Baptist children's home could welcome gay hires

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Baptist agency that is Kentucky's largest private provider of services for abused children is considering opening its doors to gay employees, which would put it at odds with the churches that lend financial support.

Sunrise Children's Services President Bill Smithwick says the proposal is tied to the agency's securing of state and federal funding. Sunrise receives about $1 million annually from Baptist churches, but most of its $27 million budget is met with state and federal money.

The agency settled a decade-long lawsuit last year brought by a former lesbian employee who claimed religious discrimination.

Kentucky Baptist Convention President Paul Chitwood says he was shocked by the proposal and says Sunrise could lose the church's support if it allows gay hires.

Sunrise operates eight residential centers around the state.

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