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.