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Kentucky Baptist-affiliated child care agency lost donations during gay hiring policy dispute

Uncertainty over a short-lived proposal to open employment to gays at Kentucky's largest private child care agency prompted many supportive churches to withhold giving last year, creating a multi-million dollar shortfall.

Sunrise Children's Services depends on giving from Kentucky's Baptist congregations — and government funding. But Kentucky Baptist Convention executive director Paul Chitwood says offerings dried up last year amid donor concerns the proposal to allow gay workers might succeed.

The Sunrise board ultimately rejected the proposal, unwilling to begin hiring gays at Sunrise just to ensure future government contracts. Supporters now hope a fundraising drive will cover $5 million of the roughly $7.5 million shortfall.

Meanwhile, experts note religiously-affiliated groups operating with government funding could be increasingly held to new standards as gay right protections advance in several states.

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