Friday, March 28, 2014

Birthday wishes and World Vision, again

Thanks to all for the birthday wishes --- very much appreciated. I'm not big on holidays, general, personal and otherwise --- but it's good to be the beneficiary of best wishes from those who are. I've got to do a better job on the greetings end.

Trying to figure out how many years it's been since the last Christmas cards were sent from here. Maybe this will be the year (maybe I should start now).


Not to obsess about the World Vision debacle or anything, but it was interesting to read a few reports from "insiders" yesterday that shed some light on development of what those uninterested in either Evangelical Christianity or its charitable efforts might perceive as a tempest in a teapot.

Apparently the folks on the World Vision U.S. board and at World Vision U.S. headquarters had been working to implement this minor concession to LGBT employees quietly (generally a mistake) when someone on the board or inside the organization leaked the news to Christianity Today, a conservative publication that views itself as a watchdog. Christianity Today staffers threatened to report the story without World Vision input if input weren't forthcoming. Interviews were given, the publication broke the story and explosions followed.

The outcome was hardly a surprise to LGBT folks and others who have been around for a while, but the rattlesnake nature of Evangelical Christianity seems to have surprised many. Leave it alone, and this end of the faith spectrum can begin to seem almost benign. Stir it up and it bites. And the bite is poison.


The rhetorical violence from the Evangelical community apparently came as a cosiderable shock to many who had been hoping that some sort of reconciliation with more liberal views in the emerging and more progressive church might be possible.

It's unattractive to say "I told you so," but the fact remains that advancing age and the resulting series of funerals is the best hope for redemption of conservative Christianity, just as it is for militant Islam.


It'll be interesting to see how progressives currently involved in World Vision programs react. Many, including me, weren't aware of aspects of the U.S. operation now spread out for all to see. The orthodox Christian pledge required of employees is one thing --- World Vision International employs thousands of non-Christians worldwise, but not in the United States. 

The big percentage of the charity's operating funds (20 percent of a $1 billion budget) that comes from U.S. public funds is another matter. It's perfectly legal to invest public funds in religious enterprises under current faith-based initiatives legislation, but churches chowing down at the public trough still is not a good idea.

Progressives have long been willing to compromise or mute their convictions in the interests of a perceived greater, common good. Evangelicals and fundamentalists now have demonstrated that they're not so willing. The depth of the hatred for LGBT people within the U.S. World Vision base is appalling.

Here's how Desmond Tutu, retired Anglican bishop, put in on Sunday in an interview aired on NPR's "On Being:"

“What a shame, I mean, well really, what a disgrace, that the church of God, in the face of so much suffering in the world, in the face of conflict, of corruption, of all of the awful things, what is our obsession? Our obsession is not ministering to a world that is aching. Our obsession is about sexual orientation. I’m sure that the Lord of this church, looking down at us, must weep, and say, ‘just what did I do wrong now?’ ”


Also: It's useful to know that hiring policies vary from nation to nation so far as World Vision is concerned. World Vision UK, World Vision Canada, World Vision Australia and World Vision New Zealand, among others, do not discriminate on the basis sexual orientation or an orthodox Christian purity oath. World Vision U.S. is poisoning the water.

Here's how World Vision New Zealand puts it: "We are a faith-based organisation but we are not a church. We have a singular focus: the transformation of children’s lives." 

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