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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 28 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 13
Christian charity World Vision caves to bigots, reverses policy on hiring married Gay employees
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Christian charity World Vision caves to bigots, reverses policy on hiring married Gay employees

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Only 48 hours after announcing that it would be open to hiring employees in same-sex marriages, the Christian charity World Vision reversed course, and apologized for its momentary lapse in bigotry.

The organization, based in Federal Way, said on March 24 that after years of prayer, and after considering the different positions taken by Christian denominations, they were prepared to hire Gay and Lesbian employees who were legally married.

According to Associated Press, World Vision President Richard Stearns announced the hiring change in a letter to staff.

'I want to reassure you that we are not sliding down some slippery slope of compromise, nor are we diminishing the authority of Scripture in our work,' Stearns explained. 'We are the same World Vision you have always believed in.'

In spite of Stearns assurances, the new policy touched off a storm of criticism from right-wing Christian groups. The American Family Association, for example, called for a boycott of the group.

'This decision by World Vision to equate homosexual 'marriage' to natural marriage between a man and a woman is in direct conflict with the Holy Scriptures,' AFA said in a statement.

'Christians who support World Vision should stop as should all of the artists and authors who raise money for them. There are many other organizations that sponsor children around the world who remain true to the gospel.'

Darrell Bock, a New Testament scholar at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote on his blog that the new hiring policy was 'a betrayal of the nature of the Christian community' and 'a denial of how Jesus defined marriage as between a man and a woman when he was asked about divorce.'

Many of World Vision's previous donors posted denunciations on the agency's Facebook page, saying they would no longer fund the sponsor-a-child programs that are central to World Vision's fundraising and education.

While World Vision gets 18% of its operating budget of nearly $1 billion from federal government grants, it gets the bulk of its money from donations by self-identified Christian groups and individuals, so the massive protest put the future of the agency at risk.

By March 26, the World Vision board had capitulated to the threats. Stearns and Board Chair Jim Bere sent a letter of abject apology to supporters saying the board had made a mistake and was returning to its policy requiring celibacy outside of marriage 'and faithfulness within the Bible covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.'

'We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness,' they wrote.

'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 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,' Stearns and Bere wrote.

'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 this was never the board's intent.'

HRC, which had applauded World Vision's initial change of policy, deplored the reversal.

'We are devastated by the decision of World Vision USA to purposefully exclude married lesbian and gay employees after only recently taking an important first step in addressing inequality in their workplaces,' HRC said in a statement.

'While they said their aim was to respect the diversity of religious viewpoints on marriage, they have now buckled under the pressure of the radical right and alienated millions of fair-minded people of faith.

'At a time when people are losing their lives around the globe simply for being who they are, such a reversal is not just sad, but it sends a potentially catastrophic message. The Gospel calls on us to stand with the marginalized wherever they are. Many of the poorest people around the globe who World Vision serves are doubly marginalized because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. At a time when Pope Francis is asking, 'Who am I to Judge?' World Vision has decided they can judge with impunity and at great cost to those who need them the most.'

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