A Christian K-8 school last year declared that "we stand with the LGBTQIA+ community and believe in their holiness" — but now Urban Christian Academy in Kansas City is closing after donors pulled the plug, ABC News reported.
What are the details?
The private school with an enrollment of 100 describes itself as providing "a tuition-free, high-quality, Christ-centered education for low-income students," the news network said.
But last year it added a statement to its website that read in part, "We are an affirming school. We stand with the LGBTQIA+ community and believe in their holiness. We celebrate the diversity of God's creation in all its varied and beautiful forms," ABC News said.
With that, donors stopped contributing — with many citing their Christian beliefs as the reason — and UCA announced that it's closing at the end of the school year due to the loss of financial support, the news network said.
Kalie Callaway-George, the school's executive director and co-founder, told ABC News the aforementioned LGBTQIA+ language "is kind of what started the backlash from our donor base, which we anticipated. It was just that we anticipated a 50% loss in funding and made adjustments for that. We had an 80% loss in funding, and that was too much to overcome."
The news network said the donations disappeared quickly, with eight churches withdrawing — and while the churches themselves represented just 2% of the school’s funding, church members gave much more.
"We lost our network" of donors, Callaway-George added to ABC News: "In December of 2021, right before we publicly supported the LGBTQ community, we raised $333,985. One year later, after we had posted on our website and made a stance, [in] December of 2022 we raised $14,809."
What did former donors have to say?
The school didn't disclose the names of churches or individuals who pulled financial support, but the news network said the school shared messages it received from them.
"Our greatest concern about the accepting and affirming stance is that it denies the biblical definitions of sin and identity and thereby renders the grace of God meaningless," one church told the school, according to ABC News.
Other former donors were "far more blunt," the news network said.
"Do not call yourself a Christian school if you are affirming sin," one noted, according to ABC News. "Jesus died to set us free from sin, not so we can die in it. You abuse kids by telling them sin is good. You are wicked."
The news network quoted another who said, "By teaching them tolerance & acceptance and even to celebrate the gay lifestyle, you are setting them on a course to embrace the world and anti-God philosophy."
Others disagreed, however.
Jamie Visser's five children attend UCA, and she told ABC News the school closure "feels like an injustice to me."
"I am LGBTQ-affirming, and I identify as Christian," Visser added to the news network, noting that "a discrepancy in biblical interpretation" has resulted in kids losing out: "It's unfortunate that children who have nothing to do with the argument are the ones that are going to suffer because of it."
How are others reacting?
The ABC News story on the school closing was published in Yahoo News and attracted over 2,200 comments and counting as of Thursday morning:
- "I am pretty sure if your donors have a specific belief, and you decide to go against those beliefs, then you won't have those donors anymore," one commenter wrote. "That's kind of common sense. What's the new saying about Freedom of Speech .... You are free to say what you want but not free from the repercussions."
- "Perhaps if this school had prioritized educating kids instead of indulging themselves with a publicized foray into the culture wars, they would have survived," another commenter said. "Their fit of self-indulgence will cost a lot of kids their chance to be educated."
- "Why are people condemning those who stopped supporting the school? Don't they have a right to spend their money the way they want to? Why doesn't the LGBTQ community help support the school?" another commenter wondered.
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