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Apr 04 2014

What the World Vision Reaction Says About Fundamentalism

World Vision recently decided not to discriminate against gay people in their hiring, prompting a furious and appalling, though predictable reaction, from the anti-gay Christian right. They quickly reversed that decision in the face of the backlash, which has rightly angered Christian writer Rachel Held Evans.

Evangelicals took to Twitter and Facebook to threaten to stop sending money to their sponsored children unless World Vision reversed course.

Within a day of the initial announcement, more than 2,000 children sponsored by World Vision lost their financial support. And with more and more individuals, churches and organizations threatening to do the same, the charity stood to lose millions of dollars in aid that would otherwise reach the poor, sick, hungry and displaced people World Vision serves.

So World Vision reversed course.

Stearns told The New York Times that some people, satisfied with the reversal, have called World Vision headquarters to ask, “Can I have my child back?” as though needy children are expendable bargaining chips in the culture war against gay and lesbian people.

Many of us who grew up evangelical watched with horror as these events unfolded.

As a longtime supporter of World Vision, I encouraged readers of my blog to pick up some of the dropped sponsorships after the initial decision. I then felt betrayed when World Vision backtracked, though I urged my readers not to play the same game but to keep supporting their sponsored children, who are of course at no fault in any of this.

But most of all, the situation put into stark, unsettling relief just how misaligned evangelical priorities have become.

When Christians declare that they would rather withhold aid from people who need it than serve alongside gays and lesbians helping to provide that aid, something is wrong.

There is a disproportionate focus on homosexuality that consistently dehumanizes, stigmatizes and marginalizes gay and lesbian people and, at least in this case, prioritizes the culture war against them over and against the important work of caring for the poor.

Evangelicals insist that they are simply fighting to preserve “biblical marriage,” but if this were actually about “biblical marriage,” then we would also be discussing the charity’s policy around divorce.

But we’re not.

Furthermore, Scripture itself teaches that when we clothe and feed those in need, we clothe and feed Christ himself, and when we withhold care from those in need, we withhold it from Christ himself (Matthew 25:31-46).

Why are the few passages about homosexuality accepted uncritically, without regard to context or culture, but the many about poverty so easily discarded?

Because, as she said, their priorities are incredibly messed up. They lose their minds at the mere mention of anything other than dehumanizing gay people and denying them equality but don’t give a damn about poverty, homelessness, malnutrition and disease. They obsess over fetuses and declare them to be welfare queens and shiftless losers the moment they’re born. This is morally bankrupt by any measure.

And this is why I don’t believe them for a moment when they say they really love gay people and just want them to be safe and happy. They’re lying. Their obsession with punishing gay people even when it’s completely irrelevant to the situation shows that their hatred and loathing runs very, very deep.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    sh3baproject

    remember kids! read the bible,then twist its words and delete anything about caring!

  2. 2
    RickR

    If you think Evans was angry about what happened, you should check out Fred Clarke’s Slacktivist posts about it. He went on for days of posts about how severely fucked in the head white evangelical christianity has become.

  3. 3
    rabbitscribe

    So disappointing to see Evangelical Christianity embracing the disgusting, degenerate sin of Sodom:

    Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it. (Ezekiel 16:49-50; NASB)

  4. 4
    otrame

    RickR @2
    Yeah, I have seldom seen him so pissed. He was deeply enraged by it, and rightly so. I was disgusted, but they weren’t MY co-religionists. Of course, I don’t consider Fred to be their co-religionist, either, but he does.

    I recommend Slacktivist to all. Fred self defines as an evangelical Christian. He is also an extremely liberal, caring, painfully honest guy who tries really hard to turn Christianity into something worthy of respect. I respect HIM a lot, even if I think he is doomed to failure on talking some, many, maybe most, Christians into behaving like decent human beings.

    The commentariate there is an interesting mix. Also, for the past ten years or so he has been going through the Left Behind books and movies, showing exactly why they are a) so poorly written they aren’t even funny bad; and b) blasphemous. He does a few pages at a time and uses them to launch into a wide-ranging discussion about a thousand different things. Well worth reading from the beginning.

  5. 5
    d.c.wilson

    I wonder how these evangelicals would react if they found out the kid they’ve been helping for years turned out to be gay. Would they demand a refund?

  6. 6
    ArtK

    @ rabbitscribe

    That would be some delicious irony, if it weren’t for the fact that the reality behind it is so painful.

  7. 7
    left0ver1under

    “Do unto others so you can have gawd do unto you” or something like that. It’s never about helping others, it’s about scoring brownie points. In their fetid minds, leaving the kids to starve as a way to “punish teh ghey” is equally justified and justifiable.

  8. 8
    timgueguen

    Apparently World Vision Canada will hire gay people, not wanting to run afoul of Canadian antidiscrimination laws. Perhaps even worse from a fundie perspective is that they’re hire Muslims. There was a World Vision kiosk in a local mall for a week or two last year, and one of the young people working it was wearing a hijab.

  9. 9
    bryanfeir

    @#2, @#4:

    And, to show how much the world is connected, Dispatches from the Culture Wars here is listed in the Slacktivist main Blogroll. Along with Love, Joy, Feminism, Bad Astronomy, and a host of others that probably aren’t listed on too many explicitly Christian blogs.

    Not to mention his secondary Blogrolls, like ‘The Bonfire’, which is a list of 2500 different blogs by Christian women as a way to quiet the people who claim that they never link to Christian women’s voices because none of them are speaking out. He has similar lists for LGBT Christians, and non-white Christians.

    Intersectionality is something he does seem to get.

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