When I was 15 years old, I went to a concert in Philadelphia called the Revolve Tour where several Christian artists and speakers came to empower young women. While there, the performers constantly brought up World Vision and even showed a video talking about what the organization was and how we could help. As a 15 year old who was eager to do her part and do good to follow Jesus, I suggested to my friend that we sponsor a child together. It would be $40 a month which we would split to pay $20 a month. She agreed and so her mom helped us fill out the paperwork and we even received white wrist bands for our charity. I had no job and no source of income but felt that it wasn't an issue. I felt that I had the money to give and starving children needed it. After a few months though, I was out of money and had to pull out of the entire thing. I'm not sure if my friend and her mom kept the sponsorship or not.
Recently there was an issue involving World Vision and the law stating that companies and corporations couldn't deny an applicant for discriminatory reasons such as race, ethnicity, sexual preference, etc. World Vision complied to this law and made a statement that they would be hiring gay employees from now on. The statement was not taken lightly and before long, tons and tons of World Vision advocates pulled the plug on their monthly donations. It wasn't long after when World Vision revoked their statement and gave a formal apology. This is my understanding of the story.
I think my biggest issue with this situation is the fact that people are willing to ignore starving children because of this decision. Suddenly, because of a political decision, starving children can no longer be supported by certain people? It's okay to support them when your money is traveling through an organization that believes everything you believe but not when you believe different things? I mean, I know it was a big decision for World Vision to make and I know gay marriage is a huge issue that people take strong sides on...but shouldn't we be more concerned about where the money is going instead of what the company believes? Isn't it enough that you both agree that you want to feed starving children and obliterate poverty?
Let me break this down. I'm not ignorant to the fact that people want to support an organization that stands up for what they personally believe is right. Often times a Republican won't donate or support a Democrat's organization, and vice versa. Or think of businesses and organizations like Chick-fil-a and Susan G. Komen. Some people will defend Chick-fil-a because their beliefs are their beliefs and nothing more when it comes to business practices (or they support them because they agree with their beliefs). Others will no longer eat there because the profits are said to go toward organizations that are blatant gay hate groups. The same can be said for Susan G. Komen. Many support this organization because it is doing good to forward the research to cure breast cancer and how can we not support curing cancer in any form? But some don't support this organization because it is said the money doesn't always go toward breast cancer research but abortion clinics. There is one key component here that both sides are missing - a common variable. One side believes the company has a right to believe what they believe while the other takes it step further by saying these businesses/organizations are using their power to fund hate groups, controversial medicine and are choosing political sides. In both of these cases, people stand up against the big guys because their money isn't going toward what they believe it should be going toward and it is only fair that the consumer has a right to know where there money is actually going.
Then there is World Vision. Can I ask, would this decision affect where the monthly donations go? No! We already know that not 100% of World Vision's donations go toward starving kids and most likely goes to funding other things in the organization but that isn't what this whole thing is about...and as for employee pay, it's unfair to say that a sinner of any nature doesn't deserve the right to a job, whether you believe being gay is a sin or not. But in the end, World Vision's decision to hire gay people doesn't change where there money is going. Other factors may change this but hiring gay employees doesn't.
That being said, what I gather from all of these monthly donators pulling their money out of the pot is that they seem to care more about this false moral objective of the company rather than what the company is really about. They support World Vision and since most Christians object to gay marriage, they don't want to show support any longer because if they are hiring gay people, then World Vision isn't on there side.
Okay...but I have two questions. One - who does the money of a non-profit go towards, their company or what they do? The right answer would hopefully be what they do which is supporting starving children (though as I said, I'm not sure 100% of World Vision's profits from monthly donations goes towards preventing starvation and everything else World Vision says they are doing). Two - who's side are we on? You see, I thought that all World Vision supporters were on the same side - the side to end world poverty. I thought poverty and the belief of standing up to it meant more than a political stance. And more importantly, I thought we as Christians were taught, "let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone" from John 8:7 in the Bible. Is it just me or has this organization created to fund love and end poverty become a source for outsiders to learn about hate in the Christian community? Because when I take a step back and look at the whole picture from a non-Christian perspective, I see a group of people betraying their said goal of love in order to cast hate on another group - as if we are all not worthy of love and attention but only a select few. Hosts on the podcast Christ and Pop Culture comment saying, "[These]
poor children [World Vision sponsors] are a political football." And it
is quite true.
What is super ironic is that last night I watched Dumbo and it wasn't until I was halfway done writing
this post that I made a connection between this situation and the early Disney film. In the beginning, Dumbo is delivered to his mother and love ensues the train car the elephants inhabit. But when Dumbo sneezes and reveals his big ears, panic is released. He is different and different is bad. You may be thinking, you can't compare an animated movie about an elephant with big ears to humans rejecting gay marriage. Well, I would argue that I can compare the two. Disney characterizes the elephants as a proud race and this is a big deal to them who take pride in their appearance. It is just as important an issue as gay marriage is to Christians. Moving forward, there is a scene in particular where Dumbo is sitting alone in a corner crying after his mother is taken away from him and chained, all because she tried to protect him (another incident in which John 8:7 takes precedent since the boy making fun of Dumbo's big ears has big ears himself). All of the other elephants are huddled in a circle, gossiping. They want to disown Dumbo as an elephant because he is different. When Dumbo walks over to be with his kind, they not only block him from joining their circle but ignore him and pretend they don't see him there and this strips Dumbo of his humanity...or his elephant-ness is you want to be specific. Aren't Christians doing the same thing with this World Vision incident? Oh, so you're gay? You can't have my God or be a part of my good works. I mean...really? Are we that big headed? Author Richard Snickel says of the scene in his book The Disney Version, "The hugeness of the beasts contrasted
gorgeously with the smallness of their souls." And indeed, the hugeness
of Christian pride and self-righteousness contrasts wonderfully with
the smallness of our souls.
At the end of the day, we can't let our feelings direct our actions and I know that is a challenging idea and one I struggle with a lot. But it is important for us to see every side of the rubik's cube because if you don't, you won't ever solve the puzzle but be ignorant to other solutions. It is important to ask, how does this affect me, if it doesn't affect me than who does it affect, and why does it matter in the context of the situation?
In the case of World Vision, the situation does not affect me since I don't donate money or need someone to support my well-being because I don't have the means to. The decision to hire gay employees doesn't affect my well-being and certainly doesn't affect my theology but it certain tests my theology and makes me stop and think. The decision of the World Vision donators pulling out their money doesn't affect me but it affects the kids that the money goes toward. That donation may have given a child a net to protect them from mosquitoes. Now, because World Vision gives anyone the right to be an employee, other children will not have the opportunity to have nets to protect them and the whole thing is absurd. What does a person's belief in gay marriage matter to an organization feeding, clothing, and supporting poor children? Well...it doesn't.