A private Christian school in Missouri has learned the hard way that alienating donors with divisive ideological posturing can lead to bad outcomes.
The Urban Christian Academy in Kansas City is closing its doors at the end of the school year after losing 80 percent of its funding due to its adoption of “LGBTQIA+ affirming” messaging. The acronym LGBTQIA stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual/aromantic/agender.”
UCA is a private K-8 Christian school with an enrollment of 100 students providing “a tuition-free” “rigorous and equitable education” according to its website.
The school’s troubles began early last year after it amended its long mission statement to include a paragraph 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.”
The main page of the Christian school’s website now proclaims: “We are a proudly affirming school,” with the word “affirming” spelled out in rainbow colors.
Critics argue that LGBTQ+ and “gender affirming” ideology leads to moral confusion and does nothing to provide a basic education for children or help them move up the economic ladder.
Donations began to drop off immediately, with eight churches withdrawing their support over the ensuing months, the school told ABC News.
Kalie Callaway-George, UCA’s executive director and co-founder, said the school had expected a backlash over the “LGBTQIA+ affirming” language, but not a total collapse of financial support.
“It was just that we anticipated a 50 percent loss in funding and made adjustments for that,” she said. “We had an 80 percent loss in funding and that was too much to overcome.”
UCA was financially crushed after most members of the eight churches stopped donating.
“We lost our network” of donors, Callaway-George told 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.”
The school shared with ABC News messages from several churches and individuals who ended their financial assistance.
A letter from one church reportedly characterized the LGBQIA+ community as a “diverse collection of behaviors, and explained: “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.”
A message from one individual read: “Do not call yourself a Christian school if you are affirming sin. 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.”
Another declared: “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.”
Even though the school’s embrace of LGBTQ ideology resulted in its demise, Callaway-George still reportedly maintains “it was the right thing to do and has no regrets.”
“The essence of the Christian faith is promoting and offering love,” she said.
Rob Philips of the Missouri Baptist Convention, a network of 1,800 churches in the state, had a different view, telling ABC News: “to embrace desires and behaviors that are outside of scripture is not ultimately loving and caring.”