When cowardice (and the non-profit industrial complex) won the day

My last post took me two days to write so I had to follow the World Vision debacle from a distance. I think everything that can be said has been said, but I do want to point out the most important comments from my fellow bloggers about this issue because there have been some really great insights from BOTH Christians and non-Christians. It is also an issue for which I have paid a personal price, so this sort of cowardice angers me.

On the Christian side, Formerly Fundie made the important observation that the reaction from the fundamentalist Christian world was both shocking in its blatancy and embarrassing to the church. The message is essentially, “We would rather let children go hungry than treat gay people with dignity.” Possibly the most upsetting example is this one, where Judy lays the responsibility for hungry children whose sponsors have abandoned them squarely on the shoulders of those who want to treat gay people with dignity. Well done, Judy.

I recall a passage from the Bible in which people like Judy say, “‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’”

The answer? ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:44-45).

This is the same Jesus who had this to say about homosexuality: ”                         ”

 

That’s right. Nothing.

Over at the Atheist Channel, Hemant Mehta hits the nail on the head when he says, “Way to cave in to the people who would rather let children starve than allow gay people to help feed them.”

And JT Eberhard says what I’ve been saying for years as I spoke out against discrimination at the denominational and State of California level:

World Vision thinks they’re helping the Church…they’re not.  They’re trading present comfort for a very uncomfortable future for Christianity.  A time is fast approaching (faster than most think) when Christians will want to assure the world they were behind gay rights the entire time.  Christians will feel the shame they should feel now over playing merchant to discrimination.  With this foot note [sic], the time a charity almost cared more about feeding hungry children than treating LGBT people like dirt, and stopped when the pressure came from Christians…World Vision has made that narrative impossible.

For those who are the truly courageous ones—the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and queer Christians—this flip-flop from World Vision is so obviously cowardly and driven solely by fear of losing their donor base that it will drive thousands from the church. For others who have also been courageous and paid the price, or who are in the younger generations and just laugh at this sort of hypocrisy, this mess goes a long way toward hastening the demise of Christianity as a credible participant in the modern world.

This sort of thing used to embarrass me. As Rachel Held Evans tweeted yesterday.

Now it just angers me and reminds me why I’m in the position I’m in today. There is simply too much at stake to be a part of this polarizing conversation any longer. Time to create a new world free from this sort of bigotry. That will require all of us to leave our corners and work together on building the world we all deserve.

About Ryan Bell

For 19 years Ryan Bell was a pastor, most recently the senior pastor of the Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church. In March 2013 he resigned his position due to theological and practical differences. As an adjunct professor he has taught subjects ranging from intercultural communication to bioethics.
Currently he is a researcher, writer and speaker on the topic of religion and irreligion in America. In January 2014, Ryan began a yearlong journey exploring the limits of theism and the atheist landscape in the United States and blogs about that experience here at Year Without God.


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