October 25, 2014

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March 26, 2014


World Vision Repents

Christianity Today has the full letter...here’s the meat of it:

...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…

Thanks be to God.


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20 comments

Unfortunately, I think it is too late.  The damage has been done.  And the pro-gay agenda forces will now go after them as well for being “homophobic,” demanding withdrawal of government and corporate support.

[1] Posted by Jim the Puritan on 3-26-2014 at 04:10 PM · [top]

My wife and I had been supporters of two children with World Vision since 1999.  I called and cancelled our pledge and our account this morning.  While the person I spoke with on the telephone tried to talk me out of cancelling—saying that they were still just as committed as ever to serving children, etc.—she did not mention any retraction of their change in policy.  If she had done so, it might have made a difference. 

Now, I am afraid it is too late.  World Vision, whose board (as I pointed out on the other thread on Stand Firm) seems to consist more of professional management types than Christian leaders, will have to do more than just issuing this statement to convince me that they are serious about being a Christian organization where the Lord would lead me to contribute.

I am glad World Vision has issued this statement of repentance.  But this is still one sad, sorry mess, which never should have happened in the first place.

I can’t help but draw a comparison with the invitation of Katharine Jefferts Schori to preach at Nashotah House.  If Bp. Salmon rescinded the invitation and issued a statement of repentance now, would it be enough to restore confidence in the leadership?  As a theological conservative, I try to remain hopeful that organizations like World Vision and Nashotah House can be of genuine service to orthodox Christians.  But, once an organization has crossed a line, what does it take to restore the confidence that enables orthodox Christians to become supportive again?  These are the kinds of questions that take lots of prayer.

[2] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 3-26-2014 at 04:41 PM · [top]

Jim the Puritan - Maybe not because I was surprised by how this was not being crowed over by the media (I still am surprised because the “another evangelical organization accepts gay marriage” story is a media favorite).  This suggests that WV deliberately kept the mainstream media out of the loop as much as possible.  And this in turn, makes me suspect that this might have been a trial balloon floated to gauge reaction amongst the evangelical community. 

I am still bewildered by how they sought to justify their position.  I find it completely baffling at how WV’s board could have ever thought that it would end well.  I guess I would agree with John Huffman, who was quoted in CT’s article:

But Huffman called the decision to change the employment policy “unwise” on every front. “It lacks of wisdom in terms of biblical, theological, moral, cultural, and strategic implications to the organization,” he said.

Strategically, it would have alienated many evangelicals, which make up the majority of World Vision supporters. Given that World Vision has kept such a strong evangelical identity, it’s unlikely to attract people from the other side of the fence, said Huffman, who is board chair for Christianity Today and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

In any case, this was a colossal blunder.  I doubt that it will stir the mainstream media into action, if WV’s first announcement didn’t.  This reversal doesn’t fit the media’s talking points.  I do think that this has seriously harmed WV’s credibility amongst evangelicals though.  Great that they changed their minds, but serious questions remain about why they tried to change the policy in the first place.  Simply saying “oops!” isn’t a sufficient answer.

[3] Posted by jamesw on 3-26-2014 at 04:47 PM · [top]

Thanks be to God.

But World Vision is already catching it from both sides now.  Twitter gives a sample of that.

[4] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 3-26-2014 at 05:18 PM · [top]

A small point of encouragement for me is that the apology correctly recognises and takes responsibility for the actual issue - that they acted inconsistently with their stated values and that their supporters partnered with them on the basis of those values.

Takes guts to do that, rather than deflecting the issue or looking for other events to give an excuse to back out of a poor decision. Perhaps a lesson some of our Anglican friends could learn.

[5] Posted by David Ould on 3-26-2014 at 05:20 PM · [top]

This is an apology and retraction which are actually those things, not a weasel-worded “sorry you got upset” sort of thing which we are so used to hearing.  Good for them.

[6] Posted by Katherine on 3-26-2014 at 06:11 PM · [top]

It does make you wonder how much real support is out there in favor of “Marriage Equality,” rather than everyone just being afraid of being punished for not agreeing.  When Chick Fil A and the Duck Dynasty guy stood their grounds and wouldn’t back down, there was a huge groundswell of support for them.

[7] Posted by Jim the Puritan on 3-26-2014 at 06:17 PM · [top]

##5 & 6—I agree, and they should get credit for that.  But still, I would think a lot of folks’ faith in WV’s judgment is going to be very shaken, notwithstanding WV reversing its position.

[8] Posted by Jim the Puritan on 3-26-2014 at 06:20 PM · [top]

This is an apology.  No gussing up the words or making excuses.  State the facts.  Admit you were wrong.  Tell us what you will do to regain our trust.

Leaders of and over Truro - take note.

[9] Posted by Jackie on 3-26-2014 at 06:30 PM · [top]

ToAllThe World,
If there was a child involved in your pledge, what are you going to tell them?

[10] Posted by obadiahslope on 3-26-2014 at 06:56 PM · [top]

A brief observation from Uganda, where World Vision has done a lot of good work, especially in Northern Uganda.

First, WV employees in Africa often find themselves in a donor culture that includes many secularists from USA and Europe. They send their children to the same schools, go to the same workshops, get invited to embassy cocktail parties, etc.

But second, the people they serve are overtly evangelical and strongly opposed to the gay agenda, indeed who see the West as a threat. In Uganda and other African nations, a same-sex aid worker, married or not, would probably be at risk of arrest or at least expulsion from the country.

I have not yet seen any publicity of this World Vision decision so far here, but WV has probably undermined its credibility abroad as well as at home.

[11] Posted by Stephen Noll on 3-26-2014 at 09:18 PM · [top]

Not sure just how far the ‘repentance’ extends.  Mr Stearns is quoted as saying:

“We did inadequate consultation with our supporters. If I could have a do-over on one thing, I would have done much more consultation with Christian leaders.”

and

Stearns expects the board to continue to deal with questions about employment and same-sex relationships. “I think every Christian organization will continue to deal with this sensitive issue,” he said. “The board will continue to talk about this issue for many board meetings to come. ... We need to have a process to do further and wider consultation with key Christian leaders around the country, and we will be discussing how that can happen.”

Certainly there is regret at not having enough ‘consultation’ and a determination to ‘do further and wider consultation’, but that is not the same thing as repentance for making the wrong decision.

‘Justin Welby - call your office - new client for manipulated conversations.’

[12] Posted by Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] on 3-26-2014 at 09:23 PM · [top]

PM:  I suspect that you are right.  This isn’t something that they accidentally fell into, rather it is something that they clearly contemplated for some time before deciding on a course of action they felt best.  For reasons that are incomprehensible, they obviously didn’t expect such a backlash.  I laud them for their apology, but the fact that they could even make such a move in the first place should evoke serious concern.  I would not be surprised if, in the next year or so, WV quietly withdraws its “lifestyle” rules and replaces them only with a set of faith principles to adhere to.  Truth be told, this model (statement of belief to accept but no set of rules for personal living) is used by a lot of fully orthodox Christian organizations and so wouldn’t necessarily cause the same uproar.  It would nevertheless result in the same basic outcome from their perspective.

[13] Posted by jamesw on 3-26-2014 at 10:01 PM · [top]

“will continue to talk about this issue”-inadabadoodoo-“will continue to talk about this issue”-‘wreckonciliation’-“will continue to talk about this issue”-TEc PLAYBOOK Gambit-1.

Been there, done that, got TEc, the AC, the AcCanada, and the ELcA as living proof of “will continue to talk about this issue”.

Wait for the second shoe to drop.  It will.

[14] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 3-26-2014 at 10:27 PM · [top]

I’m grateful World Vision has reversed course. To see an example of “progressive Christian” reaction, check out this response by Rachel Held Evans:

http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/world-vision-update

[15] Posted by the virginian on 3-26-2014 at 10:33 PM · [top]

We’ve sponsored three children in Africa via WV over the years.  At this point, trying to show grace, I’d continue to do so.  However, it will now be with a much more critical eye. 

I think it’s easy for those of us who struggle to be biblically faithful on this and other like issues to see this as a reason to part company and wash our hands of WV.  It’s a lot easier, in general, to walk away from those who screw up.  I think that’s one of the things the Enemy wants us to do—believe that some sins are too great to be forgiven, even in the face of real repentance (and not mere spin-doctoring).  Perhaps I’m naive but I’m encouraged that WV at least had the guts to come out and say “we blew it, we repent” and reiterate their original biblically-grounded policy.  So I’m willing to forgive them, at least this once.

However, it does reinforce my view that one needs to look VERY carefully at where our charitable $$ go.  I also will be interested to see what Microsoft and Google, among others, will do in the face of this renunciation of their “marriage equality” strongarming.

[16] Posted by Joshua 24:15 on 3-26-2014 at 10:49 PM · [top]

Praise be: I had decided to hang on for a day or two and simply pray.

My late spouse and I supported WV with untargeted money for several decades. Since he died, that is quite recently, I decided to sponsor a little two-year-old girl in Nicaragua with my birthday, using just a part of what his food used to cost. I felt bound to be faithful to my promise. I can now do that with a clear conscience.

Little girls need to be helped by and through people who worship Jesus Christ rather than Aphrodite.

[17] Posted by Dr. Priscilla Turner on 3-27-2014 at 03:20 AM · [top]

I am glad to see this retraction, but it would have been far better to have had nothing to retract.  That statement that they will be continuing to discuss the issue means whoever is behind that first decision (Stearns himself?) has sufficient clout to keep the issue alive.  That is not a good thing.

In his explanation of the decision, Stearns noted that their staff come from a number of liberal denominations as well as conservative ones.  I would be willing to bet that nearly all such staff come from the conservative wings of the PCUSA, UCC, etc.

I wonder if Lewis’s “Christianity and ” phenomenon is at work.  I have seen a tendency among evangelicals who have a passion for the poor and their state to waver, if they are not careful, into a situation where the passion for the poor overcomes a commitment to and passion for biblical Christianity.

My wife and I have supported one or at times two children for three decades.  We will stop supporting WV if they revisit this policy and decide to recognize sham “marriages.”

[18] Posted by AnglicanXn on 3-27-2014 at 06:16 AM · [top]

CharityNavigator reports WV to be only a three-star charity. Have you looked at the size of its head’s salary?

I send my money to a four-star charity working to improve the lives of Children in Jesus’s name - Compassion International. Haven’t detected any apostasy there, either.

[19] Posted by sophy0075 on 3-27-2014 at 06:26 AM · [top]

I read that letter from WV. Sorry, it is a basic apology. No repentance. Won’t be supporting WV when there are other more worthy Christian Charities that don’t have these problems with their board of trustees.

[20] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 3-27-2014 at 03:13 PM · [top]

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