December 17, 2017

Ashamed!

Copyright David Hayward - www.nakedpastor.com - Used with permission.

Copyright David Hayward – www.nakedpastor.com – Used with permission.

Let me be clear. This post is not about homosexuality. This post is not about what the Bible does or does not say about the topic. This post is not about the rightness or wrongness of the decision of World Vision USA to open up employment to those in same-sex marriages. This post is not about the rightness or wrongness of their sudden reversal forty-eight hours later. So if you want to go to any of these areas with your comments, don’t be surprised if your comments disappear.

What this post is about is the response of so many in the evangelical community. Quite frankly, I am ashamed. More about this later in my rant.

David Hayward’s cartoon depicts my first thoughts quite well. Those who would deprive children of their means of sustenance because of an organization’s hiring policy, while at the same time purchasing their groceries from a store that has similar hiring policies are hypocrites. Hypocrites. Making children suffer because you disagree with World Vision is disgusting. These children simply can’t join another program. They have no options. You are taking away their basic necessities of life: food, clothing, and shelter.

When I was growing up I learned in Sunday School about Sodom and Gomorrah. I learned that the story was the origin of the word sodomy. What no one bothered to tell me until I was in my early forties was what the prophet Ezekiel had to say about Sodom:

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They deprived food from children because they disagreed with a hiring policy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” – Ezekiel 16:49-50

Yeah, I know I slipped an extra sentence in there. You can misquote Revelation 22:19 at me if you want to make a point. My point is that the response that Evangelicals had to World Vision fits in quite nicely with the condemnation of Sodom. When we, in all our excess, seek to deprive food, shelter, and security from those who have nothing, we are acting in a way that is arrogant, overfed, unconcerned, not helping the poor and needy, haughty and detestable.

To the two thousand or so who withdrew their support over two days: Do you have any idea what harmful impact your decisions have made to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How many youth in North America are going to abandon the faith, or not consider faith in Christ because they are sickened by your hypocrisy. Trust me, there will be many, we are already hearing their stories. How does Jesus feel about this?

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” – Mark 9:42

Do you know how much these young people are repulsed by Fred Phelps sign “God hates Fags”? Well, in the minds of many you have just held up another two thousand signs. Fred Phelps died last week, and many said “good riddance”. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that so many would step up so quickly to take his place.

I have some thoughts for Franklin Graham at Samaritan’s Purse who was one of the first to condemn World Vision. Franklin, you do know that the point of story of the Good Samaritan is that those who we revile the most are those that we are commanded to love as our neighbor? So if Jesus was directing this parable at the Evangelical community it wouldn’t be a Samaritan walking down the road in his story… it would be two guys holding hands. You of all people should know this. By joining the voices condemning World Vision, you to have caused children to suffer. (By the way, choosing to withdraw support from Samaritan’s Purse because of their stand is just as hypocritical as those choosing to withdraw support from World Vision because of their stand.)

While I did say that this post would not be about the rightness or wrongness of World Vision’s decision, I would be amiss if I didn’t add a bit of Canadian perspective before I give my final thoughts. A friend of mine is a senior staff in World Vision having served in the Canadian and then U.S. headquarters for fifteen years (though not involved in this decision.) I had the privilege of chatting with him Wednesday evening. I guessed, correctly as it turned out, that Canada’s hiring policy did not mirror the American one. In fact, he informed me that when it comes to sexual orientation, World Vision Canada has had a nondiscriminatory policy for over fifteen years. Last time I checked the sky hadn’t fallen and Lord’s return wasn’t hastened as a result. (And yes, I did read this week that the Lord’s return would be hastened because of the World Vision decision.)

So where does all of this leave me? Last week I was listening to one of my old tapes, recorded in 1981 when Bruce Cockburn was doing a solo tour. Parts of the concerts were being played on CBC radio interspersed with segments of an interview. The subject of Christianity came up. I will paraphrase here, because it will take to long to find the spot for the direct quote. The interviewer, Ralph Benmergui, asked, “You are a Christian. It must be hard for you with all those TV Evangelists and the like… it must be hard for you to say that you’re not like one of them.” Bruce responded, “Yeah, I used to spend a lot of time apologizing for them, but more and more I have come to realize that what they are offering is just bullshit.”

While I wouldn’t go as far as Bruce, I am now ashamed to call myself an Evangelical. I have never liked labels anyway, preferring the much more generic term “Christian”. While I still prefer to worship in the Evangelical tradition (comments about powerpoint will be deleted as well 🙂 ), I don’t believe I will ever refer to myself as an Evangelical ever again. Quite frankly, I would be too ashamed to use the term.

However, for those who would write me off entirely, and would want to quote Romans to me, let me finish with my own quote from Romans and some final thoughts.

“…I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:19

When Jesus started his ministry he went into the temple and proclaimed the good news:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor…” – Luke 4:18a

Kind of like the work that World Vision is doing.

* * *

Disclaimer: My wife and I sponsored a World Vision child for over ten years. We concluded our sponsorship when she left the program.

Comments

  1. Final Anonymous says:

    Amen. I have had the exact same thoughts, having waffled over the term “evangelical” for the past few years. At this point I can’t think of a single reason I need it as a descriptor.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Problem is, Fundagelicals have hijacked the word “Christian” without any adjectives to mean themselves and themselves alone. When you hear the word “Christian”, what comes to mind? Young Earth Creationism? Altar Calls and Sinner’s Prayers and Being Saved? Kynge Jaymes Bibles? The Rapture and Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist? Marches and boycotts and denunciations and Tea Party Politics? Televangelists?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > Problem is, Fundagelicals have hijacked the word “Christian”

        I do not see this. Perhaps it is true in some zones, or in rural places, but “Christian” is a good distance from “Evangelical”.

        There are large Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Pentacostal [*1], and ethnic Christian parishes; most americans live in the overlapping zones of these parishes and are aware of them; at least aware enough to know they are Not-Them [aka Evangelicals]. Where I live the ethnic Christian groups and the Romans are embedded into local everything from art fairs to metro-politics, and they are distinctly not Evangelical.

        I believe you are overstating the association. But one’s level of association probably does relate to their media consumption [Evangelicals ow* Christianity on main-stream TV] and location. However, one upside of the current age is that main-stream TV does not own the audience, and neither does radio.

        [*1] which may or may not be Evangelical. Nobody can pin those guys down.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          Now there is some weird auto-correct jiggety: “ow*” is “own”. Sorry.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          “I do not see this.”

          I see this every day. If I see someone self-identify as “Christian” or if I see a news story citing the “Christian” position on some issue, it almost invariably actually means “White American Evangelical Protestant.” I see this routinely here at imonk. In extreme cases this usage is an intentional assertion: that White American Evangelical Protestantism is the essence of Real True Christianity, with everything else being at best an imperfect version and at worst a heretical apostate church. More often it is merely an unintentional cultural tic, but even then it reinforces the stronger version.

          In my younger days I responded to this by avoiding characterizing myself as “Christian,” preferring a narrow term such as “Lutheran.” In my very advanced youth, I have realized my error (or am simply growing crotchety) and work to reclaim the word “Christian,” clarifying with “in the Lutheran tradition” if context calls for clarification.

          As for Mike abandoning the self-characterization of “Evangelical” in favor of “Christian,” the problem is that this can lead to less actual communication. It can lead to calling “Christian” some characteristic that is not in fact characteristic of Christianity as a whole, but only some subset. It can also lead to silly semantic dances, trying to convey a concept while carefully avoiding the vocabulary that would clearly do this. I see this a lot on church “What We Believe” pages. They are filled with generic pablum requiring careful analysis to figure out what tradition this church follows, where three words would say everything that need be said for those who know church taxonomy, while those who don’t would need to check Wikipedia as well. But that would be “labeling,” which is unfashionable.

          And, of course, what I really want to know is whether this church uses PowerPoint…

          • FYI, I for one am trying to distinguish between “Christian” and whatever specific tradition I’m referring to when writing here on IM. If I say “Christian” I am generalizing across traditions. I’ll say “evangelical” or “American evangelical” to describe that tradition.

          • I see it constantly as well, both as a bad habit and as a way to assert that only the evangelical tradition (however one defines that) is properly called “Christian.”

            An example, spoken by a close relative of mine:

            “Garrison Keiller hates Christians.”

            Translation into a statement possibly resembling reality: A mainline Lutheran has at one time criticized some aspect of American evangelicalism.

          • Garrison Keillor is not Lutheran. He was raised Plymouth Brethren. I understand that he attends an Episcopal church in St. Paul.

          • Danielle says:

            My bad. I made an assumption based on his fiction.

            I will rephrase: “An Episcopalian has at one time criticized some aspect of American evangelicalism.”

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            I believe that he attended a Lutheran church while living in New York, and perhaps elsewhere. The jump from ELCA to Episcopalian is very easy nowadays. It is possible to make it in a moment of inattention. Plymouth Brethren to Lutheran? That is a huge leap.

    • Not surprisingly, my gifts/tithes go to institutions that believe what I believe – taking Scripture as if words had meanings and were quite understandable.
      *
      I’m not going to support institutions that differ from my belief system. It’s quite simple. We’ve supported Haitian children for years thru a ministry that hold the same view of Scripture that I do.
      *
      I expect the majority of you send your tithles/gifts to ministries that believe what you believe.
      *
      True?

      • Final Anonymous says:

        I have no idea, because it has never occurred to me to quiz organizations outside my church on doctrinal points. The ministries feed the hungry, provide shelter to runaways, help the homeless, heal the sick, help women in crisis pregnancies… I don’t even know what denominations they are affiliated with, if any.

        • I think you should send your money wherever you chose. I do. I like to know where it’s going, I try not to support organizations that function contrary to my world view.

          • Clay Crouch says:

            How would an organization that feeds, clothes, educates, or provides health care to the poor conflict with your world view, even if they employed same sex couples? Please don’t tell me that your world view refuses to allow for LGBT folks to do good deeds.

  2. Christiane says:

    I honestly don’t think conservative evangelicals know how to handle this at all well. They want people to boycott World Vision and pledge their money to other children elsewhere, but they haven’t thought about their ties to the children who receive help through World Vision. They have to face this sooner or later, because it is a moral issue. And a deeply Christian issue for those of us for whom those children are the FIRST concern.

    This whole World Vision thing crosses into so very many areas, but the one area that raises the greatest alarm is the callousness exhibited towards the specific children presently being aided by World Vision.

    If we step outside of Christianity, Judaism offers an interesting point of view we might could learn from,
    this:

    “Rabbi Yitzhak Eizek Yehuda Yehiel Safrin of Komarno (1806-1874) wrote about this:
    ” depriving someone of his livelihood is akin to murder ”

    The Komarno Rebbe also wrote about this:
    ” thinking evil of another person in a way that may arouse harsh judgement against him is akin to murder ”

    Finally, I agree with Mike Bell, that this is a strange month, and conservative far-right evangelicals have gathered themselves stridently to one of their favorite causes, not realizing that the world IS making the connection now between their stridency and that of the recently deceased Fred Phelps. Is the timing a coincidence? Some feel that in the Kingdom of Our Lord, there are no coincidences. The timing puts light firmly on the REAL darkness at hand:
    the hearts of those so filled with vitriol that that cannot empathize with the needy children served by World Vision.

  3. Christiane says:

    I honestly don’t think conservative evangelicals know how to handle this at all well. They want people to boycott World Vision and pledge their money to other children elsewhere, but they haven’t thought about their ties to the children who receive help through World Vision. They have to face this sooner or later, because it is a moral issue. And a deeply Christian issue for those of us for whom those children are the FIRST concern.

    This whole World Vision thing crosses into so very many areas, but the one area that raises the greatest alarm is the callousness exhibited towards the specific children presently being aided by World Vision.

    If we step outside of Christianity, Judaism offers an interesting point of view we might could learn from,
    this:

    “Rabbi Yitzhak Eizek Yehuda Yehiel Safrin of Komarno (1806-1874) wrote about this:
    ” depriving someone of his livelihood is akin to murder ”

    The Komarno Rebbe also wrote about this:
    ” thinking evil of another person in a way that may arouse harsh judgement against him is akin to murder ”

    Finally, I agree with Mike Bell, that this is a strange month, and conservative far-right evangelicals have gathered themselves stridently to one of their favorite causes, not realizing that the world IS making the connection now between their stridency and that of the recently deceased Fred Phelps. Is the timing a coincidence? Some feel that in the Kingdom of Our Lord, there are no coincidences. The timing puts light firmly on the REAL darkness at hand:
    the hearts of those so filled with vitriol that they cannot empathize with the needy children served by World Vision.

  4. Michael in our society today what people understand is money. The magnitude of reaction to this obviously jolted WV. And people have a right to register their displeasure with a charity they give to.

    Maybe, just maybe there are a large number of people out there who are tired of this issue and have said enough is enough.

    Just because Canadian churches rolled over on the issue of gay marriage without a wimper does not mean everyone else will or should.

    • “in our society today what people understand is money… And people have a right to register their displeasure with a charity they give to.”

      No mention at all of the children overseas who would have suffered from the loss of their sponsors? Tell me – is God more concerned about our “taking a stand” regarding other peoples’ sins (hint – read I Cor 5:12-13), or helping the poor and towntrodden?

      And DON’T get me started on the topic of evangelicals and money. I’ve seen far too many rich suburban churches who have their theology gnats strained, but swallow camels of consumerism and self-satisfaction without a blink.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > Maybe, just maybe there are a large number of people out there
      > who are tired of this issue

      I am certainly tired of this issue. Anything LGBT, however miniscule, squeezes out all discussion and attention of or to anything and everything else. I just want it over.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Like I said several times on the last thread, it’s THE Bright Red Murder Flag for American Christians.

        Once the Unpronounceable (or its Christianese equivalent) is invoked, all neurons above the lizard brain shut down completely.

      • I am very fatigued by this issue. And I am tiring of the contributors here continually pulling it out. I enjoy much of the conversation and articles, but this one seems to take on a life all of it’s own where people are pilloried if they do not take on the so called ‘progressive’ stance.

        But I am speaking from within a context. Like Michael I too live in Canada. I do not have a problem with a society that is not religious or Christian per se. I do have a problem if the society tries to favour particular groups and use political power to squelch opposing viewpoints. To live in a pluralistic society demands that we make room for one another and at least have respect.

        I have not seen this in Canada with respect to homosexual rights. Just a few hundred kilometers from here a retired Christian couple had a B&B and did not want to have 2 gay men in their house. In Canada there are human rights commissions, if you file a complaint you have state sponsored lawyers who chase people like this evil old couple. Of course this can bankrupt them. All costs to prosecute are borne by the state. They closed their B&B and were required to pay a penalty. I know the lawyer that defended the old couple. He told me beforehand they could not win, all he could do is hope to make the commission see that the convictions the couple held were as much a part of them as the convictions the complainants held. He said it was 2 angry young men who were after them.

        A private Christian university here wants to have a law school. As is typical, they have a code of conduct (which many schools had years ago). The usual ‘don’t drink, do drugs, have premarital sex or adultery, and we believe in marriage between a man and woman’. There is a strong campaign to deny them a law school.
        Several years ago the teachers tried to deny them a teachers school because the student code of conduct, they had to fight that one to the supreme court of Canada, where they won.

        I could write a long article on this, documenting where my country has become a haven for people wanting to bludgeon religious groups of all stripes (not just Christian) into accepting their demands.

        From my perspective all that I see is Canada has gone from being a country that at one point (before my time) upheld judeo-christian views and very likely abused and hurt minorities to a country that now uses individual rights as a club to beat religious groups. All we have done is introduce another brand off fundamentalism, with just as much fervour as the original.

        I just cannot see how that is in any way progress.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          He said it was 2 angry young men who were after them.

          That describes a LOT of Activists(TM), no matter what their Cause(TM).

          All we have done is introduce another brand off fundamentalism, with just as much fervour as the original.

          But the new Righteous who now Hold the Whip can marinate in their Oh-so-Delicious Righetousness, and that’s what’s important.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “For in the Devil’s theology, the most important thing is to be Absolutely Right and to prove everyone else to be Absolutely Wrong. This does not lead to peace among men.”
            — Thomas Merton, “Moral Theology of the Devil”

            And it holds for secular belief systems as well.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > That describes a LOT of Activists(TM), no matter what their Cause(TM).

            This describes some, and I believe a minority, of Activists. You speak of activists as those who are defined by Opposition. Many many activists, if not easily most, work TOWARDS/FOR some goal because they believe it is valuable or will be better. Those activists just don’t spend much time screaming at people.

            Don’t waste your time on Opposers. Advocates are more fun.

    • Ken, I fear that when you say “In our society what people understand is money” you have perhaps said far more than you realize. And it doesn’t make any of us look good.

      • Dave that was quite intentional – we have to face the fact that in our society we still have a trinity. It is money, sex and power.

        And when dealing particularly with large corporations the only thing they understand is money.

        To me the deeper question here is how WV leadership managed to get that far out of touch with their core constituency

    • Canadian World Vision didn’t “roll over and play dead”

      http://churches.worldvision.ca/our-christian-identity-responding-to-world-vision-us-hiring-policy-change/

      Not sure why Mike Bell didn’t post this link.

      • I had searched for a statement from World Vision Canada before I wrote my article. I could not find one, so I had a lengthy conversation with a friend who was a long time staffer instead. I only saw the link just as I was posting. I decided not to link because the essence of the statement had been included in my article. I was thinking today that I should have contacted Samaritans Purse Canada to find out what their hiring policy is.

  5. “Fred Phelps died last week, and many said “good riddance”. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that so many would step up so quickly to take his place.”

    Really??? Come on Mike these are our brothers in Christ.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      So was Fred Phelps. Didn’t stop anyone–right wing, left wing, conservative, liberal–from vehemently criticizing his actions.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > So was Fred Phelps. Didn’t stop anyone… – vehemently criticizing his actions.

        Nor should it. Squelching criticism is not how one creates unity or solidarity.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        I see the “brothers in Christ” argument brought up almost invariably in defense of some appalling action by someone within the White American Evangelical Protestant fold. I don’t recall seeing it applied when, for example, my church body voted to accept gay pastors. If I missed it, I would appreciate a link.

        • Peace From The Fringes says:

          Rather like how we suddenly hear squeals of “grace!, grace!” when someone high in the WAEP structure is caught doing something dreadful. It’s a get-out-of-jail free card that just keeps on giving.

      • Criticizing is one thing . Comparing Conservative Evangelicals views to Fred Phelps views is another.

        “Hate is ascribing wicked and evil motives to people who are neither wicked or evil in an attempt to diminish them, silence them, and pretend a higher moral ground.” -Michael Newnham

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          I’m sure Newnham is a great guy, but that’s just not a definition for hate. Stereotyping, maybe, or discrimination, but not hate. The terms are not inherently synonymous with each other. I would also argue that the quote you used is the one (and perhaps the only) point of comparison between the conservative evangelical movement and Phelps.

          • Fair enough Marcus. I probably shouldn’t drag poor Michael Newnham into this discussion without him being able to follow up his thought. I use his quote because he articulates how I view this topic much better than I can.

            This whole thing is extremely upsetting to me as it is to you I’m sure. I don’t like seeing this kind of discord among us.

            I pray that we as brothers can come out on the other side of this stronger as One in Him.

            Blessings

      • Fred Phelps, a brother in Christ? Not something I would say with certainty. Two verses come to mind:

        “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7.21)

        “Each tree is known by its own fruit” (Luke 6.44)

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          Great memory verses, but they don’t speak for themselves, and they aren’t the passages I would use when referring to clarifying the term “brother in Christ.” My search suggests that this term only appears in complete form in the book of Colossians, and the context of that passage doesn’t automatically connect to the Matthew and Luke ones.

          I also find it interesting that, whenever someone who shares our identity does something as morally repugnant as Fred Phelps, our first instinct is to act like they are not part of us. Take the term “American,” for example. No one likes to think of the Columbine killers or Dzokhar Tsarnaev as Americans, especially when we’re boasting about how awesome our country is. I’m a Baylor grad, and I don’t like referring to Colton Eric Dotson, Jr. as a Baylor Bear, but he was.

          Fred was my brother, and yours, too. I find him disgusting and virulently hateful, but I don’t see any value in claiming that he stopped being my brother once he started to sin–and do so horribly and unregrettably.

          • Marcus, you can claim him as your brother if you wish. Not me. If I’m wrong, I’ll find out the day the meat wagon comes for me. For now, I have nothing to lose by not claiming him as anything other than a stain on the Church and a vile spewer of hate–both to homosexuals and soldiers who gave their lives for my freedom (some of whom were both).

            As for your hermeneutics, not something I would agree with, for both of these verses mean exactly what they say, namely, not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian. I consider Phelps to have been the proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” And the only way you can tell is by their behavior. Phelp’s behavior necessitates no further remarks or exposition from me.

          • Marcus Johnson says:

            So, because his sin is so great, he stops being your “brother in Christ?”

            You’re not only totally in the right to call him “a stain on the Church and a vile spewer of hate–both to homosexuals and soldiers who gave their lives for my freedom (some of whom were both),” you’re not alone, because that’s how I feel about him (I use much more–shall we say–colorful language than you). Still, the contempt we might have for someone’s sin doesn’t serve as evidence that they are any less of a child of God than we are. And while not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian, it would be a far leap to make the claim about who he is as “a brother in Christ.” I still leave room for the possibility that God was working with Fred until he took his last breath.

          • Marcus, ultimately I do not know anyone’s eternal fate. But I can make discernment based on behavior (i.e., what they say and what they do). In Phelp’s case the fact that he claimed to be a Christian is of little consequence in light of his behavior. I reiterate and expand,

            “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6.43-45)

            Evil people speak evil and good people (i.e., those who have been made good by Christ) speak good–mostly (this is the simultaneous saint-sinner thing). In Phelp’s I see nothing but evil spewing forth, the worst of which is that he has dragged down his Westboro congregation with him.

            Look, I’m a Calvinist and I see things from a Reformed perspective. I very much believe in the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. But to in order to “persevere” one first has to be there. It’s not that Phelps ever stopped being my brother in Christ; he never was one in the first place.

            As I stated previously, I may be surprised ion the end. But I don’t have to give him any benefit of the doubt. I give lots & lots of folks the benefit of the doubt, but not guys like him. The burden of proof was on him. He was weighed and was found wanting. That’s my opinion. I hope I’m wrong.

        • Clay Crouch says:

          Been a rough week, Calvin?

  6. Michael, thank you for this post. Am not surprised to hear that Canada is far more progressive in this regard, either.

  7. Thank you for this post. I thought some of the reactions I saw online were rather extreme.

    Question/Thought Experiment: If an organization is doing good in the world, under what circumstances is it permissible to withdraw support once you have started giving support?

    (Given the terms in the article, I won’t ask for a response in the form of a [REDACTED] presentation…)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      >is it permissible to withdraw support once you have started giving support?

      Yes, any time you like. NPOs/NGOs exist to collect voluntary donations and do X with them.

      Personally I do no give to WV; I find their adopt-a-child-here-is-a-picture thing to be sleazy, it is a tactic specifically to guilt you into committing to them. It adds to nothing driving food trucks to blighted and savaged communities. But I wouldn’t stop giving to a charity due to their hiring practices either; unless horribly egregious or illegal those are internal operational issue.

      Giving is important, but you can move that giving around all you want; unfettered by guilt. There are myriad `worthy` causes and reputable organizations.

      • Personally I do no give to WV; I find their adopt-a-child-here-is-a-picture thing to be sleazy, it is a tactic specifically to guilt you into committing to them.

        Adam, I know what you mean, but I’d stop short of calling it sleazy. It’s very effective, tugs at the heart-strings of donors, and I won’t argue that guilt is a factor. But, a lot of organizations do the same thing, Compassion International for example, down to the wrinkled old beggar woman using a small child as bait. You can even adopt a whale with some organizations, and track its migration.

        It’s possible to give directly to the general fund of these organizations. My wife leads an annual mission trip to the Dominican Republic, revolving around a church school there, and the board agreed a few years ago to raise money by sponsoring children. We opted out of that, even though my wife is chairperson of the board. She and I give monthly, but no child attached to the donation. She’s too attached to the place anyway and knows a lot of these kids personally. But it’s an effective method, and it does keep people emotionally aware of the need by putting (literally) a face on poverty.

      • “Personally I do no give to WV; I find their adopt-a-child-here-is-a-picture thing to be sleazy, it is a tactic specifically to guilt you into committing to them.”

        I can’t disagree strongly enough. The RELATIONSHIP that has arisen as a result of the picture of a specific child has been invaluable to our family and I hope to our sponsor child. I suppose that if you just send a monthly check then it is the same as throwing money at any big faceless organization. But what organizations like WV and Compassion International are trying to foster are relationships that go beyond the exchange of money. Connecting with, praying for, and corresponding with a child in another culture multiplies the benefits of the money sent. That’s why cutting off support because you have a gripe against the organization is such a betrayal of the child you are sponsoring.

        • Agree with you here, TPD. I sponsor two WV kids. Trade pics and letters every so often (probably not enough, but the lack of relationship is MY problem, not World Vision’s.)

          ->”That’s why cutting off support because you have a gripe against the organization is such a betrayal of the child you are sponsoring.”

          That is a PERFECT way of describing it. Betrayal. A friend of mine mentioned on Facebook her potential withdrawal support and I fired back with a “Don’t let an organizational decision that you don’t agree with affect your support of a needy child!” Especially one that you’ve developed a relationship with!

          Poor little Sanja in India finds out her sponsor has dropped her…and WHY? Because her sponsor doesn’t like a decision. “Gee, thanks, Sponsor! I’m still hungry and need clothes! Glad you’re holding the line on morality!”

      • i thought the same thing, in regards to the “sleazy” approach, until someone explained it to me this way: we asked our church to sponsor children through WV in the Congo. over 100 children were sponsored. on an annual basis, our attenders committed to over $50,000 in giving to the Congo. would they have done this as a line item in the budget if there wasn’t the tie to children’s faces? maybe this is the problem, but I happen to think if there is “sleaziness” involved, it’s on the part of those who won’t donate unless they can attach a face to the cause. hope that makes sense!

    • Excellent point @srs. The premise by Mike Bell is absurd: that to stop funding World Vision over moral issues is akin to starving the poor and hungry.

      We have many choices today, and there are many organizations that serve the poor – both secular and religious. Choose one that lines up with what you believe is right, and don’t condemn those who might believe otherwise.

      • Absurd? I think it is absurd that 2000 children who were being financially supported 3 days ago no longer have that support.

        • ….and 2000 others who previously didn’t have that support will now be receiving it. The deck was shuffled, but the giving has not stopped. Who is responsible for the change?

          • Danielle says:

            A quibble: I get that you are talking in terms of the effect of donor dollars overall on collective poverty alleviation worldwide. That’s a rational approach when discussing such things as national and international policy.

            But still, I think it is worth point out that individuals aren’t interchangeable. You’re shifting aid way from specific individuals and communities toward new ones. That leaves someone behind.

            I think people sometimes picture poverty in terms of a vast sea of thin brown people, where any given individual just a symbol of the issue. But that’s an effect of distance and a very subtle racism.

            One would not be quick to write in this vein if one were discussing the funding scholarships for kids in your hometown. You’d be thinking, “Oh, I know that kid, and I want to make sure he’s OK.”

          • Good points. I agree with what you are saying. I do not think that if I were a supporter of WV I would pull my funds overnight for this. But neither would I judge so harshly those who have. They are neither being stingy nor responsible for children going unfed. In the end, they affected the change they sought, and nobody is actually going hungry for it.

          • Marcus Johnson says:

            No one is going hungry right now. This incident played out over a couple of days; I don’t have access to the numbers, but I don’t think there was any interruption in services that began and ended in two or three days’ time.

            That doesn’t mean that the people who were prepared to pull their donations should expect that the same kid that they were sponsoring through WV would be covered through another organization. Part of that is a failing with the WV setup, focusing on individual child sponsorship than on community infrastructure (a totally separate issue, not worth getting into too much detail here). However, it’s not as though an ex-WV donor can walk across the street to Charity B, give them their child’s profile, and expect the donation to continue.

            I also looked at their website. There is nothing to suggest what the plan of action would be if a donor decided to cancel their sponsorship (if you can find it, let me know). I would assume that means that there is nothing in place.

        • I think this point has been raised here in the comments Mike, but are there ANY circumstances under which you believe it would be fair for a (Christian) donor to decide to withdraw their funding from World Vision? Or are they morally obligated to continue their funding indefinitely, regardless of how the organization is run?

          • Marcus Johnson says:

            I gave a hefty, not exclusive list below. No one is claiming that donors are honor-bound to fund WV indefinitely.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        It’s not an absurd premise, and these are not condemnations; they are criticisms, which are perfectly okay.

        There are many legitimate reasons not to donate to a charitable organization: lack of transparency on where the money goes, no accountability to donors, lack of organization, no clear evidence that the funds are helping to accomplish a worthwhile mission, etc. Choosing not to donate to a worthy cause just because the presiding organization using hiring practices that conflict with a personal conviction, regardless of one’s faith tradition or political leanings, is pretty absurd. If the money goes to good use, then the act of giving and the gift is blessed. If the internal office policy violates the law of God, then God has a pretty good track record of holding those folks accountable.

      • Mike’s premise isn’t absurd. Organizations like WV are built around creating relationships between a sponsor and a child. The organization is nothing more than a middleman. What kind of cold hearted person would cut off their sponsor child because they have (even a legitimate) gripe with the middleman???

      • Do you honestly think that your adopt-a-child-dollars go directly to that child?
        Mike, if it’s *solely* about feeding the kids, and the most desperate need is in muslim, war-torn countries, then let’s prove that we’re really hard-core: we should all be donating to the Red Crescent instead, or perhaps to the local warlord who has a more efficient means of distribution in his own name.

        No, World Vision has created that fundraising/ marketing system designed to appeal to the American Evangelical subculture’s values of compassion in the name of Christ – – so that donors think of their dollars represent a personal mission, not a generic food bank or supermarket. No surprise when those donors feel their mission has deviated from what they thought it was about.
        Frankly, I’m surprised that an agency that specializes in cross-cultural outreach would be so tone-deaf to the culture of their core fundraising base, and possibly also to some of the non-western cultures they’re trying to reach that do not share progressive values regarding gay marriage.
        (It’s possible there’s some issue of World Vision using government funds in their programs that requires them to adopt this H.R. policy, but I don’t know.)

        I’ve read NakedPastor’s (David Hayward’s) cartoons for years, and recall that he disassociated himself from his own evangelical church. I do not hold him in shame for ceasing to reach out to his local community via that church – – he just found another path to express his compassion.

        • Your argument isn’t valid for Mike’s post. You’re arguing that a person shouldn’t support WV because too much of the dollars they receive go to overhead, not enough directly to the sponsored child or child’s community. Fine.

          But that’s separate from the issue at hand. We’re talking about the people who HAVE decided to support WV children, but decided to pull their dollars because of this decision. These are people who’ve probably magnetized pics of their sponsored kids stuck to the refrigerator, who probably pat themselves on the back for the good they’re doing by supporting a needy child in Bangladesh or Columbia, and then decide the moral high ground needs to be a hill to die on and yank their funds for those kids and communities. It really is shameful.

          • Actually Rick, the issue at hand is that World Vision constructed a marketing system that makes it appear as if you are directly feeding that child. But, my checks are made out to World Vision not to the child.

            Disclosure:I have sponsored WV children in the past, but have donated elsewhere in recent years. I did not demand that the child be Christian, nor their family, etc. but I chose the means of distribution that may most closely reflect my value at that time. It felt nice to sponsor a child, but I did not make a commitment to the child, I made it to the organization, World Vision, based on an alignment to a common goal.

            Mike Bell’s assertion that withdrawing support from World Vision = pulling food from a child’s mouth is an extrapolation from the artificial construct of WV’s own marketing creation. It is potentially fraught with all sorts of emotional blackmail, as someone else wrote in the comments here.

          • Rick Ro. says:

            I hear what you’re saying, Steve. I may not agree with all of it, but you raise some valid points.

  8. Marcus Johnson says:

    When WorldVision decided not to police its employees’ sexual lifestyle, I was temporarily pleased as butter. Thought about finally sponsoring a child through them as a result.

    When they retracted, I was not pleased. Thought about pulling the money that I never sent them.

    Over the past couple of days, though, I think I realized that this money had been burning a hole in my pocket for a while. I’m not sure if WorldVision is the best place to send my money (any place that is so reliant on outside pressure to influence its policies raises questions in my mind about their accountability), but this money has to go somewhere; it can’t just sit in my bank account. Besides, even people like Rachel Held Evans admitted that, regardless of the shift in policy, the money will still most likely go to good use, and the blessing for me would be in the giving, not the gift itself.

    For those who choose not to donate to WorldVision, where are you donating? Red Cross? Amnesty International? Will they promise to do the same thing that WorldVision would do with my money, or something better?

    • Marcus – I’ve been with Compassion International for years and I would highly recommend them.

      http://www.compassion.com/

      • Vega Magnus says:

        I’ll vouch for Compassion too. My parents have used them for years and they have never had any problems.

      • I do know that the Canadian branch of Compassion is to the left of World Vision. Part of why I didn’t want to get into this part of the discussion.

    • Marcus, we like what used to be called CFCA and is now called Unbound. Through them you can sponsor a child or an aged person, but the money goes to the entire community, not just to one individual, to improve employment, schooling, etc. We’re happy about our involvement.
      http://www.unbound.org/

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        Nice. I had not heard of them before. Reading through their site it seems a more realistic and holistic approach – and less dramatic than some other organizations [which I appreciate].

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        That actually sounds more productive to me. A focus on community engagement over individual sponsorship seems like it would have more of a long-term effect.

      • And World Vision doesn’t do this?

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          Not particularly. Their donation seem to be more of a “one donor, one child” type deal. It’s not bad, but I can understand someone questioning the efficiency of that strategy.

          I wouldn’t have a problem with someone donating to another organization for that reason.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          I wouldn’t be surprised if they do, but they don’t market it that way. An organization does do a lot to create the image other have of it.

          • That Other Jean says:

            So far as I could tell from what Darrell Dow over at “Stuff Fundies Like” wrote during and after his trip to Sri Lanka last year with a number of other bloggers on a visit to see what World Vision was all about, although it is marketed as sponsorship of a particular child, donations actually benefit the entire community. Extras may be sent to a particular child you’re sponsoring, but most of the donations are spent on community-wide projects. I’d much prefer to donate to organizations that benefit everybody, not just a select few.

    • To those who want to give alternate suggestions, you are missing Marcus’ and my points.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Thanks MIchael.

      That being said, I wouldn’t mind suggestions on other donation sites. Not that I refuse to consider WorldVision (just want to make it clear that they’re still on the table), but I’m so used to impulsive giving that I haven’t really taken a lot of time to think about how the money’s going. It feels like that story is worth knowing, too, not as a factor in determining whether I give, but as a general way of increasing my sense of cultural and global awareness.

    • Overall, I think World Vision did a good job of putting first things first all throughout this debacle. They’re first priority is the children. Their initial change seems to have come from a desire to not place themselves above their employees churches. There was certainly a point at which “no married gays/lesbian” could be considered a universal christian tenet, but once several denominations decided it was okay World Vision stepped back because they didn’t want to over-rule their employees churches.

      When the shit hit the fan they realized that this was hurting the children and since that does appear to be their #1 priority they undid it. The apology was a bit awkward though.

      Overall, I’m impressed with how WV handled the situation. It was a terrible place to be in.

      • ->”Overall, I think World Vision did a good job of putting first things first all throughout this debacle. They’re first priority is the children. Their initial change seems to have come from a desire to not place themselves above their employees churches.”

        I agree with you, Ken L. Once they stepped into the crap, they did a good job of putting children first. Obviously, they should never have made the decision in the first place, and they totally misread the evangelical landscape and misread their base of support, but once they saw what was going on, they responded to the awkwardness about as gracefully as an organization can.

        I bet the next time they make a policy decision that has “morality” all over it, they’ll do a little survey of their sponsors, first.. LOL!

    • Danielle says:

      The ELCA runs community-based hunger relief programs.

      http://www.elca.org/hunger

      I’m sure other major denominations do as well.

  9. Sitting here in the UK, it’s been interesting to watch this issue play out in cyberspace. Same-sex marriage is a hot issue here too, but so far nowhere near as divisive in evangelical wing of the church as it is in the US.

    Like Mike, what has shocked me most has not been WV’s original decision but the public reaction of so many Christians to it. When Denny Burke tweeted “Farewell, World Vision”, there were a lot of people cheering him on. (And yes, I have probably lost some friends on Facebook for saying that WV’s original decision didn’t shock me.)

    We, by which I mean the church, are going to have to have a serious think about how we respond to “sin” in the world. I put the word in quote marks because it seems so open to interpretation. I’m not saying we should be ignoring sin or that sin doesn’t matter. But sexuality has become such a culturally and politically charged issue that throwing words like sin around merely projects condemnation and judgement, and thus puts up further barriers between lost people and the love of God, which IMO is the only thing that really has the power to overcome sin anyway.

    If anyone’s interested, I offered some thoughts on this on my blog yesterday: http://www.faithmeetsworld.com/on-world-vision-and-a-christian-response-to-sin/

  10. I hate to over-post, but another thought just struck me, that makes the situation even worse in my mind – in this whole episode, the children being sponsored by the people who threatened to quit WV were, for all intents and purposes, turned into pawns in yet another skirmish in our “Culture Wars”. Their likely bewilderment, and their having to cope with the loss of support for their daily needs – did that even cross the minds of their sponsors? Are these kids real to them – or is making their home country “more Christian” worth more to them than helping a child (even if those who we consider “sinful” end up as go-betweens)?

  11. Franklin Graham seems nicer that Fred Phelps and doesn’t carry picket signs at military funerals. Nevertheless he speaks like his Doppelgänger when he muses that America would be better off under a Vladimir Putin, rounding up all the queers into a gulag. Based on the WorldVision reaction, it seems Graham speaks for many evangelicals when he sounds like a spokesman for Westboro Baptist. Graham runs a competing shop to WV. Guess who is going to benefit the most from his rival’s culture wars troubles?

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      My cynical take is that the picket signs at military funerals is the sole reason why the Evangelical community rejected Phelps. His opinions on gays was not outside the Evangelical mainstream. What set him apart was his elevation of the gay issue over everything else, while veneration of the troops is another bulwark of mainstream Evangelicalism (at least in principle, not necessarily extending to paying for government programs to meet the troops’ actual needs).

      • Give me a break. Fred Phelp’s opinion on gays was “God hates fags!” The Evangelical mainstream’s opinion on gays is “Jesus loves sinners and died to save them.”

        • I agree with you, Miguel. Even in my fairly conservative church, most every one I talk to thinks the Westboro Baptist “God Hates Fags” thing has no place in promoting the Good News of the Gospel. When I ask people, “Do you know that their official website is GodHatesFags.com – that THAT’S what they’ve decided to use as their official link?”, most folks respond with a drop of the jaw and a shaking of the head.

        • If that be so, it really depends on several factors. There are those churches, at least down here in Texas, where the evangelical mainstream listens to the arrogant hate-mongers on AFA or whatnot. Most sitting in the pews are not frothing-at-the-mouth homophobes. The apathetic majority simply tunes out the noise and assents by silence to whatever the leadership says . They are enablers in their own way.

      • Richard, I’m a pastor of a conservative Evangelical church. I assure you that Phelp’s opinions on homosexuals are in no way congruent with ours. It would be like comparing apples and crankshafts.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          Let me rephrase it. I did not mean to say that mainstream Evangelicals necessarily share Phelps’s views, but that it is possible to hold those views and remain within the mainstream of Evangelicalism. Whenever someone compares homosexuality to bestiality or pederasty, this is every bit as hateful as anything Phelps said, yet these are entirely acceptable within mainstream Evangelicalism. Two things set Phelps apart: the picketing of funerals, and his bluntness. Mainstream Evangelism has mostly adopted a convention of discourse which is more polite in form, but not necessarily in content. This is an updated version of the country club where the use of the “n” word is not tolerated, but they certainly wouldn’t allow blacks as members. Remove the troop funerals and we have indiscreet language. Would that have been enough to make Phelps persona non grata? I doubt it.

          • Richard, as you might know from having read some of my other comments here and in previous posts, I tend to defend the underdog, primarily Evangelicalism and Calvinism as those are attacked more frequently than others.

            Regardless, even in your clarification/modification here you are still making some connections between Phelps and Evangelicals, albeit giving some credit to the latter for being better at “convention of discourse.” In other words, Phelps was overt/indiscreet and Evangelicals are covert/discreet. Thank you for being so charitable. I feel better already.

            Look, it is clear that you have a bias against Evangelicalism which is coming across as personal. Not sure who said or did what to you but I recommend you work on that with an end to NOT being biased against your brothers and sisters.

      • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/28/ed-farrell-arizona-fred-phelps_n_5043250.html

        He wrote, “If you read the article, it mentions nothing about him being anti military, which by the way, I support our troops 100 % and thank God every morning for the ones that put their lives and their families on the line for America. All the article mentions is how this guy fought against Gay rights on a biblical platform that God set before us.”

  12. I see some similarity with the whole Hobby Lobby fiasco. Does Hobby Lobby seem at all concerned about all the aborted babies in China where many of their cheaply priced goods come from? Not that I can see. They only seem to worry about what might cost them a bit of money, and allow them to stand up against the intrusions of the evil government. Culture war all the way.

  13. When I give to a charity, I usually ask myself two questions; 1) what are they going to do with my money and 2) what is the likelihood that my money is going to be used for the stated purpose. I can think of no other reason to give to a charity.

    When World Vision decided to hire homosexuals, which of these two questions would have been answered differently? I have given to Muslim charities and to Jewish charities in the past. What is the difference here?

    PS gripe all you want to about how retrograde and disgusting are the Evangelicals, and how they refuse to get with the Care Bear program. Most Christians aren’t Evangelicals. The Orthodox and the Catholics have retrograde and disgusting down to an art. We aren’t even going to ordain women any time soon, much less marry homosexuals. “Progressive” Christians looking for moral support in these two camps are going to be sadly disabused.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      PS gripe all you want to about how retrograde and disgusting are the Evangelicals, and how they refuse to get with the Care Bear program.

      I’ll take the Elements of Harmony over a Care Bear Stare any day.

  14. Patricia Stewart says:

    If World Vision IS a Christ honoring organization, do they not have a responsibility to hold forth Christ in all that they do? I believe we are becoming distracted here. This issue is not about feeding starving children, it is about the Gospel of Jesus. How beautiful are the feet of those who carry the Good News. Sometimes those feet have to walk through some mud.

    • I see what you are saying, but in this case it seems that the Gospel was not being used to spread the good news but to deny children the means to sustain life. Would the outcry be the same if this was an organization dedicated to stopping abortions so that those babies could have life? Somehow I doubt it.

    • That Other Jean says:

      And the Gospel of Jesus says to feed the hungry and to love your neighbor. It doesn’t say anything about recognizing same- sex marriage.

      • That’s not the Gospel.

        The Gospel is that Jesus died to pay for the sins of His people.

        • That Other Jean says:

          You’re absolutely right. Change that to “Jesus said. . .”

        • Dana Ames says:

          Ned,

          In the Gospels, Jesus said that the gospel/good news was the Kingdom of God is at hand/breaking in, as in Isaiah 52.7. See N.T. Wright’s “Jesus and the Victory of God” for elaboration.

          I embarked on a very interesting journey once I began studying the bible very carefully in order to find out what Jesus himself said the good news is. I’m not being flip.

          Peace to you-
          Dana

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      I’m sure the starving children would really like it if it was about them, seeing as how they’re, you know, starving.

      • ->Sarcasm mode on…

        Oh, you are SO wrong, Marcus. I’m POSITIVE those kids are sitting in their rickety thatched huts, stomachs growling, saying, “YES, YES, YES, sponsor! Don’t worry about me! Take a stand! Keep that line drawn in the sand! Plant your flag and die on that hill of morality!”

        ->Sarcasm mode off.

        😉

  15. Michael Z says:

    Do you know what I find absolutely disgusting? There are people in many countries World Vision serves who take, like, ants and termites and grasshoppers and stuff, and fry them up and put them IN THEIR MOUTHS and then they CHEW on them and they’re all crunchy and squishy and their little legs and antennas and eye-stalks get stuck between your teeth and some of these people are Christians and they KNOW the Bible says insects are unclean, they KNOW that Scripture calls these acts they’re committing an abomination, but they persist in doing them. And not only does World Vision not take a stand against insect-eating, but I’ve heard that some of their staff, when visiting these countries, even though their natural instincts tell them this is repulsive, will eat bugs just to “see what it’s like” or in order to be “gracious guests.” That’s nothing less than a denial of the authority of Scripture an an abdication of the entire Gospel.

    I say, until World Vision takes a stand against bug-eaters, we shouldn’t give them any money. I mean, it’s good that they at least want to support the Biblical definition of marriage (Biblical marriage = 1 man + 1 or more women + sometimes concubines), but Paul himself said that if you break the Law of Scripture on even one count, it’s as if you’ve broken it all.

    • Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0984074414

    • David Cornwell says:

      I live on a farm, and an insect flew into my mouth one day when I was outside. I swallowed it, and ended up repenting for an entire week. So disgusting and repugnant. I hope my repentance worked. I may have missed some “steps” in undoing this abomination, but maybe someone can point me in the right direction. Or, am I unclean now in the eyes of the evangelical church and its legal experts at Law?

    • Top comment.

    • David Cornwell says:

      Wow, I just found the answer:

      “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.…

    • Michael Z, thanks for the comic relief. We could have used it yesterday.

      You left out pork, but that would have been too obvious.

  16. If you want your faith family identification more clearly delineated and intentional, substitute “Christ-follower” for “Christian.”

    If you want your relief-and-development giving to include more overt gospel proclamation, look into Compassion International or Gospel for Asia rather than World Vision.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      That’s not gonna work. Nothing prevents every Fred Phelps, Benny Hinn, Ken Ham, Perry Noble, Doug Phillips, Bob Jones whatever number, etc from also rebranding themselves “Christ-followers” as well. And you’re back to square one.

      We had something similar happen in Furry Fandom several years ago when there was a push to call themselves “Anthro” instead of “Furry” to distance themselves from the “Furry” reputation. The crazies just started calling themselves “Anthros” and self-promoted their kinks until they became the public face of “Anthro” as well as “Furry”.

      • Well, like the TV commercial says, “Your mileage may vary.” It’s been my experience that some of the people who you mentioned (or people very similar in outlook) don’t like the term “Christ-follower” any more than they like the term “spiritual formation” because they associate both with soul-patch wearing Emergents. I think the pejoration of words happen more when they become mainstream. “Christ-follower” has always remained secondary or tertiary.

      • I thought the name “Headless Unicorn Guy” was just an odd personal affectation. Now it seems a little pervy. No judgement intended.

        • Not pervy. He calls himself that in memory of an innocent unicorn who was sent to the guillotine.

          The age of reason has no need of unicorns.

  17. Well, I don’t have much to say, except thanks CM. I agree with you completely.

  18. I am so disappointed in Franklin Graham’s remarks over the last 2 years: bigoted, didactic, etc. Several years ago, on Sean Hannity’s TV show, Hannity was actually scolding him for taking Samaritan’s Purse to North Korea to deliver many tons of food to starving children. People desperately hunting on the ground for any morsel. And WHY was he so critical? North Korea is a communist country, and they don’t deserve to eat. Graham stepped up to the plate , quoting scripture to support SP’s position, I hope he has not changed.

  19. Amen. Great post. The passage that comes to mind is Matthew 23:23-24

    Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

    Jesus clearly says there is an order of importance in the matters of the law and that justice/mercy/faithfulness are at the top. He also said they will know we are Christians, not by our moral purity, but by our love. Though both have importance (You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former), caring for “the least of these” has always been God’s high priority concern.

    • Are you sure you want to be the first person to play the “Phraisee” card?

      Are you so sure you can separate love from moral purity? Christ and the Apostles would most certainly disagree. Love is the fulfillment of the Law, Christ says. I cannot run around on my wife and then insist, “but I still love her!” This may be true, but such behavior is not loving.

      “You should practice the latter without neglecting the former.” This is precisely what Evangelicals do. I wouldn’t be so quick to criticize those who have and will most certainly continue to shoulder the lion’s share of such charitable work. They, at least, are being consistent.

      • -I’m not trying to “play the Pharisee card.” I’m just referencing a scripture that strikes me as dealing with a similar principle. Namely, some matters are more important than others (gnats and camels).
        -I’m not taking issue with Evangelicals, I am an Evangelical. My issue is with those that put less important matters (sending a message/taking a stand) above more important matters (Fulfilling a commitment to support and have relationship with a sponsor child).
        -I’m not trying to separate love and moral purity. I’m saying that showing love is more important than making a statement against impurity.

        Sorry if my post was confusing.

  20. To suggest that evangelicals who exercise freedom of conscience in their giving (no matter how misguided you believe them to be) are akin to the vileness of the Phelp’s clan demonstrates that some progressives have no problem using starving children as pawns to champion their ideologies.

    • Bingo. Throwing Evangelicals under the bus of the progressive agenda is far more akin to Phelp’s intollerance than the generous people who are going to continue their work of helping those in need while society ridicules them for not mirroring the values of the world.

  21. Andrew Terry says:

    I disagree with the cartoon. You cannot make the same correlation between a grocery store and an organization that claims to be Christian and have Christian values. The grocery store does not claim to follow Christ or to be the arm of Christ in helping the poor. When people give to World Vision they see them as an organization that promotes their own values, namely, the commands of Christ. Those that fund World Vision are not just paying for World Vision’s employees to feed the poor but to also represent Christ to the world. Therefore, it is understandable that some would feel betrayed, in a way, because World Vision’s actions deviated from what they believed to be the teachings of Christ. If an individual or organization no longer follows the commands of Christ then they can no longer represent Christ to the world. The grocery store is different. I pay them for food, not to represent Christ to their customers.

    • Peace From The Fringes says:

      This is precisely why I give to secular organizations. If I am donating my hard-earned money, I simply want the organization to get food, services, etc. to people who need it as quickly and efficiently as possible. That, in a nutshell, is the very definition of Christianity – IMHO.

      If they are providing sustenance to those who lack it, then they are representing Christ to the world. Spare me the preaching and the witnessing and all the rest of it. Goats delivered, wells dug, food served, end of story as far as I’m concerned. If a communist, transvestite Wiccan is willing to serve, let them serve and bless their soul for their time and effort.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        +1

        If being a Christian charity means one has to cross the hump of righteous living before getting around to gracious giving, then I can’t really judge you for donating to secular organizations who don’t have that obstacle to worry about.

      • That Other Jean says:

        Indeed.

    • I agree that there is a different ethical standard for intentionally Christian organizations. I am also confused by Mike’s idea here. Is a person not allowed to stop giving to a charity based on moral reasons? What if WV had decided to hire Hindus? Christianity calls that a sin, whereas not only is it legal in our culture, it is perfectly acceptable (more so in both cases that homosexual marriage). Now one could certainly make a case that the tone and approach of many was unhelpful (as is, unfortunately, often the case), but that is not what I took away from the article.

      • Peace From The Fringes says:

        “What if WV had decided to hire Hindus? Christianity calls that a sin…” It does? Really? I don’t remember that part. To what are you referring, specifically?

      • It’s a sin to hire Hindus???

      • Sorry; poorly worded. Not the hiring, worshipping false gods.

        • Peace From The Fringes says:

          Personally, I think we are all worshiping the same God, regardless of name. But that’s just part of the fun of being me!

          • I understand your perspective; I am asking questions because I would like to understand better. I appreciate Mike and enjoy his writing, but I just don’t understand this one. It sounds like Mike is saying that we have an ethical obligation to support (or perhaps continue supporting) a charity, even if it goes against one’s ethics. I can’t make sense of this, and not just for Christians and not just for WV. Maybe I am misunderstanding, or maybe I haven’t thought this through very well; hence the questions. I use the example of hiring a Hindu because it is an example that is not a reductio ad absurdum. It is actually the case that WV will not hire Hindus, and I think we all expect this of a Christian organization. So at what point are we allowed to say, “I appreciate the work you do, but you are promoting values that I cannot support, so I am putting my money elsewhere”?

          • “It sounds like Mike is saying that we have an ethical obligation to support (or perhaps continue supporting) a charity, even if it goes against one’s ethics.”

            What I am trying to say does not have to do with beginning support. When you choose to begin to give you have every right to make the best judgement that you can using whatever parameters you wish to use to make that decision.

            But when that support involves the life of a child, you don’t turn around and drop your support, because one of the original parameters has been changed. Down the road, sure. When choosing who you are going to give your next bunch of money to, sure. But not when a child’s life is going to be affected.

          • That makes sense Mike. I think that is the approach I would take.

  22. We decide which organizations we give to based on the principles of those organizations. I am stopping my donation to World Vision because I have learned what principles they have.

    The hiring policy is one thing, but the more egregious thing is that they promote contraceptives, including abortifacients, to the people we are sponsoring. This does not help them; it hurts them. We absolutely must make decisions about who to give to based on what they will do with the money, how they think they should help people and whether that is moral or not, etc.

    A change in hiring policy that asserts same-sex “marriage” is moral is a substantial change, one that will eventually filter to the missionaries they hire and what they put forth as Christian principles and family life.

    http://www.devinrose.heroicvirtuecreations.com/blog/2014/03/28/severing-ties-with-world-vision/

    • Ever since their embrace of Rick Santorum, I have seen the contraception issue jump into the evangelical front burner, which is a new slant. And an ironic one, not only due to sex-obsessed mega-sermons, but because evangelicals have never forbidden married sex apart from procreation. So much for consistent moral principle. I used to wonder where all this politicking is coming from, until I read Al Mohler say contraception is an insidious attack on the “gift of procreation to the married couple”. The paradox is that people expect WorldVision to preach the put-an-egg-between-your-knees method – which doesn’t work and creates more babies. But this funding boycott means that international development support will be cut off, not reach the families that are in abject poverty, and make lots more suffering babies. I do international development work and am always scanning the job boards. Have a look at this typical one from WV (excerpt below) , and ask yourself whether Jesus is absent here: https://www.devex.com/en/jobs/children-in-emergencies-coordinator-2785-2

      “We believe that every child is a precious gift to the entire world and that their well-being concerns us all. We will not rest while children suffer in situations that can be changed. We are looking for people who share our beliefs and our passion.”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Ever since their embrace of Rick Santorum, I have seen the contraception issue jump into the evangelical front burner, which is a new slant.

        Before Sanctus Santorum got his 15 minutes of fame as God’s Choice for POTUS (“NOT THE MORMON! NOT THE MORMON!”), “the contraception issue” was some ROMISH thing. Just like Abortion was for several years after Roe v Wade. Whatever those Romanist Papists did, WE True Christians have to do Just the Opposite. No Popery!

        I used to wonder where all this politicking is coming from, until I read Al Mohler say contraception is an insidious attack on the “gift of procreation to the married couple”.

        AKA Quiverfull? Contraception interferes with Outbreeding those Heathen?

      • Ichabod,

        1. Fertility awareness methods exist that are highly effective and inexpensive. Those should be taught. (There are licit reasons to space pregnancies.)

        2. You can’s help suffering babies by killing babies. UNICEF, USAID, and groups like World Vision who work with them promote contraceptives, including abortifacients.

        3. That’s the rub with the job description. It’s not what it says but what it omits. How exactly are you to help children? Or women? Or the needy? That’s where the morals and principles of the organization come in.

        If I think I will help women by sterilizing them (no more suffering babies!), then I will do that, as the UN Population Fund and others have done in collaboration with China.

        World Vision has done many good things. We have sponsored a child for some time, and I am sad to have to write him a letter saying we have to withdraw our support. But I will tell the family why, that what World Vision is doing is contrary to the natural law and the Christian Faith, especially the Catholic Faith that most South Americans have been for generations.

        • Danielle says:

          1. NFP is not as effective as other methods of family planning, particularly not when you are relying on an impoverished woman to get a set of tests and calculations correct.

          2. Your understanding of contraceptive methods being “abortificants” is based on outdated science. Look it up. There used to be some uncertainty on this issue; not anymore.

          3. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that there is a very small risk that a contraceptive will harm a fertilized egg that we don’t know about. The harm done here is far, far smaller than you get by providing no contraceptive information or recommending NFP. Take that route, and unintended pregnancies will go up. The moment these conceptions take place, your body count begins to pile up. First, there’s all the fetuses that will die in spontaneous abortion in the first days or weeks of pregnancy, this happens for many reasons. Then you have the elective abortions some women will get. Then you have the later-term risks to mother and baby, which are higher in the third world than the first. Finally, there are the risks of child birth in the third world to both baby and mother.

          If you are strictly concerned with preventing the suffering of fetuses and babies, you are way out ahead with women using highly reliable forms of birth control, than with them not using these methods.

          Your position may make sense if you are worried about Roman Catholic restrictions. But if you want to cut directly to the problem of “how many dead babies are here,” your concerns are misplaced.

        • SottoVoce says:

          Do as you will. But, please, do not be so cruel as to tell a hungry child that conscience compels you to deprive him of his daily bread. It would be kinder to say nothing and let him draw his own conclusions.

        • Clay Crouch says:

          “But I will tell the family why, that what World Vision is doing is contrary to the natural law and the Christian Faith, especially the Catholic Faith that most South Americans have been for generations.”

          Gnat, meet Camel.

    • That’s kind of paternalistic, no? You don’t trust the people you sponsor to make their own decisions re: contraceptives?

  23. So, World Vision “guilts” us into donating with their manipulative TV commercials and print ads and now Mr. Bell “guilts” us for being pissed off that another Christian organization changes it’s standards. A pox on BOTH of you!

    • +1 – Good point Oscar.

      I would like to discuss the statement: “if you won’t pay gays at World Vision to feed starving children, why do you pay gays at the grocery store to feed yourself”. WARNING: STRAWMAN ALERT!!!!

      My local grocery stores are owned & operated by secular corporations, and these grocery stores do not present themselves as a charitable Evangelical Christian organization. My local grocery doesn’t have their employee’s salaries paid by evangelical Christian men & women who send donations to my grocery store. My grocery store was not founded as an evangelical Christian organization that markets itself as an organization run on Biblical values. My local grocery store didn’t make a u-turn and sell out to the secular progressive culture, while receiving salaries from the pockets of evangelicals. However, World Vision did. Perhaps in the name of honesty, we can make a distinction between the World Vision charity & our secular grocery stores? Perhaps?

      I wonder if the leaders at World Vision ever considered that their moves might possibly outrage a large portion of their donors? Did the leaders at World Vision put support of gay marriage ahead of feeding starving children? Oops, I just used a strawman. Wow, that’s fun and easy! 🙂

    • I don’t think the problem is about being pissed off that another Christian Organization has changed its standards. We have every right to be pissed off and to choose in the future to place our money with organizations we agree with. The problem here is that once you have made a commitment to support a child, you don’t punish/cut off that child for the sins of WV. I just don’t see how “taking a moral stand” supersedes the virtue of meeting the needs of your sponsor child.

  24. Richard Hershberger says:

    The New Testament is constantly describing how Jesus and his immediate followers hung out with all the wrong people. It presents a grocery list of every group that a good 1st century Jew was supposed to shun. Ever since, later followers have taken the plain reading of the text to mean that it is OK to hang out with those groups. Should we happen to meet a Samaritan or a Roman centurion, we would consider it our Christian duty to welcome them. But what does this have to do with [insert reviled group here]?

  25. Joseph (the original) says:

    I was a sponsor of a child in Brazil up until the support need was no longer needed. the child’s mother finally found employment in another city where relatives also lived. I was happy to support the child even though I didn’t do all the supra-special (added cost) stuff they promote during birthday’s and Christian Holidays…

    I knew my small support amount was doing some good and I was pleased when I was told the family (mother, daughter, son) was able to become self-sufficient…

    If there was a particularly ‘thorny’ issue (fill-in the blank) I disagreed with, my reaction would have been a series of letters to the upper echelons of the organization expressing my concerns, but I would not have ‘threatened’ to withdraw my current support while communicating those concerns. if I decided not to continue support once my existing support expired, then I would have felt released from a commitment I had faithfully made initially. the knee-jerk response to withdraw support from those unhappy with WV’s decision to accept same-sex married couples was intended only for it’s sensationalism, not for conscience sake. and treating those poor children as some pawn out of principle (they’re just leverage, not a needy person) is about as calloused and heartless as a Christian could imagine. treating those children as ‘unclean’ and undeserving because of actions taken by the supporting organization is appalling and something not even God would do. if the ‘vision’ of an armed criminal or military person using a child as a human shield evokes such a visceral response, then why not this very situation? why is there no cry of outrage over those withdrawing their support and the immediate hardships it caused?

    Lord, have mercy… 🙁

  26. Mike, I very much looked forward to your post. But I must say I am deeply disappointed. I did not expect you to write something with which I would agree, but the way you went about it is not effective. You write,

    “This post is not about homosexuality. This post is not about what the Bible does or does not say about the topic.”

    Mike, any time you write about homosexuality, regardless of your intent and careful use of words, your post will be about homosexuality (same goes for abortion, etc.). It is what it is. But since homosexuality or, more to the point, same-sex marriage, is not what you want commented on here, I will move on to what I think you wanted folks to consider and comment on. Namely,

    “Those who would deprive children of their means of sustenance because of an organization’s hiring policy, while at the same time purchasing their groceries from a store that has similar hiring policies are hypocrites. Hypocrites. Making children suffer because you disagree with World Vision is disgusting. These children simply can’t join another program. They have no options. You are taking away their basic necessities of life: food, clothing, and shelter.”

    Mike, shaming people is not an effective means of proving your point and getting folks to repent (or whatever you want to call it). It may work with the touchy-feely crowd but not with those who balance their affections with cognition resulting in wisdom. No one who comments here, not even those so-called “hypocritical” 2K Evangelicals who withdrew their support from World Vision want to see children starve. Really, why else would they have made contributions to WV in the first place? So, hyperbole, fear mongering and grand standing aside, you have proven nothing about their behavior, intentions, rationale, and certainly nothing about the convictions and values they hold dear which led to their decisions.

    Sorry, Mike; you’re a good writer with a sharp pen (or keyboard, I presume). But you missed it this time.

    PS: I look forward to your next post.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Making a moral assertion is not identical to shaming.

      • Common, Adam, you know better. Words and phrases such as “hypocrites,” used twice in a row, and “making children suffer…taking away their basic necessities of life…” are not a mere “moral assertion”; they are hyperbole, grandstanding, fear mongering, and yes, shaming.

        • Rick Ro. says:

          Again, the rapture must’ve occurred, because I find myself agreeing with Calvin again. (Can I use “again” twice in the same sentence? It seems to work here, but…it also seems awkward.)

          As a (flailing) writer, I know that words are important. Specific words get used for specific purposes. Some words automatically conjure fear and are used to gain a specific emotional response. It’s very much like how Steven Spielberg uses music in his movies – “cue the EMOTIONAL MUSIC NOW, because I want my audience to FEEL something right NOW.” It’s unnecessary; it tells me that Spielberg doesn’t trust his movie to elicit a response, that he feels he needs to make SURE the audience understands that something significant happened.

          Same thing happens in writing. The use of certain words can be used to hit the reader over the head with what the writer wants us to feel. I think in this case the author (Mike B.) could’ve trusted the content to deliver the message, rather than falling back on emotionally charged words.

          That said, to me it’s actually a minor quibble. Loved your piece, Mike Bell!

          • It’s a shame I no longer believe in the rapture.

          • Rick Ro. says:

            LOL. Your comment leads me to an off-tangent wondering…

            So, if a person doesn’t believe in the rapture but God DOES do a rapture, will their disbelief in rapture cause God not to rapture them?

            😉

          • I’ll give Dispensationalists this much… Whether or not one is “taken,” as opposed to being “left behind,” would depends on whether or not one is a believer in Christ, not in Dispensationalism.

            So, if I’m wrong about this I just hope I’m not doing something which necessitates my attention and for which others are depending on me (e.g., driving, holding a ladder, poring someone a glass of wine) and hopefully not if I’m using the bathroom at the time, as that would be embarrassing, even if but for “the twinkling of an eye.”

  27. Ah yes, everything in life is simple. No complexity at all, unless, of course, we are reaching out to the LGBT community and then we must acquiesce to the complexity of the matter because their situation is special and different and complex whereas in the cartoon, and as regards the Christian, everything else is just 2+2, no algebra, no calculus. lol

    BTW, those making “children suffer” are those who decide to depart from their stated theology/philosophy which as representatives of Christ’s body. They are responsible for the loss. They moved and those not moving with them haven’t changed a thing nor causes a thing, they have, whomever it may be in the name of Christ and his church that does such works.

    Really, a simpleton cartoon meme rules the day? A real think tank here.

  28. The first thing that you should be ashamed of is your cartoon. I read many of the 2000 comments on CT and nobody was advocating abandoning starving children. Some made it plain that they would continue to support a child but would no longer give any additional support to WV. Others made it plain that they would support needy children through other faithful Christian groups. Wold Vision does not hold the exclusive monopoly of helping children.

    The cry of those saying, “you are hurting needy WV children” is just as nonsensical as someone crying, “you are hurting all those needy children that Food for the Hungry, and Samaritan’s Purse..etc. are helping because you give to WV instead.”
    http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/love-basics-heresies-divorce-homosexuality-church/

  29. I don’t know why it was this event that more or less became the tipping point for me. But, it really grated my nerves and how I feel about evangelicals and the evangelical community. Mind you this is an anomaly of American Evangelicalism and not the worldwide Evangelical community. American’s obsession with the three H’s: homosexuality, hell, and heresy is seemingly an American-only issue. I believe it is due in most part to its puritanical roots. But, that’s a different issue. Nevertheless, this event has caused me to officially drop the Evangelical label from my identity. This change isn’t a sudden one. It started about 7 years ago when many evangelicals began boycotting certain companies due to homosexual issues. Then, in 2011 when many evangelicals spewed their vitriol while deriding and insulting Rob Bell for his book, Love Wins. It really got bad in the summer of 2012 when the culture war between Chick-fil-A and the LGBT community began. Sadly, I was one of the few Christians in my community who did not go and support Chick-fil-A. My gradual disdain continued during the Duck Dynasty debacle. And, most recently this event at World Vision brought it all to a head for me.

    I’m sorry. And, this deeply saddens me. But, I am done. I’ve traded in my Evangelical card in for my Christian one. I no longer will call myself an Evangelical. I am simply a Christian. Evangelicalism has been hijacked by a cold, dogmatic moralism that I want no part of. I will continue to love my evangelical brothers and sisters, but I cannot in good conscience support their moralistic drivel and angry-spirit. I am not doing this to spite anyone. But, I believe it is a wise decision for myself and for my ministry to those who know Him not.

    Farewell evangelicalism… literally.

    • Evangelicalism is 1) not the only Christian tradition which holds these views on same-sex marriage, and 2) not monolithic in this respect.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        >Evangelicalism is 1) not the only Christian tradition which holds these views
        > on same-sex marriage,

        No, it is not. But it is the loudest, meanest, and most vociferous in imposing these beliefes on other people. Method and tone matters.

        > and 2) not monolithic in this respect.

        No, here I think you are mistaken. Maybe this was once true, but the fight is drawing to a close and the borders have been drawn. Some do not yet acknowledge the new map.

      • Agree with your two points. But, what separates Evangelicalism from the other Christian traditions is how they go about dealing with these issues. That’s what the turn-off is. There are more Christ-like ways of dealing with these issues than what the Evangelical community has historically displayed.

        • Adam, I understand your disdain for Evangelicalism, but please keep things in perspective. Yes, Evangelicalism is the loudest, but not unique in this respect. And no, it is not monolithic as there are Evangelical voices (in the minority, mind you, but growing all the same) which are not in tune with the rest.

          And by the way, ranting is not a good way to prove a point.

        • Greg, what you see as a turn-off is a turn-on for others. Opinions vary.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      American’s obsession with the three H’s: homosexuality, hell, and heresy is seemingly an American-only issue.

      Never heard it put that way, but It’s A Good Line.

      • I would argue that obsession with hell and heresy was much more intense during the Middle Ages, waning with the Enlightenment. Homosexuality as a public issue is a recent thing.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          It was always a taboo, but not THE! WORST! POSSIBLE! TABOO!

          This morning, drive-time radio did a short commentary on the World Vision situation. How WV had come to their original decision after several years of trying to figure out what to do (and the tsunami of Christians against them sure didn’t put that much time or energy into deciding to attack WV for that decision). He finished his commentary with “All the churches are going to have to deal with this issue, one way or another. And why do Christians get the spotlight for being so against it? Have you ever talked to a Conservative Muslim or Orthodox Jew about same-sex marriage? It’s such a major taboo for them, they don’t even joke about it! Just a hard NO!!!!!!”

        • In recent years there has been a resurgence of these issues since the Middle Ages. Even 25 years ago we weren’t talking about the three H’s as we are now. You raise a good point though. I would add that Enlightenment thinking lies at the root of much of today’s American Evangelicalism, with its thirst for knowledge rather than the experiential.

  30. David Cornwell says:

    Thanks for this excellent post. The legal fundamentalist mindset has responded as expected. As always its about following the rules, regulations, people and organizations on the “approved” list, over against the “hit list” and “black list.” As everyone know in fundy circles, homosexuals are the chief of sinners. Nothing has changed in thirty years.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      We always reserve our Righteous Godly Wrath for those sins we have NO chance of ever committing.

      And Homosexuals are just the ultimate Other.

      • HUG, the identity of the ultimate Other changes, but his presence is essential.

        In his highly interesting book “Anti-Judaism,” David Nirenberg observed that even Luther and Erasmus agreed that “if hatred of Jews makes the Christian, then we are plenty Christian.” Easy to see what makes American evangelicals “plenty Christian” these days.

      • David Cornwell says:

        ” sins we have NO chance of ever committing.”

        I wonder about this however. I wonder if there isn’t a lot of hypocrisy about never having this particular terrible temptation. The loudest “nays” at times are hiding something. In fact recent history points in this direction.

        I am a strong believer in Christians being those who practice the fruits of the Spirit, enhanced by the classic virtues as outlined by Thomas Aquinas. However this negativism,lawmaking, and finger pointing seems to be so much the opposite of sanctifying grace.

        When the Boy Scouts of America were rocked with the child molestation scandals that they managed to hide in secret files for so many years, I did not hear of a mass exodus of evangelicals over this issue. Could it be that some of these people were involved in the hiding? These files had to be dug out by the court system under force of law. Hmmn.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I wonder about this however. I wonder if there isn’t a lot of hypocrisy about never having this particular terrible temptation. The loudest “nays” at times are hiding something. In fact recent history points in this direction.

          You talking Ted Haggard as an example?

  31. Insider information, apparently:

    “I’m not going to recount the facts. Others have done that. I’m going to tell you what I know from unnamed sources inside the World Vision headquarters and I’m going to opinionate about what this means for the state of Christianity in America, especially in regards to GLBT issues.”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2014/03/27/lets-talk-about-what-happened-yesterday-at-world-vision/

  32. Mike, the situation isn’t nearly as simple as you draw out here.

    First of all, I’m willing to wager that most of the people who pulled their support are not trying to cause children to suffer. Most of them have been loyal supporters of the poor, and to throw them under the bus as if they didn’t give a damn is disingenuous. Many would have continued to leverage their resources to help those in need through other organizations. These are giving people who care, not hypocrites bent on inflicting pain. These “Evangelicals” are objectively known to be disproportionately generous with their donations to charitable causes. They have put their money where their mouths are, and do not deserve to be thrown under the bus merely because they believe an organization bearing the name of Christ has crossed the line.

    Second of all, the hiring of homosexuals is not merely a civil rights issue. It is an ecclesial issue, a harmitological issue, and a soteriological issue as well. Here’s why: As an explicitly Christian organization, World Vision (like many other Christian organizations) hires specifically people who are Christians, exclusively. This leaves them in the situation of determining who is or is not a Christian. This is an unfortunate task for an organization to be stuck with (it is better left to Pastors and those who draw the lines of fellowship within the context of congregations and church traditions), and it is a decent argument against the idea of even having Christian charitable organizations like this when a secular organization (many of which were even founded by Christians) might actually meet the humanitarian needs more efficiently. The idea of having a Christian organization do the work they do is that with the free food comes the Gospel message. But sometimes I wonder if it isn’t better to just have the aid organization do the aid, with believers and unbelievers working together for a common goal, and let the Churches send missionaries (who can help with such organizations!) to address spiritual needs.

    But anyways, once you have this system, where World Vision has to filter it’s potential employees for unbelievers, anybody who has gone through similar employment process knows the drill. You have to sign to a certain statement of faith that assures you’re not a Jehovah’s Wittness, Arian, or Buddhist. Then you have to agree to abide the teachings of Christianity, and live above reproach in terms of morality, especially sexual morality.

    Organizations that pursue this method will often dismiss employees who are sexually promiscuous. Such behavior is incompatible with Christian faith, and indicates a lack of sincere belief (unless it can be determined it is a sin of weakness an the repentant offender is willing to work towards recovery).

    Throughout the New Testament, issues of sexuality are treated with specific harshness in terms of church fellowship. A Christian church is not permitted to treat someone living in open sexual immorality as a bona fide disciple of Christ. You cannot claim the name of Christ and reject His teaching and that of the Apostles and church he founded. If you want to argue a new interpretation of Christ’s teaching, recognize that your spin is in fact new, comes from an ulterior motive, and will not be adopted by Christ’s church. We believe that the unrepentant sinner has no part of Christ, and it is our duty, as those who hold to Christ, to be clear about this. The hiring of homosexuals in committed relationships/marriages, in an organization which claims exclusively Christian employees, is a contradiction of this.

    There is no way in hell the response actually surprised the leadership of World Vision. You know it, I know it, and the American people know it: Any dolt off the street could have predicted this was going to happen. So I ask you, where does the blame truly lie? The supporters of World Vision who stick to their guns, or the leadership who flips to please a vocal minority and then flips back to protect the bottom line? I will not say for sure, but I do know this: If World Vision continues wants to deliberately alienate their support base for a cause they believe in, they shouldn’t complain about the cost they agreed to pay. Starving children is not a fair price for the progressive agenda, but Christians honoring 2000 years of consistent tradition and teaching know they don’t have to choose between them. Perhaps the solution is that World Vision ought not only hire Christians. Perhaps the solution is that it should stick to feeding the hungry and let the Churches bring the Gospel. Perhaps the reality is that an institution claiming the name of Christ should not be so surprised when it is held accountable by His church.

    Note, this entire argument is premised on the idea that IF World Vision hires exclusively Christian employees, then the hiring of married/committed gays implies that such practices are compatible with Christianity. The Church disagrees and calls this false teaching. We are not against married homosexuals having jobs, nice jobs, good paying jobs, or even doing charity work, and to paint us that way is neither honest nor fair. I’d personally rather that World Vision not require all their employees to be Christian, but I can understand how that might interfere with the spiritual aspect of their mission.

    • Amen!

    • Miguel, I find myself in total agreement with you! Did the rapture take place? Seriously, you hit the nail right on the head and drove it in with a single blow!

      The issue is that WV states that they are a Christian para church organization which requires both doctrinal and moral adherence from its employees. If such an organization then turns around and makes an allowance for a practice clearly perceived by most Evangelicals as forbidden in Scripture, then no one should be surprised by the reaction it would receive.

      I would also agree with you that the WV board knew ahead of time what the reaction would be. How could they not given Evangelical (their support base) sensibilities on this volatile issue? The only other explanations is that IQs dropped sharply at WV only to rebound 48 hours later!

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > I would also agree with you that the WV board knew ahead of time what the reaction would be.

        I agree, if they did not see this coming who they need to fire is their advisers. But why?

        I suppose I fall back on “never explain via malevolence what can be explained by incompetence”, … but what a staggering level of incompetence.

      • Yes, the rapture must’ve occurred, because I find myself agreeing with you, Calvin!

        ->”How could they not given Evangelical (their support base) sensibilities on this volatile issue? The only other explanations is that IQs dropped sharply at WV only to rebound 48 hours later!”

        It is baffling that they didn’t know or anticipate how their base of support would react. Maybe they’ll do a quick survey of their supporters before they make a big decision like this again, eh?

        • Yes, I wonder what these guys are up to. Well, we’ll see soon enough what their next move will be. I’ll say this, their reversal statement appeared sincere.

    • Joseph (the original) says:

      Miguel: I think you accurately point out the rock-and-hard-place any self-professing Christian company/organization is in when dealing with cultural war issues. It’s uncomfortable for them as well as their supporters/customers and the employees too…

      I understand the element of sexuality as being not only a hot-button topic, but also a high profile one that orthodox Christianity has been dealing with for 2000 years. And what of the requirements of Christian organizations that do have hiring standards that have to be accepted (on paper anyway) as condition for employment? I suppose WV could make some bold statement about not allowing divorced people, or those women that have had abortions, those that are overweight or those that smoke, drink, chew or vote Democrat. It’s tough trying to set up employment standards that mirror the rather broad moral issues that are immovable, or those that considered disputable matters…

      If I understand correctly from Mike’s post, the Canadian WV hiring policy has been rather, well, ‘open’ for the past 15 years as contrasted with the American WV hiring policy. The outcry from those sponsors of the American WV regarding the hiring policy posturing seems, well, rather silly in this context, no? Moral conviction and adherence to orthodox ‘traditions’ truly end at the northern border? Those Canadians and their so-called progressive outlook of no consequence to the argument here in America? I would think those that held such a strong conviction against same-sex married Christian couples being employed by WV would be a universal conviction, right? Not simply a national perspective? The issue being highlighted here is the trend of American cultural warfare trumping how the rest of the world handles the same issue. Now, to be fair, I’m sure there are some Canadian Christians that choose not to lend their support to WV because of the same-sex couple hiring condition. It would be interesting to get their opinion about such personal convictions. Do they blog about it? Have petitions? Hold rallies? Seminars? Boycotts? Do you personally consider the Canadian WV organization as violating Christian principle because of their hiring practices?

      Are Canadian Christians impacted by national policies/politics in such a way as to permit such a hiring concession on the part of WV in their country? And do you feel America is the last holdout for stemming the tide of such cultural contamination regarding the moral stances being championed here?

      I do appreciate the points you made about WV America knowing the decisions it made would be highly volatile. And I also agree there should be a division between charitable actions vs. being a missionary, gospel sharing organization. Having to tiptoe along a moral tightrope while trying to help the disadvantaged in the name of Christ could be unnecessary and only stirs up discord, causes distractions, wastes time, energy, finances, etc. I hope the dust settles soon and the work of supporting needy children throughout the world continues uninterrupted by cultural war distractions…

      • Joseph:

        WV of Canada has probably never been vocal about this or sent out a press release to their supporters. This does not mean that Christians in this country would not react one way or the other.

        • Actually World Vision Canada says they don’t discriminate because it is the law in Canada.

          • Joseph (the original) says:

            Michael: Is there any statistic indicating the percentage of same-sex married couples currently employed by Canadian WV? And what would that percentage be here in America I wonder…

            Such a small percentage impacting a very significant number of needy children seems to be a foolish hill to withhold financial support from…

            But then that is the funny thing about the culture war fallout here in America…the collateral damage is far greater than any supposed victory gained…

            Lord, have mercy… 🙁

          • Maybe not quite true Mike.
            Religious non-profits (such as churches) are not required to hire people in same sex marriages. I can’t say what the case is for WV

          • If you are a religious group serving your own members or community, you can descriminate, if you are serving a broader community you cannot.

            However there have been court cases that have been inconsistent in their rulings on the matter. the actual application of the law is not quite black and white. WV has chosen to interpret it one way. Christian Horizons (for example) another way. Christians Horizons was taken to court and the ruling was pretty wishy washy.

        • Joseph (the original) says:

          Ken: Maybe we can help clarify the issue this way by putting the American shoe on the Canadian foot…

          Theoretical Scenario: Let’s say the Canadian WV announces after 15 years they will not accept same-sex married couples for employment (regardless of current national policy). There is a similar reaction from 2000 sponsors making it known they are withdrawing their support because of the policy change. But they do so quietly and do not threaten to end current support; they will wait until their current commitments are complete and simply choose not to rejoin later…

          Or, the 2000 publically make an outcry against the so-called backwards, barbarian, inhumane, regressive, homophobic decision as to merit national attention. And we don’t know if they choose to continue with their current support or simply stop all monthly payments right then and there…

          Or, the 2000 simply quit paying their support after letting the organization of their personal convictions…

          If the response to any of these scenarios was a wringing of hands regarding the moral convictions of individuals regarding same-sex marriage and not, “what about the children?”, then I would say such religion is useless…

          If one child was compromised at all, which I would not think WV America or Canada would let happen without them covering all immediate shortfalls sacrificially, then is such political/cultural posturings of any import to Christians? Should we first make sure there is no outcry about the repercussions of such machinations if a child’s welfare is at stake?

          Of course, there could have been an immediate response of 2000 new supporters suddenly signing up with American WV to cover the loss. I mean, if there were any real sense of the issue being that important to those thinking a same-sex married couple hiring policy is truly progressive and what Jesus would do, shouldn’t they have made such a counterpoint effort to make sure any child was never going to go hungry tonite???

          {sigh}

          It seems the entire fiasco only gives the Christian community a black-eye in the eyes of non-Christians everywhere. And who were the ones that could really suffer from the backlash???

          Heaven forbid… 🙁

          • Danielle says:

            “Of course, there could have been an immediate response of 2000 new supporters suddenly signing up with American WV to cover the loss. I mean, if there were any real sense of the issue being that important to those thinking a same-sex married couple hiring policy is truly progressive and what Jesus would do, shouldn’t they have made such a counterpoint effort to make sure any child was never going to go hungry tonite???”

            Just as an aside, a lot of people did up their support, make one time gifts, or become entirely new donors in the hours that followed.

            More were planning to, and hadn’t gotten to it yet. I knew I was among those who was thinking of making a special gift, because I expected they’d lose some funds.

            I can’t speak for anyone else, but I didn’t imagine the response would be quite so ferocious or voluminous, or that a reversal would be considered to rapidly, and be so complete.

        • Ken:

          From World Vision Canada Hiring Practices:

          “In Canada, employment and hiring practices are included in laws at the provincial level. It includes prohibitions on discrimination on human rights grounds, including sexual orientation. As a Christian faith-based organization, we want to make sure we balance our Christian identity with our legal obligations.”

          If a charity doesn’t accept the federal Charter of Rights and doesn’t approve of various provincial labour laws, then they don’t have to set up in Canada. Franklin Graham’s Samaritans Purse states that employment applicants have to adhere to the statement of faith, (as does World Vision) Samaritan’s Purse Canada has 52 million dollars in revenue coming in – do you honestly think even Grahams group is going to sacrifice that? You don’t see Graham romping around Canada yapping about same sex marriage, he saves that rhetoric for the US.

          • Bene:
            This is an issue that impacts churches, because they are also considered as charities.

            Our lawyer has advised us that we have to be fairly careful from the onset, and it seems we can insist on traditional marriage. I am not sure that it is codified in any law.

            My own belief is that that wall of protection will either be established through court cases or torn down. It is only a matter of time. And at that point churches will have to decide how important their tax exempt status is.

    • Thanks, Miguel.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Yeah, this is an angle worth exploring, Miguel; thanks for sharing this.

      Not only am I concerned that they were surprised; I’m a little surprised that they weren’t prepared. Shouldn’t someone have come up with, at the very least, a PR/marketing plan for how they can cull additional support and funding in the wake of the millions of dollars of support they would certainly expect to lose? How could they not have that in place?

      Sure, I’m not happy that they vacillated this easily on this issue. But now I’m getting the impression that WorldVision is more guilty of gross incompetence than simple marginalization of potential LGBT employees.

    • Strongly agree with the last line. I think for the very reasons coming to light in this controversy, it’s better to allow anyone who is willing to help be involved in the charitable work, and keep missionary work set aside with more specialized personnel. Like, I have always thought it was absurd that to even push a broom at the local evangelical college, you have to sign a doctrinal statement. Surely there are some agnostic, Buddhist, Catholic, and mainline Protestant workers who could clean the place up without causing some kind of theological schism.

  33. Thanks for this informative post. The Pharisaic postmodern mindset has responded as expected. As always its about following the cultural zeitgeist with its rules, regulations, people and organizations on the ‘approved’ list, over against the Scripture. (cf St. Matthew 15:9). As everyone in liberal Christian circles knows, those who take the Bible seriously are the chief of sinners. Nothing has changed in thirty years.

    Great job advancing the conversation on this issue as always, fellows!

  34. It’s always the pelvic issues that get Evangelicals in a twist and bring out the righteous crusaders. It’s really getting old. Especially when many, many sins, even systemic and widespread ones, get a pass.

    Greed, gluttony, abuse of power, oppression, abuse, violence. These barely move the needle.

    If they think those of us watching this circus from a (increasingly great) distance don’t see through this, they are nuts. Or maybe they just don’t care.

    • ->”Greed, gluttony, abuse of power, oppression, abuse, violence. These barely move the needle.”

      Amen, John. A few friends of mine and I at my church often “battle” over the homosexuality issue. I know a couple of them periodically approach our pastor with, “Why don’t you preach against homosexuality?” When they ask me why I don’t have a problem with our pastor’s unwillingness to tackle that issue, I just fire back with, “Why aren’t you asking to preach against gluttony, greed, lust, offense, jealousy, adultery (Jesus’ definition)? Probably because those hit too close to home, eh? Easier to preach against the sin none of us have!”

      That’s why I just love Jesus’ “don’t point at the splinter in someone else’s eye while you ignore the log in yours.” “I’m not a homosexual, preach against them, brother,” is nothing more than hypocrisy in church-form.

    • …pelvic issues that get Evangelicals in a twist. Greed, gluttony, abuse of power, oppression, abuse, violence

      “Pelvic issues” strike very close to the center of our personhood. “Greed, gluttony, abuse of power, oppression, abuse, violence”, et.al. are fun enough in their own right, but they also have their “pelvic angle”. How many [male] men would seek money or power if those things didn’t come with a get-out-of-monogamy-free card with multiple attractive women?

      Someone said above that sex money and power were the modern trinity. He spoke wiser than he knew., I think this diabolical trinity is somewhat consubstantial as well.

      I have nothing to add to what Miguel said above. It should have ended all argument.

      • PS – I don’t care for The Naked Pastor either. I’m tired of attempts at being making me feel guilty of being a straight white Christian male like it was some kind of original sin. I yam what I yam and thats all what I yam. Mr. Hayward never gets me to reflect on my behavior.

        Coffee With Jesus always hits some sore spots.

        • I’m not a “SWM” so to speak but I find the Naked Pastor’s cartoons obnoxious and over the top too. Whenever I encounter one online I feel like Krazy Kat, because they’re always about as subtle and gracious as a brick to the face. And they are loaded with false dichotomies (like this one), black and white thinking, and foreclosed conclusions. Being such a rhetorical and logical mess, they rely entirely on my very least favorite thing in the whole world to twist your arm into agreeing–emotional blackmail. Feh.

        • Radagast says:

          Agreed… both…

          Mule…Original Sin, doesn’t that translate into original guilt in EO language ; )

          Krazy Kat – haven’t thought about that cartoon in ages….

          Tired of the push it down my throat tactics too.

      • David Cornwell says:

        “Someone said above that sex money and power were the modern trinity.”

        And somewhat the basis for modern paganism.

      • Mule, I wouldn’t have put it quite the way that you did, but I agree with your basic point. Sins often overlap, and one kind often leads to another. Once people cross one line, the next becomes easier. I get all that. It doesn’t change my point about what evangelicals are reacting to or why. The issues that are on their face and primarily pelvic still get the biggest response. Those that are primarily other than pelvic get less.

    • My, how original you are! What will you say next? Something about shellfish? Ooo I can hardly wait! Positively giddy at the prospect of hearing your devastatingly logical, non-fallacious and well studied opinions on this subject. Meanwhile, I will be busy attending my Gluttony Rights Campaign committee meeting where we will discuss how gluttony within lifelong, monogamous Italian eateries is actually a OK with God because you see it’s a matter of interpretation. Also we plan to sue any restaurant owner who refuses to feed us that 17th slice of cobbler. Don’t even get us started on those hateful doctors who tell us we are “unhealthy.” Come on, man. Eating a ton of food is just who we are. It’s a way to be. Jesus ate with us and never would have dreamed of telling us to chAnge our behavior! How could you ever do that to someone you LOVE. Love = unquestioning acceptance, obviously dude!

  35. One of the questions this whole issue raises for me is whether perhaps people have forgotten the true nature of a gift. If it is conditional, or has strings attached, is it really a gift? Or is it an exchange, a barter of sorts: I give and what I get back is certain behaviors that align with my expectations.

    I know this is not uncommon (e.g. a lot of grants have conditions), but I do honestly wonder if it’s what we’re supposed to do as Christians, and whether it is reflective of the behavior of Jesus. It would be an interesting discussion to pursue at some point because I think it’s a contributing factor in this whole situation.

  36. Vega Magnus says:

    Starving people get fed. Does it really matter if the people who are helping to feed said starving people are gay or straight? Seems like the end justifies the means to me.

    • “The end justifies the means.” I urge caution with that statement as it can take us places we never intended to go and would rather not go. I believe it was one of Che Guevara’s favorite refrains, used as justification for the execution–sans trial–of former Cuban President Fulgencio Batista’s cronies. I have no doubt that many of those who were executed were guilty of some heinous crime, but doesn’t everyone deserve a fair trial? At any rate, everyone’s right to a fair trial by a jury of their peers and with an attorney was one of the first things I learned not long after stepping of the plane in Miami.

      Perhaps a better way to put it would be, “The end validates the means,” meaning that if the results are good then the means are probably good, and conversely, if the results suck then the means probably suck, either due to faulty process or design.

      So, it doesn’t matter to me if the means of feeding those who are starving is by way of straight people or gay people or whoever people. Even Mother Theresa accepted money from the Mafia at least once to help the poor in Calcutta. She said, “It is not the practice of the church to ask donors where their donations come from. Our duty is to make sure that all donations go to the poorest of the poor.” I agree.

      I caution that none of this proves or disproves anything with regards World Vision and their flip-flopping on hiring legally married same-sex couples, for WV will continue serving poor children even if in a somewhat diminished capacity. Nor does it vindicate nor condemn those who withdrew their support from World Vision, for they are likely to continue supporting poor children, albeit by way of an agency more to their liking–and thereby making up the difference. Either way, “starving people get fed.”

      • Vega Magnus says:

        I know it does not prove or disprove either side. That’s the point. Whether WV hires gay people or not has no impact on the effectiveness of what they do. Hence, their position on the matter should not have an impact on whether or not a person gives through them IMO.

        • I understand your point. It’s a very good point. But the donors who disagree with WV’s policy shouldn’t be chastised for giving through a different agency. They would argue that a Christian organization should uphold good Christian morals and that those morals are violated by the hiring of people in a same-sex relationship. The fact that a state may recognize the relationship as a legal marriage is of little consequence. States also recognize abortion on demand and that, too, is a violation of God’s law in their minds–and mine too, BTW.

          So, WV is free to do as they please and donors are free to donate to whomever they wish based. A donor is no less wrong or right for giving to WV that s/he is for ceasing to give to WV and donating elsewhere.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “The end justifies the means.” I urge caution with that statement as it can take us places we never intended to go and would rather not go. I believe it was one of Che Guevara’s favorite refrains, used as justification for the execution–sans trial–of former Cuban President Fulgencio Batista’s cronies.

        In this, Comrades Fidel & Che (who is still Tres Chic among trust fund rich kiddies mad at Mommy & Daddy) are following in the footsteps of two generations of Revolutions: The French Revolution, father of the First Russian Revolution and grandfather of the Cuban Revolution.

        Citizen Robespierre, whose “Republique of Perfect Virtue” beckoned from the far side of the “Regrettable but Necessary” Reign of Terror. A Cause so Righteous it justified any means to bring it about — the Perfect State, the Perfect Society, the Perfect Utopian omelet that always reguired breaking more and more eggs (like you and me). And spawned two centuries of Utopian Revolutions, from Paris to Phnom Penh.

  37. The lack of charity in assessing people’s motives is most striking, here. The assumption that anyone who pulled their funds from WV, either at the time of decision one or the time of decision two, is unwarranted and cynical. It’s reasonable to move your funding from one non-profit to another when the first one shows signs of what you consider to be poor decision-making. If a specific child goes hungry because of that decision, that is on WV, not the donors–there should already be mechanisms in place to continue providing for someone who is in the program in the event of the donor dying, being laid off from work, declaring bankruptcy, failing to renew at the end of the year, etc. If they are halfway competent they should have rainy day funds to dip into, and then they should start cutting hours and salaries in the office until they can come up with a long-term plan, if it gets bad enough.

    Freaking out at people for deciding to send their charitable dollars elsewhere is ridiculous, though.

    Let’s say Jill has budgeted to give $50 to hunger causes every month. She knows it’s not a ton of money, so she wants to make sure every dollar is being used responsibly and effectively and she does a lot of research into agencies until she finds one that matches her standards for efficiency and ethics. She picks Bob’s Hunger Fighters for her donation. One day, she gets a notice in the mail that Bob’s is planning to expand into alpaca rescue as well as serving the hungry. She thinks this is a sign of poor decision making, and Bob’s assertion that “alpacas are people too!” makes her wary that maybe some kind of animal rights slant is going to take the organization in a troubling direction. She foresees a waste of her funds as Bob’s organization loses donors and efficiency. She pulls her funds and moves them to Jack’s All-Purpose Food Aid instead.

    Take out the whole ZOMGZ TEH GHEY!! hysteria and you can see how this was not miserly or cruel at all, but a reasonable decision that she had every right to make, and that the hungry are not going to go without her charity just because she lost faith in one specific organization.

  38. Excellent post and comments.

    I have often been ashamed of those calling themselves Christians who spout the most vile hatred at others, even other Christians over (insert pet peeve here).

    Whether it’s homosexuality, politics, doctrine, race, denomination, gender…etc etc as a flock we are very good at being hypocrites and judging others when that is not in our job description.

    We are all-stars at pointing out the sins of other folks yet we do nothing to rectify our own.

    • Maybe you can explain to us how vile hatred has anything to do with the subject at hand, that is, some people withdrawing donations to WV over a stand WV has taken.

  39. I do not believe the narrative represented here has tried at all to understand evangelicals’ reasons for doing what they did. Rather than type a long comment, I will link to something I have already written on this:

    http://baptisttheologian.com/?p=163

    In addition, I should add here that World Vision is not the only means by which evangelicals help the poor. There are numerous other ways to do so. Therefore, it is simply uncharitable to assume that withdrawing support from World Vision entails that one refuses to help the poor in any way.

    • Good article Aaron. Thanks for sharing this.

    • “I do not believe the narrative represented here has tried at all to understand evangelicals’ reasons for doing what they did.”

      That’s the argument you’re going with? On this site? You know, the site for people who are POST Evangelical. Post, as in used to be. And probably have a pretty good understanding of the beliefs they once followed, and the prejudices they once held.

      “it is simply uncharitable to assume that withdrawing support from World Vision entails that one refuses to help the poor in any way.”

      I’m going to clarify something for you, and a number of other posters, who don’t seem to have a good grasp on how one supports World Vision. And obviously couldn’t be bothered to read earlier posts explaining the same thing. Most charitable institutions merely take your money and use it for their various causes. No connection with you the donater except the warm fuzzies one gets from helping others. When you donate to WV, you donate to a specific child. A child whom you communicate with. Who, ideally, you form some sort of relationship with. A large number of people chose to look a specific poverty stricken child in the eye (or through the letter in this case) and say “I’d rather not help you. I’m going to help someone else because the person handing you food, organizing donations, or taking care of your illness might be gay. And that bothers me than your suffering.”

      Of course, you will likely reply, “its World Vision’s fault! They changed their policies and rejected what I consider to be a cornerstone of Christianity.” Which does not change the fact one iota that large numbers of people looked at specific suffering children, children they had spoken with and cared for, and said “no. I won’t help you.”

      • Actually, funds given to World Vision do not go directly to the child. They go into a community pot that is used for all aspects of community development. Corresponding personally with the child is one dimension of the World Vision experience that is individualized, and a very good practice. But again, it is not the only way to help the poor.

        To give an example: what if a person, instead of giving $30 a month to World Vision, gives it to the gospel-centered shelter for women and children that operates right here in my town of Jackson, Tennessee? And furthermore, what if some of the women who benefit from that ministry start going to churches of those evangelicals who support that ministry, so that they get to know one another and invest in one another’s lives? Can we say that one option is better than another? No. There is no law that says we must do it one way rather than another.

        But I will say this: if given the choice to invest in a Christian ministry that clearly adheres to Christian teaching on sexuality vs. one that doesn’t, I know where I want my money to go.

        • I cannot believe that actual grown-ups who pay taxes and make budgets really believe that WV is specifically sending their checks directly to the specific child they are sponsoring, and that if you stop for any reason, they will just say “sorry kid, you’re out of luck, go home.” If they DID work that way, they should have been kicked to the curb years ago for absurd inefficiency and irresponsibility.

        • 1. So what you’re saying is that the child sponsored is rejected; and the child’s family and neighbors as well. Again, someone whose face one has seen. And whom one, ideally, has formed a relationship with. Rejected because their former sponsor couldn’t stomach the idea that someone supporting said child and community was gay.

          3. While the sponsorship money is shared with the child’s community, parts of it go for sponsored child-specific things like school fees.

          2. World Vision allows sponsors to send extra money to specifically benefit their sponsored child. So, once again, many sponsors are helping their child directly. Or refusing to as the case may be.

  40. Crazy Chester says:

    I appreciate Mike Bell’s heartfelt post on his relationship with evangelicalism. I’m guessing that the evangelical community’s response to World Vision’s employment of same sex couples was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back – it was the culmination of a number of episodes over a period of time.

    There was once a time when being an evangelical meant being part of a faith community that valued reason, openmindedness, and moderation. It seems that those are terms that are no longer associated with evangelicalism.

    I wish you peace, Mike Bell.

    • Yup.

    • “”There was once a time when being an evangelical meant being part of a faith community that valued reason, openmindedness, and moderation. It seems that those are terms that are no longer associated with evangelicalism.”

      First, please tell me when that time was. As an amateur Christian historian I am always looking for new, fresh, previously unknown historical facts of the Church. I await your response with bated breath.

      Second, some would argue that Evangelicals were never [your list] and were always and still are the opposite of [your list]. Others at the opposite end of the bias spectrum would argue that Evangelicas are now and have always been [your list]. This biased Calvinist would argue that Evangelicalism is not unlike other traditions in that they are a mixed bag, both now and over time.

      Third, and final, the problem as I see it is that assumptions are made about what is right and what is wrong, then, based on those artificially contrived premises, all sorts of theories are expressed. In this case the theory appears to be that,

      If funds are withdrawn from an organization based on the organization’s change of policy with regards state-sanctioned same-sex marriage, then the donors who withdrew their funds are [opposite of your list].

      Now the hypotheses (everything between the “if” and the “then”) is observably true, but the conclusion (everything which follows “then”) is not because it is no more than a relative value judgment purely based on opinion and biases. And if the conclusion is false, the whole theory is false.

      In conclusion (no pun intended–this time), this whole argument is faulty on may points, not least of which is that assumptions are made about people which cannot be validated as they are opinions based on individual biases in favor of one thing and in opposition to another.

      Then again, if one assumes Scripture to be axiomatic, then in the context of that model it could be successfully argued that donors are correct in taking their donations to a different agency which policies are congruent with Scripture.

      And please don’t get me started on hermeneutics, inerrancy, original intent, blah, blah, blah.

      • Crazy Chester says:

        You might want to start with Molly Worthen’s “Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism.”

        http://www.amazon.com/dp/0199896461/?tag=slatmaga-20

        • If I read every book on print about Evangelicalism I would become poor and go mad. I did follow the link and saw some positive comments on the book. Sounds as though it’s a 20th century history of Evangelicalism. Perhaps I’ll get it on Kindle and put it on queue.

          Still, you did not address any of the points I raised. If you have such convictions as you stated then you should defend them in your own words. I would rather hear from you personally and what you think than read a book with which you might find common ground.

    • Christiane says:

      “There was once a time when being an evangelical meant being part of a faith community that valued reason, openmindedness, and moderation. ”

      I’m sure that there still is a remnant of moderation within the evangelical community of faith,
      but extremist fundamentalism seems to have moved the markers defining words like ‘evangelical’ and ‘Christian’ and now words like ‘reason’, ‘open-mindedness’, and ‘moderation’ don’t have a home within the ‘conservative’ evangelical world. There is a desperate stridency to curb anything that threatens the people who need to be ‘in control’. Conservative fundamentalists feel under siege and under attack, and they are complaining about it greatly. They see themselves as Christianity’s last best hope on the Earth, and the ‘others’ as ‘lost’. Consequentially, this insular mind-set alone puts them into a defensive, exclusive, fearful posture where REAL evangelism (going out into the world to bring Christ) is hampered.
      Sadly, the ‘negativity’ seems to have won the day among evangelicals. For now.

      • Christiane, you are partially right. Still, the the statement that you quote from Crazy Chester must be validated with historical facts, otherwise it’s just a rhetorical rant.

        As an Evangelical pastor I can tell you that there are many, not just a remnant, of reasonable Evangelicals withing the Church. But what one considers reasonable another with opposing views may consider it to be nutty.

        I believe that a large part of the problem is that societal norms are shifting at the speed of light. Consider that less than 20 years DOMA passes the House by a vote of 342-67 and the Senate by a vote of 85–14. Today it would probably pass the House but barely, and it would fail in the Senate. Clinton signed it into law but later changed his mind. Obama was against same-sex marriage at the start of his second term but then changed his mind. Americans of all faiths or no faith likewise opposed same-sex marriage until recently. Does that seem reasonable to you? If so, please explain how so.

        Are you saying that we have learned so much and become so enlightened in the last 20 years that we should redefine a 2,000 year old Christian institution? What is so unreasonable about wanting to keep marriage as defined in Scripture and accepted in most societies world-wide for millennia until the end of the 20th century?

        • Christiane says:

          Thank you for responding. When I grew up, I never heard of ‘homosexuality’ or ‘transvestites’ or ‘gay’ people, and on a trip to New York City World’s Fair in 1964, I saw a group of of people ‘dressed up’ in clothing of the opposite sex, and I didn’t at that time understand what I had seen.

          My own children grew up in a different world. In one generation, my son knew a kid who was gay, and my daughter’s oldest friend (whose mother is MY oldest friend) came out in college, and now lives with her partner on the West Coast. My children don’t have the same sense of ‘oh my gosh’ that I had at a young age. They see their gay friends as ‘friends’ first, as people they have known for a long time, hence there is an acceptance of them without the gay ‘label’ as the primary identity marker.

          I suppose the world hasn’t ‘changed’ so much as what ‘went on’ in the closet in older generations has simply felt a freedom to be open about their situation, and surprisingly, many young people today accept them as they are and don’t put the ‘label’ above the whole person. If anything, bring everything out into the light has got to be something that is better than a percentage of the population hiding their sexuality for fear of . . . of what? rejection ? persecution? denial of employment? being tied to a fence and beaten until death was imminent? . . .

          I just parsing thoughts here, and I have more questions than answers, but I was unable to judge my best friend’s daughter . . . that child grew up with my own child, and she is dear to me, and I want her happiness, and she told her mother that she didn’t ‘choose’ her sexual preference, and I believe her. I believe her because she is who she is . . . a dear person to all who know her. I thank God for Pope Francis, who stands up for the Church’s teachings on marriage, but at the same time refuses to sit in judgment personally on another individual, instead saying ‘Who am I to judge?’ . . .

          well, some thoughts . . . probably not responding to your inquiry very well, but it’s what I can do at this time of night . . .
          God Bless, and thank you for letting me know that there were many more moderate evangelicals out there still. All members of the Body of Christ are needed. None are dispensable. So the good news is appreciated.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Are you saying that we have learned so much and become so enlightened in the last 20 years that we should redefine a 2,000 year old Christian institution?

          Like Trekkies?
          (“We’ve Evolved Beyond All That!”)

    • Ben Carmack says:

      To be evangelical means to hold to the Five Solas of the Reformation, since the Reformers called themselves the first evangelicals. To proclaim the evangel and to be a “gospel believer,” one must have a robust respect for biblical authority and witness, since it is from Scripture alone that we know of Christ and His saving work (as opposed to say, Josephus).

      Naturally, the loose and condescending view towards Scripture and those who take it seriously exhibited by this website will naturally lead out of evangelicalism. In two or three generations, that’ll be denying the Resurrection once the Gay Rights Hate Police decide that a man who rose from the dead was definitely NOT their idea of fabulous.

      • Ben Carmack says:

        Because daggumit, the Resurrection is just so darn HURTFUL and OFFENSIVE. We couldn’t believe in something like that could we?

  41. Just checking: if I’m outraged that the founder of Toms Shoes once spoke at a Focus on the Family event, and so upset that Toms no longer represents my progressive values that I decide not to participate in their buy one / give one business model anymore, will someone say that I am withholding shoes from poor people?
    Will we see an “Ashamed!” post here?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toms_Shoes#Focus_on_the_Family

  42. “While I wouldn’t go as far as Bruce…”

    Well you should. In fact Bruce’s comments were quite restrained.

    Look, it’s common knowledge that TV evangelists are, morally speaking, about on the level of Colombian drug lords. The same basic opportunities and pressures have corrupted other aspects of American (and other anglophone) Protestantism–all those celebrity pastor-authors and such. Searching for an honest man among them is like looking for the proverbial prostitute with a heart of gold. You may get lucky, but membership in the profession is a strong leading indicator of untrustworthiness. And these are your leaders–the people you read, quote, and debate week after week. If they are the prostitutes, then you are their johns.

    Why do they take such extreme positions? Easy–because that gets them media attention, which translates into a market for their products. Moderation, sensible theology, nuance, basic human compassion etc. are not very useful for this purpose. Of course, World Vision (like most such organizations) and its employees have agendas of their own, quite apart from feeding starving Africans, so they are not saints either.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      ->”Of course, World Vision (like most such organizations) and its employees have agendas of their own, quite apart from feeding starving Africans, so they are not saints either.”

      Thank you again, Wexel, for your nuanced and well-researched critique! I love hearing your version of Truth.

      Does anyone else care to jump on Wexel’s grenade this time?

      • Is it really so shocking that people who work for charities (like most organizations) want to keep their jobs, get promoted, etc.? So their stances on such issues is likely to be a matter of expediency rather than principle. No grenade here, just human nature / organizational nature.

    • Stay classy,evangelicals!

    • Clay Crouch says:

      Your cynicism is tiresome and blinding.

  43. It appears World Vision Canada is not alone in its non-discriminatory hiring policies.

    World Vision UK responded to what occurred in the US (news and blog section) with this:

    “World Vision UK does not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation. Individuals are hired and their performance monitored on job-specific criteria only.

    World Vision UK and World Vision USA are part of the World Vision International Partnership which operates in 97 countries. It is a partnership of interdependent national offices, each one has different policies regarding employment practice, in line with local law, culture and customs.

    This Christian partnership comes together with a core humanitarian mission to serve the world’s poorest children as a sign of God’s unconditional love. We serve all people, regardless of their faith, ethnicity, nationality, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

    At WVUK we are saddened by any distraction to our core mission to bring hope to the world’s most vulnerable children.”

    And this from World Vision NZ Facebook:

    “We work under New Zealand legislation and we do not discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. World Vision New Zealand hires on merit and in accordance with New Zealand legislation. We do expect all of our staff to be aligned with our organisational values. Our number one goal is to transform the lives of the most vulnerable children around the world – that is at the forefront of all the work we do. ”

    I have a question.

    With 1100 US employees, does World Vision USA have no gay or lesbian employees? If they have a gay or lesbian employee who marries, are they fired?

  44. this post is no different than reading Team Pyro lambaste arminians and everyone else they hate and dont agree with

  45. World Vision Australia does not discriminate in its hiring practices.

    “World Vision Australia doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in compliance with Australian laws, including equal opportunity legislation.

    Selection criteria for positions recruited is based on skills, knowledge, experience and capability to perform the role. According to World Vision Australia policy and Australian legislation, we do not ask questions about sexual orientation, marriage or lifestyle choices during recruitment interviews.

    The World Vision Australia employee manual sets out that ‘it is unlawful for you to discriminate against a person because of their actual or assumed: … gender, gender identity, lawful sexual activity, sexual orientation.’

    As to my question of gay and lesbians employed by World Vision USA. From Tony Jones at Patheos:
    http://tinyurl.com/k6e99cm

    “My sources at WV know gay people who work there and who have to hide their identities and their partners. Now they will have to continue to live in hiding. If any of them revealed their sexual identities to their supervisors on Tuesday or Wednesday, I expect they’ll be fired. That is tragic and sinful. UPDATE: A WV employee reports that at the staff meeting today, Stearns said that gay and lesbian employees will not be fired and that gay and lesbian Christians are welcome to work at WV. This was met with applause by the assembled staff.”

    So I guess the US employees will only be fired if they marry.

  46. “Gospel of Bondage” might be another relevant Bruce Cockburn song:

    “You read the Bible in your special ways
    You’re fond of quoting certain things it says –
    Mouth full of righteousness and wrath from above
    But when do we hear about forgiveness and love?”

  47. Who was hurt by this withdrawal of donations? The children that World Vision was supporting! How is what these reactionary donors threatened to do any different from abortion–punish the organization by pulling the rug (that is, food, shelter, security, and education) out from under the children? “I can’t deal with the problem, so I’ll take it out on the kid.” Once again, innocent third parties get the shaft.

    • The best answer on this whole page is posted above by ……Miguel says:
      March 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    • Christiane says:

      I left this comment on SBCvoices, regarding my own thoughts about those children. I hope the comment does not get ‘moderated out’, but it at least puts a light back on those children, where right now the main focus seems to be on abandoning support to World Vision in favor of other charitable organizations that ‘play ball’ with the conservative far right. Here is my comment as it appeared on that post:

      “Christiane March 29, 2014 at 2:38 am

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      Are children less worthy of help because the person under whose umbrella they must stand has sinned in some way and been judged?

      something SHOULD trouble people about this situation enough to really think about the true consequences . . . the suffering of innocents . . . and then, the only Christian response is to prevent that suffering, in so far as it is possible to do it

      Why? because that is ‘who we are as Church’, and because
      ‘the Church’ belongs to One for Whom those children are very dear

      Reply”
      – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/three-questions-im-asking-myself-after-world-visions-reversed-decision/#sthash.dPlIB79F.dpuf

  48. I wonder if WV had confessed that they were now hiring people who were quite obese, full of pride, outright liars, had not been baptized, did not give freely: possibly did not love their neighbor: on and on, in other words sinful; what reaction there would have been. Only THAT particular sin counts in the minds of many Christians, as evidenced by the # of responses. I understand that: when we march, protest, over this sin we can thankfully, in our own minds, ignore the others.

    • small, mean, and hurtful is an apt description of your post that is nowhere close to the reality.

      • Are you talking to me, Michael Snow? Iwas being sarcastic, obviously since we are all sinners. But we are still allowed to work for our Lord in a public capacity. I believe that the physicality of gay sex is beyond our acceptance, as CM alluded to in recent post.

    • Hanni I guarantee you people with WV struggle with all of the sins you list. As do you and I. But here’s the difference: We agree with God that these sins we commit are actually sins in His eyes. I’m 25 pounds overweight and struggle with this and a myriad of other sins, including sins I don’t even realize I’m committing. I want to repent of them. I’ve learned that after studying all of Gods Word one has to twist themselves into a pretzel in order to say homosexuality is acceptable in the eyes of God. Yet many want to say that it is and call and paint anyone who disagrees as hateful. This is unfair, especially being brothers and sisters in Christ.

      • I need to clarify that I, personally, have NOT studied all of Scripture but I “stand on the shoulders” of my Pastor and others whom I trust.