The Kentucky Baptist Convention has severed ties with more than a dozen churches that supported a religious organization that removed its ban on hiring LGBTQ employees, the Courier-Journal reported.
The KBC voted on Tuesday at its annual meeting in Pikeville to end its alliance with KBC-affiliated churches that have contributed financially to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Homosexuality is considered sinful to the KBC. It opposes same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay ministers.
What was the reaction?
St. Matthews Baptist, a 1,600-member church in Louisville, was among the churches targeted marking an end to its 90-year relationship with KBC.
"The Kentucky Baptist Convention had an opportunity to demonstrate to a divided nation that we do not have to agree on everything in order to love each other and partner together in carrying out the mission Jesus called us to. Unfortunately, the Convention chose a different course," St. Matthews Baptist senior pastor Greg Barr said in a statement. "Our church believes that unity and difference of opinion can co-exist in the service of our Lord."
Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, called the decision "heartless." Fairness Campaign is an LGBTQ rights group.
"This heartless move by the Kentucky Baptist Convention deepens its demeaning and discriminatory stance toward LGBTQ people," Hartman said, according to the report. "What harm does hiring a gay janitor or transgender cafeteria worker do to ministry? None. Which is why the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has moved to affirm that someone’s LGBTQ identity doesn’t prevent them doing a non-ministerial job."
Hartman went on to say that he believes the move may push some away from the church.
"If the KBC continues to deny the basic humanity and dignity of LGBTQ people, they’ll see congregants begin to move away from them, as virtually all people — including Baptists — now have LGBTQ family and friends whom they love and support," he said.
What did KBC say?
Paul Chitwood, executive director of KBC, told the newspaper that the organization could not support groups or adopt policies that go against the faith's belief that homosexuality is a sin.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship lifted its ban on hiring gay employees earlier this year. However, it retained the ban for ministry leaders and missionaries.