuse cases, we do not need fewer ministries like Sunrise – we need more of them,” said Todd Gray, Kentucky Baptist Convention executive director-treasurer.
Sunrise is a full-service agency of the Kentucky Baptist Convention offering foster care and adoption services and therapeutic and residential treatment. They are currently caring for more than 900 children in state care.
“As Kentucky Baptists, we are unapologetically pro-life, which includes not only the unborn, but all who are made in the image of God. Sunrise provides our churches a tangible way to love and support those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in a vulnerable situation,” said Wes Fowler, KBC president.
The agency is asking the Beshear administration for an addendum to its contract to protect its deeply held religious convictions.
The KBC recently asked churches to sign a petition urging Gov. Beshear to “re-instate the addendum that previous administrations, both democrat and republican, have given.”
The petition, posted below, was signed by representatives from 512 churches. It contains more than 800 signatures.
Gray hopes the governor will heed the voices of the thousands of Kentuckians represented by the signatures. “I am praying he will return to the negotiating table and find a way to accommodate Sunrise’s deeply held Christian convictions,” Gray said.
Fowler adds, “Kentucky Baptists want and deserve an equal seat at the table. We want to be able to live out our deeply held beliefs and care for the most vulnerable in our commonwealth. We shouldn’t have to compromise our beliefs in order to care for those in need.”
Gray says the ministry of Sunrise is vital to Kentucky Baptists because it helps them carry out the instruction of James 1:27 “to visit the fatherless.” "Kentucky Baptists serve children in multiple ways, and this is an important way,” said Gray.
Sunrise has been given a deadline of June 30 to sign a new state contract.
Kentucky Today is a publication of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
The entire content of the letter:
Dear Governor Beshear,
We write to you as a group of concerned pastors and leaders from the Kentucky Baptist Convention, a denomination with 600,000 members and 2,360 churches across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. As God’s holy and inerrant Scripture commands of us, we write as grateful citizens of a Commonwealth who seek to show you the honor that Scripture commands of us (1 Peter 2:13-17) while also expressing our deep concern related to Sunrise Children's Services.
At present, the position your administration has taken in denying Sunrise the addendum necessary to honor its convictions and continue on its mission endangers the ability that Kentucky Baptists have long prided themselves in overseeing: the loving care and protection of vulnerable children. Not only is the well-being of Kentucky children compromised, so, too, is our religious liberty.
We believe the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed federally in 1993 and in Kentucky in 2013, mandates "the Government shall not substantially burden a person's freedom of religion." It is our strong conviction that this should compel the state to not only recognize but protect the religious liberty of Sunrise.
We are asking, respectfully, that you would direct your administration to cease and desist from its current opposition to Sunrise Children's Services. We are asking you to re-instate the addendum that previous administrations, both Democrat and Republican, have given.
We look forward to continued discussion and progress in serving Kentucky in the name of Jesus Christ.