You have to wonder how World Vision could be so out of touch with their constituency that they would think any policy change regarding homosexuality would be anything less than catastrophic? As soon as they lifted the ban on hiring practicing homosexuals, the response was swift as conservative evangelicals across North America vocally expressed their outrage and rallied collectively to punish World Vision. Matthew Lee Anderson, a blogger at the ironically titled website “Mere Orthodoxy”, can take at least some of the credit. One commenter in response to his article “On whether Christians should keep supporting World Vision” expresses the worst depths of self-righteous bitterness:
Over the years, I have seen many ugly comments in the blogosphere. But I have never seen a comment uglier than this: an unconscionable abandonment dressed up in obnoxious, self-righteous garb. I am not suggesting that all conservative evangelicals who decided not to support World Vision based on their changed policy share the ugly, self-righteous attitude of Sid Sorces. Nonetheless, this comment is a particularly pure distillation of the distressing inversion of values that places policy debates within an NGO on a contentious theological and ethical issue to be as of more priority than helping the poor and disenfranchised. This is tantamount to a Christian pacifist refusing to help war refugees because the Christian agency helping them does not explicitly endorse pacifism.
What about genocide…?
Just in the last few days, at the very same time that conservative evangelicals have been rallying to punish World Vision, reports have been flooding out of a developing genocide in the Central African Republic. According to reports from the United Nations and several NGOs, the last few months have seen several thousand people murdered and more than one million displaced. Yet, I am quite sure that the average North American conservative evangelical is not even aware of this horrifying situation. (Genocide? Africa? Meh. Pro-gay policy at a North American evangelical NGO? Argh!!!!)
Why is it that “homosexuality” causes a tidal wave of protest among conservative evangelicals, while “genocide” does not even create a ripple?
But let’s set aside genocide and talk, instead, about a more mundane reality: poverty. According to UNICEF:
About 29,000 children under the age of five – 21 each minute – die every day, mainly from preventable causes.
More than 70 per cent of almost 11 million child deaths every year are attributable to six causes: diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth. (source)
I recognize that many conservative evangelicals are broadly aware of the problem and working to alleviate it. And I have no intention of belittling their noble efforts. What strikes me is that there is no outrage among conservative evangelicals about the preventable deaths of thirty thousand children a day which is comparable to the outrage that sweeps like a raging Aussie brushfire at the very mention of homosexuality.
The recent World Vision fiasco does present us with grounds for a sweeping moral indictment. But that indictment is not, I think, of World Vision.