A Progressive Theo-Political Blog Bringing You The Best and Worst of Baptist Life.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Baptist Prof in Ch-St Lawsuit Against KY Baptist Homes

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union haved filed a lawsuit on behalf of a group of Kentucky taxpayers against Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children. The lawsuit, Pedreira v. Kentucky Baptist Homes For Children Inc., asserts that (from AU press release) "Kentucky Baptist Homes has no right to accept public funding while imposing religious dogma on the children in its programs, and that the Homes' religion-based anti-gay employment policy violates civil rights laws. One of the plaintiffs to this lawsuit is Dr. Paul Simmons - a former professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

From the lawsuit:
Baptist Homes is funded primarily by state and federal tax money. The Commonwealth of Kentucky sends juvenile offenders and other vulnerable youths in state custody to Baptist Homes. Baptist Homes then indoctrinates the children in its religious beliefs by, among other things, pressuring the children to attend Baptist church services, forcing them to say prayers before meals, enrolling them in bible studies, and requiring its employees to act consistently with its religious beliefs...Among the "core" religious values that Baptist Homes inculcates in the youth in its care is a belief that "the homosexual lifestyle is [not] one God intends for the human race."
According to the lawsuit, Baptist Homes in 1998 fired their "exceptional" "valuable" and "very honest and hard working" social worker, Alicia Pedreira, upon learning that Pedreira is a lesbian. The plaintiffs allege that the state's provision of government funding to Baptist Homes violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment for several reasons, including that Baptist Homes was a thoroughly religious institution, that the funding supported religious indoctrination of the youth in Baptist Homes' care, and that the funding was being used to finance staff positions that were filled based on religious criteria. Pedreira, the former employee, alleges that Baptist Homes discriminated against her based on religion in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act by requiring its employees to conform their sexual orientation to Baptist Homes' religious beliefs.

The lawsuit provides numerous examples of public financed religion. On the one hand, Kentucky Based Homes took from Uncle Sam's cookie jar. And on the other hand, they forced the children to attend "mandatory" Baptist church services while consequently denying non-Baptist children the opportunity to attend other religious services. Some children of non-Baptist backgrounds felt that were being "pressured" into "giving up [their] religion." Read more here.

Tomorrow's post will feature a brief survey of where Baptist organizations have historically stood on such issues as government funding of human service activities of pervasively sectarian religious organizations (i.e. Kentucky Baptist Homes). I'll briefly mention the Baptist Joint Committee, the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and Buckner International.

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Anonymous Jeremy said...

Wow...when I was in college, I was on a mission team that performed drama at churches around the state. We performed once at a KBHC. I appreciate what they are doing, but didn't know that they were accepting tax dollars. If only I had known!

7:52 AM


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