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World Vision U.S. Reverses Decision To Accept Married Gay Employees After Attacks By Right-Wing Christianists

World-visionOn March 24, the American branch of the World Vision evangelical Christian humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization announced that they would no longer forbid current or potential employees from being in committed same-sex marriages.

Then, after two days of lambasting by right-wing 'Christianists' like Franklin Graham, Matt Barber, Bryan Fischer, and Peter LaBarbera, World Vision U.S. reversed its decision, calling it "a mistake."

Before March 24, World Vision U.S. president Richard Stearns (pictured) said that the organization never asked job candidates about their sexual orientations but rather questioned them about their Christian faith and affirmation of the Apostles' Creed and World Vision's Trinitarian statement of faith.

Richard_stearnsHe said that this organization’s sexual conduct policy for employees only ever “required abstinence for all single employees, and fidelity for all married employees.”

But in an interview with Christianity Today, Stearns explained that the group’s policy change to accept same-sex marriage employees had nothing to do with receiving federal funding. In fact, World Vision opposed a 2012 USAID proposal that would have "strongly encouraged" faith-based organizations such as World Vision to follow government hiring guidelines requiring the employment of LGBT people.

And yet Stearns says that his group’s initial decision in favor of married gay employees reflected a growing acceptance of same-sex marriage within churches at large, and was not caused by any external pressure or lawsuits. Rejecting legally-married LGB candidates, he said, would create a fractious divide within his own organization:

World Vision now has staff from more than 50 denominations—a handful of which have sanctioned same-sex marriages or unions in recent years, including the United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (USA). Meanwhile, same-sex marriage is now legal in 17 states plus the District of Columbia, and federal judges have struck down bans in five other states (Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, and—most recently—Michigan) as well as required Kentucky to recognize such marriages performed in other states.

"Same-sex marriage has only been a huge issue in the church in the last decade or so. There used to be much more unity among churches on this issue, and that's changed."

Continue reading AFTER THE JUMP...

And the change has been painful to watch. "It's been heartbreaking to watch this issue rip through the church," he said. "It's tearing churches apart, tearing denominations apart, tearing Christian colleges apart, and even tearing families apart. Our board felt we cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue. We've got to focus on our mission. We are determined to find unity in our diversity."

"I think you have to be neutral on hundreds of doctrinal issues that could divide an organization like World Vision," he said. "One example: divorce and remarriage. Churches have different opinions on this. We've chosen not to make that a condition of employment at World Vision. If we were not deferring to local churches, we would have a long litmus test [for employees]. What do you believe about evolution? Have you been divorced and remarried? What is your opinion on women in leadership? Were you dunked or sprinkled? And at the end of the interview, how many candidates would still be standing? It is not our role to take a position on all these issues and make these issues a condition of employment."

George_woodNaturally, right-wing Christianists — like Franklin Graham, Matt Barber, Bryan Fischer, and Peter LaBarbera — were all severely disappointed with the decision and denounced World Vision U.S. for “selling out,” “no longer believing in the bible,” “abandoning morality” and “supporting sinners.” 

Upon hearing of the change, George O. Wood (pictured, right) — the general superintendent of the world's largest Pentecostal denomination the Assembly of God — encouraged his organization's over three million members to consider withdrawing their financial support from World Vision U.S. and re-directing their contributions to "Pentecostal and evangelical charities that maintain biblical standards of sexual morality."

Many donors also took to World Vision's Facebook page to announce their refusal to continue sponsoring children for food and educational missions central to the group's humanitarian efforts.

Then, less than two days later World Vision U.S. reversed its decision. Stearns says that a number of supporters cancelled their donations in response to the March 24 employment policy change, but contends that the decision to reverse the change "is not about money or income":

"It's a sincere desire for us to do the right thing. To be consistent with our core values, and to respond to the legitimate feedback and counsel we have received from supporters and friends of World Vision.

"There's an effort on the part of World Vision U.S. not only to be subject to the authority of Scripture, but also to be sensitive to being a member of an international partnership. There are 50-some World Visions in the world. Especially in Africa and Asia, the position World Vision just rescinded would have been troublesome."

Sharon_grovesStearns also added that the friends of World Vision U.S. "tried to point out in loving ways that the conduct policy change was simply not consistent … with the authority of Scripture" and that he wishes in retrospect that he had consulted more with Christian leaders first before deciding to accept married gay employees.

He added, "What we are affirming today is there are certain beliefs that are so core to our Trinitarian faith that we must take a strong stand on those beliefs. We cannot defer to a small minority of churches and denominations that have taken a different position."

Dr. Sharon Groves, the Religion & Faith Program Director for the Human Rights Campaign (pictured) responded to World Vision U.S.'s policy reversal with the following statement:

“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. 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 is 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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Comments

  1. Lets see for how long Christians can fight Christ.

    Posted by: Jay | Mar 27, 2014 7:09:40 AM


  2. I might be dumb and uninformed, but I actually didn't know they were a Christian organization. Won't be donating to them in the future, as I prefer my charities religiously unaffiliated.

    Posted by: Chris K | Mar 27, 2014 7:17:44 AM


  3. Well, good luck with that - it's not like those people are going to stop now that you've shown them you can be controlled with threats.

    Posted by: Tigernan | Mar 27, 2014 7:36:28 AM


  4. Let me get this straight. When The Gays boycott a company or group they're RADICAL, FAR-LEFT HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVISTS who want to DESTROY THE WORLD, but when Christianists boycott a company or group they're folks with "deeply held religious beliefs" who are being "persecuted" who are being denied their First Amendment rights for not being able to say that The Gays indoctrinate children? Got it.

    Posted by: Gigi | Mar 27, 2014 7:54:12 AM


  5. One step forward, two steps back certainly doesn't help the less fortunate of the world. Isn't that your goal? You've gone from World Vision to World Gutless. "Mistake" my ass.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Mar 27, 2014 7:55:34 AM


  6. Well, if they thought they received backlash better prepare now.
    Frankly, they show they are pathetically weak in their decisions, and now nothing they will do will satisfy noone

    Posted by: jjose712 | Mar 27, 2014 7:58:30 AM


  7. First, I refuse to be upset on Thursday by a group I had never heard of on Monday.
    Second, I have heard that this was just a publicity stunt designed to showcase the alleged power of right-wing boycotts. Totes unimpressed. Oh, but they did get lots of publicity both times, so maybe their marketing department deserves kudos.

    Posted by: Damien | Mar 27, 2014 8:19:42 AM


  8. Who would want to work anywhere that got so into your personal business?

    'He said that this organization’s sexual conduct policy for employees only ever “required abstinence for all single employees, and fidelity for all married employees.”'

    Only ever? How did they police whether a single employee was abstinent or not? What a disgusting workplace environment.

    Posted by: Mawm | Mar 27, 2014 8:49:59 AM


  9. So here is the series of events.

    1. World Vision announces they will stop one part of their bigoted policy. Married gays may now apply.
    2. Christianists denounce the move and vow to exact revenge.
    3. World Vision reverses their policy and goes back to their original discriminatory policy.
    4. Christianists announce that they have beaten back the bullying gay gestapo.

    Did I miss where we had anything to do with this circus? I guess they were just so sick of losing everything, they had to stage a fight and declare victory before any of us knew we were supposed to be involved.

    I could care less what some Xtian org does.

    Posted by: Mawm | Mar 27, 2014 8:59:00 AM


  10. What the heck? What did he get for this?

    Posted by: Willy | Mar 27, 2014 9:16:22 AM


  11. So, according to World Vision and the Assembly of God, "biblical standards of sexual morality," include adultery and fornication. Stearns acknowledges that they do not limit employment those married according to the Bible - so those who have been previously divorced (i.e., adulterers) and those who have not been married in the "right" kind of Christian church (e.g., Catholics don't recognize Baptist marriages) and are therefore fornicators, are perfectly fine for employment consideration. Just adds to the hypocrisy, you know.

    Meanwhile, these kinds of groups demand access to our tax dollars for their "charitable" work, even though we are considered subhuman and too dirty to be near, and without any guarantee that their "charity" will be extended to anyone who doesn't meet their arbitrary standards of morality. F*ck them.

    Posted by: CPT_Doom | Mar 27, 2014 9:32:56 AM


  12. "Save the Children" is a non-sectarian, highly rated charitable organization that does many of the types of things that World Vision does. I have chosen to donate to them for many years as I was afraid that World Vision was the type of organization it has proven to be - hostage to a specific sect of fundamentalist Chistianity.

    Posted by: Alex | Mar 27, 2014 10:05:37 AM


  13. Just more reason to believe Christianity is the problem, not the solution...

    Posted by: Robert M. | Mar 27, 2014 10:12:16 AM


  14. join and support an agnostic/atheist/secularist organization today.

    Posted by: ascanius1 | Mar 27, 2014 12:03:01 PM


  15. @Cpt_Doom: Catholics do recognize Baptist marriages, so long as neither spouse has a living ex-spouse.

    Posted by: TKinSC | Mar 27, 2014 4:03:28 PM


  16. Yeah, the Bible told them to discriminate.

    It's in there somewhere.....

    Too bad that hatred won in this case....

    Posted by: TonyJazz | Mar 27, 2014 5:56:58 PM


  17. Save the Children is a good organization doing good work without proselytizing. Mercy Corps is another worthwhile outfit. But we should remember to support local food banks and pantries and especially whatever agencies or private groups that provide safety and services for homeless youths--keeping close watch and pressure on them to ensure that they treat our gay kids with respect and proper attention.

    Posted by: gregorybrown | Mar 27, 2014 6:28:39 PM


  18. Another example showing how anti-gay people don't give a damn about children. They find out an organization is about to discriminate less against the people they hate?! - Well then they'll threaten to take away food and education money away from children to leverage their power! And somehow gays are the monsters in all this...

    Christianity, naturally. The crusades never ended.

    Posted by: ThisIsNotADeltaHub | Mar 27, 2014 8:05:37 PM


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