Boycott: Evangelicals react to World Vision decision to hire people in gay ‘marriages’
FEDERAL WAY, WA, March 25, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The nearly billion-dollar Christian charity World Vision has reversed its longstanding policy, announcing that it will begin hiring homosexuals in same-sex “marriages” to work for their ministry.
World Vision U.S. President Richard Stearns told Christianity Today on Monday that his board was “overwhelmingly in favor” of the change, though not unanimous.
World Vision, based in the state of Washington, employs more than 1,100 people from more than 50 denominations, some of which now perform same-sex “marriage” ceremonies. “Same-sex marriage has only been a huge issue in the church in the last decade or so,” he said. “There used to be much more unity among churches on this issue, and that's changed."
Employees must still believe the organization's statement of faith and remain chaste before marriage or faithful within “marriage.” The new policy will have no impact on World Vision affiliates in 100 countries around the globe.
The U.S. policy does not mean the group is endorsing gay “marriage,” Stearns said, adding that the group continues to “affirm and support” traditional marriage.
Instead, Stearns couched the new policy in terms of creating Christian “unity” by not focusing on what he considered non-essential issues. “We're an operational arm of the global church, we're not a theological arm of the church,” he said.
The announcement created an immediate backlash among the charity's largely evangelical Christian donor base.
“World Vision maintains that their decision is based on unifying the church – which I find offensive – as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the church,” said Franklin Graham, the president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and leader of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
“My dear friend, Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, would be heartbroken,” Graham said. “He was an evangelist who believed in the inspired Word of God.”
Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, said, “World Vision has abandoned the warning of Paul and compromised the integrity of a ministry financially supported by Christians who regard Scripture as the final authority on the issue.”
“Christians who support World Vision should stop, as should all of the artists and authors who raise money for them,” he emphasized. “There are many other organizations that sponsor children around the world who remain true to the Gospel."
Stearns likened the divide between Christians to controversies over the proper baptismal method, saying eliminating this theological issue would help focus the organization's efforts to promote Christianity. "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,” he said.
"I think we've got a very persuasive series of reasons for why we're doing this,” he added.
But Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, called his rationale “pathetically inadequate.”
“It is ridiculous to argue that World Vision is not taking sides on the issue,” he wrote. “Willingly recognizing same-sex marriage and validating openly homosexual employees in their homosexuality is a grave and tragic act that confirms sinners in their sin” and “will mislead the world about the reality of sin and the urgent need of salvation.”
Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, agreed.
“If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it,” he said. “If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2,000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish.”
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"We’re entering an era where we will see who the evangelicals really are, and by that I mean those who believe in the gospel itself, in all of its truth and all of its grace,” he added. “And many will shrink back.”
He said, "Donor bases come and go. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ stands forever.”
World Vision, Inc.
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