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World Vision

April 5, 2014

      

World Vision U.S. Reverses 2 Day Policy Change

On Same-Sex Marriages
 

Part 2

 


Richards Stearns hoped World Vision U.S. would not experience any division over their same-sex marriage hiring policy and risk losing conservative supporters as a result. Speaking in the original interview with Christianity Today, he remarked,

"I don't want to predict the reaction we will get," he said. "I think we've got a very persuasive series of reasons for why we're doing this, and it's my hope that all of our donors and partners will understand it, and will agree with our exhortation to unite around what unites us. But we do know this is an emotional issue in the American church. I'm hoping not to lose supporters over the change. We're hoping that they understand that what we've done is focused on church unity and our mission."1

He didn't expect any outcry among World Vision's 100 country affiliates, since World Vision International allows each country to set its own hiring policies appropriate to its local legal context. 1

Richard Stearns believed that World Vision U.S. could successfully remain neutral on same-sex marriage, and also with other contentious doctrinal issues. 1

"I think you have to be neutral on hundreds of doctrinal issues that could divide an organization like World Vision," he said. "One example: divorce and remarriage. Churches have different opinions on this. We've chosen not to make that a condition of employment at World Vision. "1

Claiming it's not symbolic, but then hoping the policy change would be symbolic about how "we can come together even though we disagree". "We—meaning other Christians —are not the enemy. We have to find ways to come together around our core beliefs to accomplish the mission that Christ has given the church." 1

"I know the Evil One would like nothing better than for World Vision to be hobbled and divided on this issue, so that we lose our focus on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission," said Stearns. "And the board is determined not to let that happen.1

Stearns stated that the Board felt positive about their policy change. Claiming pure motives he reiterated that they had not changed policy because of either outside pressure or to get more revenue. He claimed they made the decision because it "was the right thing to do and it's the right thing to do for unity within the church." 1

But what if World Vision's U.S. supporters did think the policy issue mattered and withdrew support? What then?

Reverse the policy change. It was that simple.

On March 26, 2014, World Vision U.S. abruptly reversed their same-sex marriage hiring policy decision, which was announced a mere 48 hours prior. 2

Richard Stearns and the World Vision U.S. board took immediate heat from conservatives, evangelicals and other supporters. For example:

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Conventions' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, tweeted, "I'm glad Carl Henry didn't live to see this," and then in his blog wrote that, "At stake is the gospel of Jesus Christ" and "World Vision is a good thing to have, unless the world is all you can see."
10

“It’s obvious World Vision doesn’t believe in the Bible: I am sickened,” Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham, said on a Family Research Council radio program. Graham heads the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse and he described the decision as “ungodly.”

The backlash was so strong according to some reports, amidst thousands of calls and emails, over 3000 supporters dropped their sponsorship for children across the globe as reportedly evangelical groups across the country called for a boycott. Which, as was noted in part one, sponsorship dollars are never directly provided to children. Rather the money is used in various ways within a community to eventually help children and their families within that community. Some urged that evangelicals shift their giving to other organizations. According to some, the evangelical church and other pro-family organizations stood against the policy, and included such as the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, the Assemblies of God, and the Southern Baptist Convention and likely others. 13

In Canada, World Vision Canada's Customer Service page and also Church Engagement blog released a statement March 25 which was updated March 27th after the reversal of World Vision's U.S. hiring policy. In the "Letter from World Vision Canada President, Dave Toycen, commenting on World Vision Canada’s hiring practices" he wrote:

"... In light of World Vision United States’ statement Wednesday, March 26 regarding the reversal of their decision to change their hiring practices, ...

Despite the changes in World Vision United States’ hiring policy this week, World Vision Canada’s approach has remained consistent. Canada’s legal environment is quite different from that of the United States. We comply with provincial laws on this matter which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. For example, as part of our hiring and employment, we do not ask questions about sexual orientation, marriage or related issues.

We do ask that our employees sign and follow a code of conduct. That code of conduct, signed every year by each staff person, requires all our staff to behave in a manner that is ethical, legal, and consistent with our values and mission.

As World Vision looks for qualified staff, we’re clear that we are a Christian, faith-based organization. Our mission is to follow Jesus in serving the poor, both in Canada and abroad. We hire staff who see themselves as aligned with our Christian values. We look to Jesus’ example in his care for children and for those facing poverty and injustice as we develop our programs to help children. Our faith motivates us, and prayer and spiritual formation are an important part of our life and work at World Vision.

In our work with the poor, we serve all people, regardless of their religion, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. As our mission statement explains, we strive “to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the kingdom of God...”
 
5
 

According to a Forum Research Inc. 2012 poll, roughly 66% of Canadians support legalized same-sex marriage with 33.6% opposed. Very few Canadians themselves are in a same sex marriage. Those are only about 1.6% of the population. 11

An Ipsos poll in 2013 of residents of 16 countries, suggested 63% of  respondents in Canada were in favour of legalized same-sex marriage and another 13% supported some form of recognition but not marriage. In the U.S. 42% were for legal same-sex marriage, and 23% wanted some other recognition. 12

The federal Civil Marriage Act, caused Canada to become the third  country in the world, and the first country outside Europe, to legalize same-sex marriages nationwide. 14
In a sense World Vision Canada has a policy, albeit unwritten, similar to the one the U.S. office just reversed, except they are able to avoid the issue and any perceived backlash by simply not asking those types of questions. 

It has to do in part with the Governments Hiring policies and both federal and provincial laws. In Canada, employment and hiring practices are included in laws at the provincial level. And federally also, as Dave Toycen noted, laws include prohibitions on discrimination on human rights grounds, and that includes sexual orientation.

Therefore World Vision Canada can and do hire regardless of beliefs in or any of those other listed arenas, including sexual orientation and same-sex marriage/unions, because the Government of Canada redefined marriage to include same-sex unions, July 20, 2005. 14

The federal Civil Marriage Act provided a gender-neutral marriage definition, which allowed same-sex couples equal rights to marry and later included their right to divorce. By 2005, court challenges and decisions had already legalized same-sex marriage in eight out of ten provinces and one of three territories, since 2003. So it becomes a non-issue policy for World Vision Canada, by default. 14

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Churches supporting same-sex marriage vary worldwide but include such as in the U.S.: the United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), Seattle First Baptist, etc.

In Canada that also includes: United Church of Canada, Unitarian Universalist, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), some Lutheran Church, Metropolitan Community Church, some Jewish congregations and some within the Anglican Church; Humanist Association of Canada, World Sikh Organization, etc.  1, 14

Federally and state wide in the U.S., same-sex marriage is now legal in 17 states plus the District of Columbia. [California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state. 1, 16

Their Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, thereby requiring the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages from the states where they are legal.

Federal judges have also struck down bans in Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Michigan, as well as requiring Kentucky to recognize such marriages performed in other states. All six rulings are stayed until the appeals process is complete. Win or lose the secular state is moving to impose this as law, as it already is in Canada, and some other countries. 1

                                               

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From the World Vision U.S. office Press Release March 26, Richard Stearns wrote explaining the reversal of the 48 hour policy and which was now overwhelmingly approved by the board:

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

Sincerely in Christ,

Richard Stearns, President
Jim Beré, Chairman of the World Vision U.S. Board
4

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Forgiveness is something all must deal with in our lives. However some are suggesting that while they can forgive, trust has been broken. And once broken it must be earned back. Many are calling for Richard Stearns and Board members who approved the initial policy change to be fired and a new President and Board brought in.

In the end, while there has been backlash, it may well be just the beginning of the backlash to be felt coming from those who agreed with the hiring policy change to begin with.

Those of the 50 denominations represented as employees, and supporters who will have their say, as well as the pro gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender people and their supporters and lobby groups who have doggedly (and successfully with many) pushed for acceptance of their lifestyles on the rest of society and worldwide. 

And their have been some venomous attacks against 'evangelicals', fundamentalists, 'those bigots' and other hate filled responses from some within those communities, fully believing they abandoned "all those children." Which did not happen. No children receive any money through sponsorship.

However, one board member has resigned because of the policy reversal. Jacquelline Fuller, director of corporate giving for Google, resigned on Friday, March 28 and told the Associated Press she. "disagreed with the decision to exclude gay employees who marry". 18

By 2014, the following countries have now legalized marriage between same-sex couples. Note that many had already allowed same-sex civil unions, common law, registered partnerships etc. since the late 1980/1990's  16

Argentina [opposed by the Catholic Church and evangelical Protestant churches],
Belgium,
Brazil [May, 2013, Brazil’s National Council of Justice ruled allowing national same-sex marriages;  the conservative Social Christian Party has appealed the Council of Justice’s decision to the
Supreme Court.]

Canada, [legal common law unions in 1999, same-sex marriage federal and provincial 2005]
Denmark, [the state church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark is required to allow same-sex couples to marry in churches; but other religious churches can choose]
England and Wales [the law prohibits same-sex weddings within the Church of England, which continues to define marriage as between one man and one woman]
France,
Iceland,
Netherlands
[only opposition in parliament was from the Christian Democratic Party; the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, about 12% of the country’s population, let individual congregations decide to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies or not. Muslim and conservative Christian groups oppose the law]
New Zealand,
Norway
, [resistance from members of the Christian Democratic Party and the Progress Party, as well as a public controversy; the Lutheran-affiliated Church of Norway was split over the issue; Church
of Norway allows clergy to bless same-sex unions]

Portugal,
Scotland
[the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church – oppose same-sex marriage]
South Africa [their highest court ruled that prior marriage laws violated equal rights; legalized, but allows for religious institutions
and civil officers to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages; the traditional monarch of the Zulu people, about one-fifth of the country’s population, maintains that homosexuality is morally wrong.]

Spain, [Vatican, etc oppose.]
Sweden, [The Lutheran-affiliated Church of Sweden, to which roughly three-quarters of all Swedes belong allows it's clergy to officiate]
Uruguay

Mexico is in the process of acceptance and legalizing nationwide.
In 2013 Northern Ireland voted against legalizing same-sex marriage. 16
Many countries are also granting adoption rights to same-sex couples along with the marriage legalization.

As Christians, we are challenged to live for Christ abiding the Word as our standard of belief. Despite the political decisions. If one doesn't agree with these types of things, they simply don't need to be involved with organizations, churches/denominations, para-church groups and so on that do agree with the particular issues. It's all about choice and living to one's beliefs for those who believe Christ.

There's no opting out of that simply because one decides to be "neutral" or be part of an ecumenical organization where the standard of belief and doctrine is based on or swayed by politics or opinion instead of God's Word... There's no Scripture that supplies an opt out clause.

James 3:17-18 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (18) And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

All people we have contact with need to see our love and compassion, and willingness to help others regardless of who they are.

Matthew 25:35-40 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: (36) Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (37) Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? (38) When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? (39) Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? (40) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

That does not mean we must agree with life choices, change our views or definition of sin as the Bible defines it and so on. It doesn't mean that personally we need to change our definition of marriage as we see the Bible defines it, that being between one man and one woman.  That is the issue for many Evangelicals, Fundamentalists and other Christians, nor should anyone feel they should strip those beliefs away from them because they are fully part of who each is as believers in Jesus Christ. People may and can believe what they want to believe, just as Christians have a right to believe what they understand as Truth. We understand that Jesus was very clear:

Matthew 19:4-9 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, (5) And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? (6) Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (7) They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? (8) He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (9) And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.


Laws and attitudes have changed dramatically. For example, adultery and fornication were viewed as wrong and acknowledged as sin by most for many, many years. Federal, provincial and in the U.S. state laws have upheld adultery as actually being against the law, and many still do, although those laws aren't enforced often. Many feel adultery shouldn't be a criminal but personal issue, which should remain as grounds for a divorce, and is grounds for divorce in many jurisdictions. For some, adultery is a clear violation of the contractual obligation between a married couple and evidence of a loss of intimacy and fidelity, but they miss the spiritual and Biblical mandate given by Christ.  Secular ideals and rejection of Jesus Christ and the Bible has allowed for many changes in what is broadly being accepted by people both in Canada, the United States and globally.

As laws are changed we need to remain focused on obedience to Jesus Christ and spreading the Gospel. Jesus said the poor and needy will always be with us, and we have an obligation to help them. Many do help them and others in need and reflect Christ in how they do it. But sometimes the ways chosen to help are not always reflecting obedience to Christ and the sound doctrine within the Scriptures.

James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Titus 3:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

We can feed the poor and help others without compromising our beliefs as we see are found within the Scriptures and as we understand the Scriptures. One does not need to be part of an ecumenical organization, secular or other in order to love others and care for them and do what God has called each believer to.

James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

James 2:14-17 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, (16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (17) Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

 

Previous section:

World Vision U.S. Changes Same-Sex Marriage Hiring Policy
 

 

For more information about World Vision:

World Vision ~ A U.N. Global Vision > http://www.seekgod.ca/worldvision.htm

     >Institute for Global Engagement & Eastern College  http://www.seekgod.ca/global.htm
World Vision Cont. ~ United With Belial >  http://www.seekgod.ca/worldvisioncont.htm
     Global Education > http://www.seekgod.ca/education.htm
     World Vision Board Members > http://www.seekgod.ca/wvboards.htm

 

Source Articles

1. World Vision: Why We're Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages , March 24, 2014
>http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-why-hiring-gay-christians-same-sex-marriage.html
Christianity Today, March, 2014

2. World Vision Reverses Decision To Hire Christians in Same-Sex Marriages March 26, 2014
>http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-reverses-decision-gay-same-sex-marriage.html

3. World Vision, in reversal, won’t hire Christians in same-sex marriages  osted on March 26, 2014 | By Joel Connelly
>http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2014/03/26/world-vision-in-reversal-wont-hire-christians-in-same-sex-marriages/

4. World Vision Press Release > World Vision U.S. Board Reverses Decision
> http://www.worldvision.org/press-release/world-vision-us-board-reverses-decision

5. Letter from World Vision Canada President, Dave Toycen, on World Vision Canada’s hiring practices _ About World Vision.htm
>http://www.worldvision.ca/CUSTOMERSERVICE/Pages/Hiring-Practices.aspx

6. Our Christian identity Responding to World Vision US hiring policy discussion _ World Vision Canada Church Engagement
>http://churches.worldvision.ca/our-christian-identity-responding-to-world-vision-us-hiring-policy-change/

7. Christian Relief Agency World Vision to Hire Married Gay “Christians”
>http://safeguardyoursoul.com/world-vision-to-hire-married-gay-christians/

8. Major Evangelical Charity to Hire Married Gay Christians >
>http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/major-evangelical-charity-hire-married-gay-christians-n61021

9. Christian Group That Flip-Flopped on Gay Marriage Loses Donors >
>http://time.com/41918/christian-group-that-flip-flopped-on-gay-marriage-loses-donors/

10. On World Vision and the Gospel _ Moore to the Point
>http://www.russellmoore.com/2014/03/24/on-world-vision-and-the-gospel/

11. Forum Research Inc >
>http://www.forumresearch.com/forms/News%20Archives/News%20Releases/67741_Canada-wide_-_Federal_LGBT_%28Forum_Research%29_%2820120628%29.pdf

12. Ipsos Global >Same-Sex Marriage (June 2013)
>http://www.ipsos-na.com/download/pr.aspx?id=12795

13. An apology is not enough - World Vision needs to clean house
Bryan Fischer - Guest Columnist > Thursday, March 27, 2014
>http://www.onenewsnow.com/perspectives/bryan-fischer/2014/03/27/an-apology-is-not-enough-world-vision-needs-to-clean-house

14. Same-sex marriage in Canada
>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Canada

15. Where is gay marriage legal?
>http://globalnews.ca/news/609306/where-is-gay-marriage-legal/

16. Gay Marriage Around the World [updated Feb 5, 2014]
>http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/19/gay-marriage-around-the-world-2013/

17. World Vision trims workforce as expenses rise, grants decline :Since 2010, it has laid off 120 U.S. employees, including 52 in Federal Way > By STEVE MAYNARD March 20, 2014 >http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/03/20/3107984/world-vision-trims-workforce-as.html

18. World Vision board member quits over gay marriage hiring ban : Google's Jacqueline Fuller leaves Christian charity's board after it reverses decision to hire workers in same-sex marriages >http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/apr/03/world-vision-board-member-quits-gay-marriage-hiring/print

 

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