Today the Christian relief organization World Vision announced that it was reversing its decision, made only two days ago, to recognize employees' same-sex marriage. The earlier decision had sparked quite the uproar within the evangelical Christian community. Apparent in the letter World Vision sent out today (reported by RNS' Sarah Pulliam Bailey) is that its board was concerned the backlash would harm the organizations donations and, in turn, its ability to fulfill its mission.
The key excerpt:
In our board’s effort to unite around the church’s shared mission to serve the poor in the name of Christ, we failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.’s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith, which says, “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.” And we also failed to seek enough counsel from our own Christian partners. As a result, we made a change to our conduct policy that was not consistent with our Statement of Faith and our commitment to the sanctity of marriage.
We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority. We ask that you understand that this was never the board’s intent. We are asking for your continued support. We commit to you that we will continue to listen to the wise counsel of Christian brothers and sisters, and we will reach out to key partners in the weeks ahead.
The letter next noted that, despite the organization's firm commitment to marriage being only between a man and a woman, "strongly affirm that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created by God and are to be loved and treated with dignity and respect."
Sadly, I fear this letter has only amplified the damage done to World Vision's name. Those who were upset -- flabbergasted, even -- over the decision to recognize employees' in legally recognized same-sex marriages are unlikely to be quickly assuaged by this about-face. On the other hand, World Vision isn't making any new friends with more progressively minded Christians. The net result could very well still be fewer charitable dollars.