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World Vision Reverses Its Decision on Married Gay Employees

Jim Burroway

March 26th, 2014

World Vision, the Christian charitable organization which earlier this week announced that they would employ persons in same-sex marriages according to the same fidelity expecations for those in opposite-sex marriages, have now reversed their decision following a backlash from contributors and supporters. In a letter sent to supporters this afternoon, World Vision says that they “made a mistake” and “humbly ask for your forgiveness.” The full letter to supporters follows:

Dear Friends,

today, the World Vision U.S. board publicly reversed its recent decision to change our national employment conduct policy. The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfullness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.

We are writing to you our trusted partners and Christian leaders who have come to us in the spirit of Matthew 18 to express your concern in love and conviction. You share our desire to come together in the Body of Christ around our mission to serve the poorest of the poor. We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness.

In our board’s effort to unite around the church’s shared mission to serve the poor in the name of Christ, we failed to be consistent with World Vision’s U.S.’s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith, which says, “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.” And we also failed to seek enough counsel from our own Christian partners. As a result, we made a change to our conduct policy that was not consistent with our Statement of Faith and our commitment to the sanctity of marriage.

We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority. We ask that you understand that thi was never the board’s intent. We are asking for your continued support. We commit to you that we will continue to listen to the wise counsel of Christian brothers and sisters, and we will reach out to key partners in the weeks ahead.

While World Vision U.S. stands firmly on the biblical view of marriage, we strongly affirm that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created by God and are to be loved and treated with dignity and respect.

Please know that World Vision continues to serve all people in our ministry around the world. We pray that you will continue to join with us in our mission to be “an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in workig with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice, and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.”

Sincerely in Christ

Richard Stearns, President

Jim Beré, Chairman of the World Vision U.S. Board

Comments

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Timothy Kincaid
March 26th, 2014 | LINK

Translation:

“Eff you, Episcopal Church! Hey Lutherans, you can bite it! And UCC members, who cares what you clowns think.

Oh, and for all you Methodists and Presbyterians who support inclusion of all God’s children, yeah well you aren’t True Christians anyway!

We’re sticking with the Baptists and the Pentecostals, because they are the only ones who are consistent with the infallible, authoritative Word of God.

Effing pretenders! Liberal wannabees!

God isn’t about loving your neighbor and feeding the sick or fighting poverty! He’s about being holier than the next guy.”

Timothy Kincaid
March 26th, 2014 | LINK

I left World Vision a little note to let them know what I thought of their reversal:

Although my Grandmother was a World Vision donor all her life, I had not contributed. But after this week’s decision to include all God’s Children, I decided to give. Fortunately I waited – because you turned around and said that the members of my United Methodist congregation do not submit to Biblical authority. So, after you flipped us all the middle finger, I’ll find other ways to honor Matthew 25. Have fun with the pharisees.

Sandhorse
March 26th, 2014 | LINK

It’s much easier to judge people not by the content of their character, but by who the bump uglies with in the bedroom.

Makes knowing who’s ‘in’ and who’s ‘out’ easier. And it makes the ‘in’ crowd breath so much easier cuz now thay know that even though they’re all sinners too, at least their not THAT bad.

Sandhorse
March 26th, 2014 | LINK

In other words, if they don’t have a group of ‘others’ they can point at as ‘baddies’. Then we’ll all look the same. And if we are all indistinguishable from each other, well, we might have to rely on faith and grace to see us through.

That’s too hard and too scary.

Soren456
March 26th, 2014 | LINK

Money makes the world go ’round.

CPT_Doom
March 26th, 2014 | LINK

“It’s much easier to judge people not by the content of their character, but by who the bump uglies with in the bedroom.”

I’m pretty sure that was Jesus’ golden rule, right? Just like the parable of the Good Samaritan is about promoting xenophobia.

Richard Rush
March 26th, 2014 | LINK

A press release I would expect from the self-identified True Christians:

We are pleased to report that World Vision reversed course after we educated them on how God prefers that hungry people starve to death rather than be fed by an organization that refuses to properly persecute homosexuals, especially those who pretend to be married.

L. C. Burgundy
March 26th, 2014 | LINK

1) Note the compare and contrast lesson with the earlier posting about the Episcopal bishops of Michigan. The Episcopal Church has stuck with their message of inclusion for many years (including when it was even vastly more unpopular) even though it has undoubtedly cost them members and money over the years. They realize that the best and most effective church may not necessarily be the most gilded with the fullest coffers.

2) It should be obvious to everyone that World Vision’s words are only as good as the next check they’re receiving. To make such a major change (and claim it was thought out so prayerfully!) and then reverse it not two days later shows them to be run by truly craven individuals.

3) This is not about homosexual activity or whether people are in gay marriages or not. This is 100% about appearances. The dishonest and the promiscuous can always take their action on the downlow and there are undoubtedly World Vision employees who do do just that. But, oh, you want to live an honest and committed life with the one you love? You get fired.

4) Oh, and a quick read of statements about their employment policies online indicates you’re allowed to be divorced and remarried at World Vision, despite the not-at-all ambiguous statements from Jesus condemning the immorality of that (as compared to his utter silence about homosexuality). But then again, Jesus did say you could only serve one master…

Ben in Oakland
March 26th, 2014 | LINK

I’ll be looking forward to the day when these people “humbly ask my forgiveness” for their trespasses. Meanwhile, I’m glad I made it a rule never to donate to Christian charities unless I know the church.

And L.c., do you have a link for the policy about divorce. I feel a rant coming on.

L. C. Burgundy
March 26th, 2014 | LINK

It’s in a lot of the reporting on the original change as a quote from Rich Stearns: (e.g., see here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-why-hiring-gay-christians-same-sex-marriage.html?paging=off )

“Denominations disagree on many, many things: on divorce and remarriage, modes of baptism, women in leadership roles in the church, beliefs on evolution, etc.,” he said. “So our practice has always been to defer to the authority and autonomy of local churches and denominational bodies on matters of doctrine that go beyond the Apostles’ Creed and our statement of faith. We unite around our [Trinitarian beliefs], and we have always deferred to the local church on these other matters.”

I don’t have access to a policy manual or anything but boy howdy it sure looks like divorce and remarriage is a-ok as far as World Vision as concerned.

Richard Rush
March 26th, 2014 | LINK

My husband and I learned a good lesson back in 2001 when the Salvation Army’s Western Territory went rogue by announcing they would offer spousal benefits to gay partners. My husband and I immediately sent S.A. a donation, and immediately after that, the rogue territory got smacked down by S.A. national headquarters. And then immediately after the smack-down we demanded our money back, which they gave us. We told them why.

Rob in San Diego
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

I could not understand that letter, it was written in some foreign language. So I ran it through my computer translation and this is what it said…

Dear bigots, we thought that we were following Christ in treating all humans equal, but when you threatened to cut off money, we realized our mistake because money is what we greed for.

Gus
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

Every time they do something this extreme Christianists turn off the younger Evangelicals. Civil marriage equality polls 50/50 with under 35 Evangelicals and will only increase as more of their gay/lesbian peers marry.

This is not a win for Mssrs Barber, Fischer and LaBarbera. And Mr Perkins’ daughter will go to a decent college and leave the nest thinking how judgmental her father was.

For the media who think these folks will continue to set America’s agenda, even the fastest growing Christian denomination in the US, the Southern Baptists, is not growing at a replacement rate and attendance is way down.

http://www.churchleaders.com/p

(PS This is the American religious/political roiling seascape Sen Rand Paul is trying to navigate…watch him pander to both sides in the Republican primaries with Libertarian Lite)

Randy Potts
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

It seems to me there was a missed opportunity here – why did World Vision make this decision so rashly? Why wasn’t there a Boy Scouts-style, lengthy discussion process with input from leaders, supporters, etc.? Obviously the decision maker feared exactly what ended up happening; seems to me he took the easy way and it really backfired.

John
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

I suspect that the real reason they changed their policy in the first place was that they could have access to federal donor programs and other “new” money. When they realized that they risked their “old” money, they changed their tune. It’s all about the money. I hope that they don’t get a dime of taxpayer money.

Nathaniel
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

Matthew 18… hmmm… so ” And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” So, he who throws the biggest tantrum is the one we should be deferring to? I’m not sure that’s what Jesus meant….

Oh… you are referring to the commandant about rebuking unrepentant believers, first privately, then quietly withing the Church. Only that can’t be, because you instead went through a loud, public shouting match that will ultimately do more harm to Christianity than it has done good.

And I am pretty sure you ignored the cautions against causing children and other faithful to stumble. If you were paying attention, you’d know the harm anti-gay rhetoric has done to our children. How many have to die before we begin toning it down?

I’m pretty sure that a great many people also ignored the last part of the chapter, the parable of the unmerciful servant. It tells the sorry tale of a man forgiven a great debt, only to throw a fellow servant in jail for failing to to pay off a piddly little personal debt. If for no other reason, the unmerciful hounding of gay and gay-supportive Christians (who really have committed no sin against their fellow anti-gay Christians, but you wouldn’t know it from the way they are treated) shows that being faithful to certain doctrines is more important being forgiving.

The old hymn says that “They (the outside world) will know we are Christians by our Love.” Well, American Christianity, you keep ensuring that the world will know us, instead, by our hatred.

Richard Rush
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

I wonder how many donations WV actually receives from the Rabid Religious Right. I’m guessing that the RRR would rather send donations to help persecute gay people instead of feeding hungry people.

Timothy Kincaid
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

Ben

“I’m glad I made it a rule never to donate to Christian charities unless I know the church.”

That’s an excellent policy

Timothy Kincaid
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

Richard,

I think you are likely right. They listened to the yellers and the screamers rather than to the Christian people who actually care enough about sick hungry Muslim kids in North Africa to send them a check.

BJohnM
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

Richard Stearns, President
World Vision International
P.O. Box 9716
Federal Way, WA 98063-9716

Dear Mr. Stearns:

I was saddened to learn that you had capitulated to a small, but vocal, group of bigots, and reversed your decision to not discriminate in your hiring practices. I suspect the only thing, up to that point, you did wrong was issuing a public statement about it. Frankly, that was not necessary. Most people assume that organizations such as yours are doing the right thing. That is, not discriminating in your hiring practices.

What has me most upset are the completely disingenuous and contradictory statements you make in your most recent public statement on the subject.

Let’s start with, “the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith, which says, ‘We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.’” As a Christian and adult Sunday School teacher, I’ve studied the Bible in some depth. To which understanding of Biblical marriage do you refer? There are many, such as polygamous marriages, a requirement to marry you sister-in-law should your brother die before fathering sons, not re-marrying following divorce, not divorcing, or divorcing based solely on a claim by the husband, or the right of husbands to stone wives they find to not be virgins, or perhaps the view that women are property. To which of those understandings are referring with your statement?

The next statement in question is, “we strongly affirm that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created by God and are to be loved and treated with dignity and respect.” Hardly, if you and your board think they are not worthy of experiencing a loving relationship with another, and not suitable to help the poor and needy of this world.

Here is what you have now done Mr. Stearns. You have taken the side of people who are destroying Christianity and organized religion in America by causing young people to disavow association with Christian religions because they appear to be based on a theology of who we’re supposed to hate, a doctrine of exclusion. In short, you have aligned yourself and World Vision with people who believe that hating gay people is more important than feeding starving children. Those are hardly Christian people. That will, however, be your legacy. How sad for you and your board members.

MattNYC
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

As I have mentioned before, I give to Rainbow World Fund. One of their major partners is CARE (the “C” stands for “Christian” and they actually MEAN it). Rainbow World Fund “bundles” donations, similar to what happens in the political world. So a beneficiary KNOWS they are receiving “gay money”. I am unaware of any recipient rejecting money from RWF.

Timothy/Jim, It would be great if BTB did a feature on RWF. From their Website:

RWF has three primary goals – (1) To provide humanitarian aid to communities in need around the world; (2) To create awareness within the LGBT community of the need for these relief efforts; and (3) To change perceptions of the LGBT community by putting our truest humanitarian beliefs and values into action which demonstrates our compassion and caring for the world. RWF’s projects affect social change at home and abroad through education, networking, developing solidarity, fostering understanding and building community.

MattNYC
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

As an aside, whenever there’s a major disaster, I always go through the organizations listed by the major news services.

WV is always near the top, and though I have never given to them, I had investigated and they didn’t seem too obnoxious. Glad to know the details now–they go on my “no” list.

Of course I avoid the Red Cross both because of their blood policy and because they are not transparent in their internal management.

Besides CARE (outside of RWF), if I were to give to a trust-worthy, non-discriminating, faith-related organization, I usually start with B’nai B’rith or the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (I’m Jewish :), and my next choice would be Episcopal Relief & Development.

MattNYC
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

I apologize–I always assumed the “C” in CARE stood for Christian–I see they are actually non-sectarian and its original name was “Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe”.

Sorry for the mistake. My other comments still stand.

Ben In Oakland
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

Timonty,

when we were in Maui late last year, there were a number of Christian groups canvassing for money to help the Filipino victims of typhoon haian. Paul asked if we should donate to these churches and help those victims. Having listened to the religious claptrap from fundamentalist churches in Hawaii over the marriage vote, I said no, because I didn’t know who they were. But I was fairly sure they were Mormons.

We then walked into Foodland, the Hawaii grocery chain. at the checkout stand, the Filipino cashier asked us if we would donate to the relief effort, which was a major promotion of foodland’s at the time.

We handed her a twenty and got the receipt.

Timothy Kincaid
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

MattNYC,

There may be non-transparency issues re the Red Cross, but they can’t be faulted for having an anti-gay blood policy.

Since at least 2006 the Red Cross has supported lifting or revising the ban on blood donation from gay men (as has the AMA,the American Association of Blood Banks, and America’s Blood Centers).

It is the Food and Drug Administration that is refusing to change and the Red Cross is required to follow their mandate.

Timothy Kincaid
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

Ben,

I occasionally have people in odd little uniforms ask me for money outside stores. If they approach me, I ask them if they are affiliated with a church and what their position is on homosexuality.

I want them to understand why it is that I’m not giving them money.

Of course, the “spare change?” people just get a dollar or so. I don’t assume that desperate and destitute people have a policy on anything other than their next meal.

Ben In Oakland
March 27th, 2014 | LINK

You’re right, of course. One does get tired of educating the uneducated masses.

Alex Segal
April 2nd, 2014 | LINK

In 2010, I requested World Vision Australia (a recipient of my donations) to respond to the Reverend Kapya Kaoma’s allegation that in Africa, World Vision propagated a conservative position on homosexuality. World Vision Australia told me that the allegation was false and that World Vision in no way propagated a conservative position on homosexuality.

Such a blatant disregard for truthfulness in a reputable charity is astonishing. I am ashamed of having donated to them.

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