World Vision reverses decision, calls intention to work with LGBT people a "mistake"

Just 48 hours after announcing that it was planning to include legally married Christian LGBT people for employment, the ecumenical Christian charity World Vision announced that they would reverse that decision and revert to their previous policy of not employing LGBT people.

The reversal came after several high profile activists (who are featured as a part of GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project) railed against the change in policy. Right Wing Watch has a roundup. 

Bryan Fischer: "World Vision long ago abandoned evangelism, as a condition of accepting money from the federal government. Now they have abandoned morality as well. Is there now anything, anything at all, that makes this an organization worthy of evangelical support?"

Michael Brown: "Let it be stated plainly to the leadership and board of directors of World Vision U.S.: The Lord Jesus is no longer central in the corporate life of your organization. You have denied his lordship by your actions."

Franklin Graham: "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. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the Scriptures consistently teach that marriage is between a man and woman and any other marriage relationship is sin.”

Matt Barber: “This very dramatic, counter-biblical, apostate move by World Vision shows where they stand. They have destroyed their credibility as a Christian organization with one fell swoop – and it’s heart-wrenching."

Peter LaBarbara: "World Vision’s sellout is part of a disturbing trend in evangelicalism to capitulate in the Culture War over homosexuality–while the pro-LGBT lobby only ramps up its advocacy of sexually immoral laws and corporate policies."

Albert Mohler: "The shift announced yesterday by World Vision points to disaster."

When it announced the change in policy, World Vision stated that it did so because many Christian denominations were accepting and including LGBT people. They have since called that move a "mistake" and downplayed the fact that Christians are increasingly accepting and supporting LGBT people.

Christianity Today reports:

"Rather than creating more unity [among Christians], we created more division, and that was not the intent," said Stearns. "Our board acknowledged that the policy change we made was a mistake … and we believe that [World Vision supporters] helped us to see that with more clarity … and we're asking you to forgive us for that mistake."

"We listened to [our] friends, we listened to their counsel. They tried to point out in loving ways that the conduct policy change was simply not consistent … with the authority of Scripture and how we apply Scripture to our lives," said Stearns. "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."

"What we are affirming today is there are certain beliefs that are so core to our Trinitarian faith that we must take a strong stand on those beliefs," said Stearns. "We cannot defer to a small minority of churches and denominations that have taken a different position."

The response from many LGBT supportive people of faith has been one of confusion and frustration that needy children around the globe are held hostage to a political and unbiblical worldview that places a priority on the exclusion of LGBT people from employment and participation in public life.

"This reversal is not only disappointing, it demonstrates that there are still loud and shrill voices who are willing to throw out the Gospel of Christ and his command to care for those in need, and, instead, actively support the persecution of LGBT people," said Ross Murray, head of GLAAD's religion work. "These anti-LGBT activists are forcing World Vision to fall out of step with the churches and denominations who have learned how to work with LGBT people to serve the needy, and causing real harm to needy children around the globe."

Overnight, the blogosphere lit up. Evangelical blogger Rachel Held Evans writes:

This whole situation has left me feeling frustrated, heartbroken, and lost. I don't think I've ever been more angry at the Church, particularly the evangelical culture in which I was raised and with which I for so long identified. I confess I had not realized the true extent of the disdain and stigmatization many evangelicals have toward LGBT people, nor had I expected World Vision to yield to that disdain and stigmatization by reversing its decision under financial pressure. Honestly, it feels like a betrayal from every side. 

Something has to change. And I'm as committed as ever to being a part of that change.

A pastor who blogs at "Reluctant Xian" writes:

Have you read Luke 17?

Let me refresh your memory

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! 2It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 4And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”

Bullies who withdrew support from World Vision, listen up: you just caused stumbling.

Should we now tell our children that when we don’t get our way we just get to go home no matter the consequences?  You don’t think your children are watching?  “It’s OK, Johnny, to not feed those children because first you have to hand it to that same-sex partnered person, and it’s no good coming from their hands.”

Both bloggers urge continued support for needy children around the globe. In the wake of such confusion and frustration, GLAAD will keep you informed of developments, if there are any. Meanwhile, we continue to highlight the growing number of pro-LGBT voices of faith, as well as charities that include LGBT people.