July 9, 2009

UC officials mum about turning choir away

By Adam Sulfridge, Staff Writer

After uninviting a Texas church's chapel choir from participating in University of the Cumberlands' Mountain Outreach program, UC officials are keeping mum on their reasoning.

Broadway Baptist Church's pastor, Brent Beasley, said UC officials told him that Broadway’s tolerant stance toward homosexuality was the reason its chapel choir could no longer stay in UC's dorms or help build and repair homes for local disadvantaged families this month.

Social groups which advocate equal rights are condemning UC's recent decision much the same way they condemned the school for forcing former student Jason Johnson to withdraw after Johnson admitted he was gay on his MySpace profile in 2006.

Jordan Palmer, President of the Kentucky Equality Federation, said, "I applaud the Broadway Baptist Church for realizing that you cannot discriminate against your fellow man or woman and disguise the hatred as 'indifference of religious views.'"

Palmer also noted, "I believe that people are free to choose and practice their own religious and spiritual beliefs in whatever way they choose so long as they do not receive government funding or benefits of any kind."

Earlier this year, U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers presented Cumberlands with a $1.2 million check to help build a wellness facility and finish construction of a science building at the university. Previously, UC was denied $10 million in state funding to build a pharmacy school. In 2008, a circuit judge sided with the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, ruling that a private institution which discriminates in its admission and expulsion procedures cannot receive public funding. An appeal is currently pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Jody Cofer, a KFA board member, sympathized with Broadway Baptist and said, "By withdrawing the Texas group's invitation, University of the Cumberlands has reiterated what many fair-minded Kentuckians already know about that institution."

KFA has yet to determine if it will also challenge the $1.2 million federal appropriation.

Rogers' office released a statement clarifying the Congressman's decision to secure funding for the university: "It has been my long-standing mission to promote projects that enhance the educational opportunities for everyone in the 5th Congressional District, regardless of where they choose to attend college. I have enthusiastically supported many initiatives over the years from both public and private institutions, and I see no reason to distinguish one university over another. They all play a vital role in the betterment of our region."

Roger's Communication Coordinator explained that whereas specific portions of Kentucky law may prevent UC from receiving state funds for its pharmacy school, the Congressman’s office was unaware of federal provisions which may prevent the private university from receiving federal funding.

TheTimesTribune.com

July 8, 2009

KEF Condemns Funding To University

kypost.com -- Kentucky Equality Federation today condemned the allocation of $1.2 million dollars in federal funding to the University of the Cumberlands.

The funds will be used to help construct a health and wellness center for students, faculty and community members and a new science and technology building for the university. U.S. Representative Hal Rogers (R) requested a total of 4 million dollars for projects at the University of the Cumberlands.

"Kentucky Equality Federation remains opposed to the allocation of any public funds to an institution that discriminates against a minority group," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "If all the citizens of the Commonwealth cannot enjoy the new facilities this money will bring, it must be challenged. Separation of Church and State must be maintained; funding a facility which will reject gay and lesbian people is unacceptable."

Palmer concluded, "Kentucky Equality Federation will weigh all available options with its legal counsel and urge the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky to do the same."

Halyn Roth, Kentucky Equality Federation's Regional Director for Southern Kentucky added, "The University of the Cumberlands is an institution of learning and is meant to inspire young minds to become the leaders of tomorrow, but with the backwards policies of the University leaders, they are indeed causing the downfall of progress as we know it."

In 2007 Kentucky Equality Federation co-sponsored the 2007 Soulforce/Equality Ride at the University of the Cumberlands. Dozens of gay and lesbian activists were arrested and community members held signs reading "You Will Be Judged," and "Repent Now," among others. Nick Herweck, now Kentucky Equality Federation's Treasurer spent most of the day directing representatives from Soulforce to the Whitley County Jail to post bond for those arrested.

Kentucky Post
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