The United States branch of World Vision, the Christian charity whose mission is to feed and care for poor children all over the world, announced today that it has reversed its decision to accept gay job applicants who are in a legal marriage that is recognized by their chosen denomination. The decision comes a mere two days after their decision to accept such people was met with almost universal opposition from conservative Christians, many of whom withdrew their support for the charity and encouraged others to do the same. At the same time, many supporters of LGBT rights stepped up to replace the lost donations by making their own pledges and now these people are left with a bewildering feeling of betrayal and dismay.
Rachel Held Evans, the popular Christian author and Twitter user, who had previously expressed her support for World Vision, released a response today expressing her own sadness about today’s announcement. She also expressed her apologies to those who decided to donate based on her support, taking responsibility for their feelings of hurt now that World Vision has retracted its LGBT acceptance. Nevertheless, she remained positive about the good that the Christian charity does for children and encouraged her followers to continue their donations.
This is in stark contrast to conservative evangelicals who almost universally encouraged their audience to withdraw support for World Vision just a few days ago. Despite the disillusionment of many who feel they were prompted to donate under false pretenses, the reaction from LGBT advocates and supporters has been completely opposite that of evangelicals. World Vision will therefore continue to benefit from their earlier decision, even if it will no longer be their policy.
Russell Moore, the outspoken opponent of LGBT acceptance, hailed this new decision as a good thing. In a recent tweet, he said the decision exhibited “Christlikeness and humility” on the part of the charity’s board. Their statement, according to him, was a paragon of Christian feeling and substance.
In fact, the statement made today by World Vision’s United States branch is completely opposite the tone they had two days ago. While before they were maintaining their emphasis on Christian unity by accepting the decisions of all religious denominations on the issue of gay marriage, they now say that it was not consistent with their support of traditional marriage. They also gave a shout out to critics such as Moore by saying they had failed to get enough input from Christian partners who were vocal in their disagreement with the decision. With their core group of supporters now pacified, the Christian charity seems to want to go back to business as usual where evangelical donors prevailed and were happy.
The statement also expressed sadness over the hurt feelings of evangelical supporters who felt betrayed by their previous acceptance of candidates in recognized gay marriages and hoped that their decision to reverse that policy change will ameliorate those feelings. No mention is made of the feelings of LGBT people and supporters who are now dealing with feelings of betrayal and misrepresentation on the part of World Vision. LGBT people on Twitter have already begun to express their feelings publicly, most following the vein that Rachel Held Evans already started.
Twitter user Benjamin Moberg who runs the blog Registered Runaways which supports LGBT individuals who have religious faith or have been hurt by religious people, tweeted that a gay friend of his had just submitted her application to work for World Vision. She now faces rejection in the face of a dearly held hope. Eliel Cruz who has written about LGBT issues with religion for the Huffington Post and is president of the Intercollegiate Adventist GSA Coalition tweeted that LGBT people are religious refugees, echoing the feeling of rejection that many LGBT people have regarding religion.
World Vision’s decision to not accept gay applicants who are married to their partners has a wide reaching impact on LGBT people of faith who desperately want to have a place in such an amazing charity. There are probably more such stories of excited applicants who have now had their dreams crushed. LGBT people everywhere who were taking hope from World Vision’s announcement two days ago no longer feel happy. Instead, the quick turnaround in their decision emphasizes the feeling of ostracism from religion that they already had. Religious gay people have once again had it shoved in their face that they are not welcome by the religion they believe in.
Nevertheless, World Vision has made its priorities clear and those priorities are not Christian unity as they previously stated. If it was, then they would have done the brave thing and continued to accept gay job applicants in gay marriages. Instead, the principled stance has caved in the face of conservative evangelical opposition, which requires exclusion and rejection of all LGBT people for any group to be a part of its company. World Vision’s decision to reverse their acceptance of gays highlights not only their own weakness to adhere to principle, but the entire conservative evangelical agenda of ostracizing LGBT people.
Opinion By Lydia Webb