Over the past week, the American arm of one of the world’s largest Christian charities, World Vision, announced that they would be changing their hiring policies to allow married, gay Christians to work for them, experienced a truly amoral backlash from right-wing Christians that put bigotry ahead of the needs of poor children, and ended up caving to their bullying and reversing course. The Canadian division of World Vision, however, doesn’t have those problems. They’re not allowed to discriminate against gays, and people don’t seem to have a problem with it. They have released a statement explaining where they stand:
Canada’s legal environment is quite different from that of the United States. We comply with provincial laws on this matter which prohibit discrimination in employment. For example, as part of our hiring process, we do not ask questions about sexual orientation, marriage or related issues.
However, when we hire, we are very clear about our values and our Christian identity. We explain how our Christian identity motivates and informs our work and how we work together here in Canada.
While we have a code of conduct on ethical and legal issues, we don’t ask staff to sign a lifestyle code of conduct.
We want our staff to be united around our mission of following Christ in serving the poor. When we hire staff, our Christian faith is clear. And when they join World Vision they are aligning with us as a Christian organization.
This is what is most key for us: When it comes to working with the poor, World Vision serves children, families and communities, regardless of whether they are aligned with our values or not. Race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation do not prevent us from serving the poorest of the poor.
This is important to point out because, regardless of what happened this week, this is where the church in the United States is going. In 2014, there are still enough far right, anti-gay Religious Right types that World Vision’s move — which is completely in line with where the country, and the church, are going — inspired such a frenzied backlash that their core mission was threatened. But it won’t always be like that.
In a recent piece, I explained that the Religious Right’s campaign for “religious freedom” is actually nothing of the sort, but a Hail Mary attempt to write exceptions into the law that allow for their bigotry, and that this campaign is a direct descendant of earlier attempts to codify racism and preserve segregation in law. Many of the same people who are considered fathers of the racist Right are also fathers of the anti-gay right, but today, they all pretend like they were never part of this racist movement, and are offended at the suggestion. That’s because they don’t know their own history, or actively deny it. The truth of the matter is that, just as the culture continues to evolve on race issues, the culture is evolving on LGBT issues, and with that, the church is evolving too. There will come a time when all but the most fringe religious sects accept LGBT people, and they’ll scoff at the idea that they were ever like those bigoted people that were at the forefront of anti-gay discrimination.
The point is that it may not happen this year or next, but World Vision’s American branch will one day choose to move toward more inclusion once again, and that one day, they’ll be able to do that without people like Tony Perkins starting impromptu campaigns to deny children access to food and healthcare in the name of hating gays. This is the greatest fear of people like Tony, people like Bryan Fischer, etc. But it will happen, and if it’s anything like the rest of the struggle for LGBT equality, it may be sooner than any of us (or them) realize.