Evangelical Organizations Concerned About Potential Threat to Religious Liberty
The Story: Evangelical organizations that partner with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to deliver humanitarian aid overseas are voicing concern and outrage over a new federal policy that "strongly encourages" all contractors to develop anti-discrimination policies covering employees' sexual orientation, says Christianity Today.
The Background: Many Christian charities require employees to agree to adhere to Biblical standards of conduct relating to sexuality. For example, World Vision requires all their U.S. employees to sign a statement of faith and agree to a standard of conduct that limits sexuality to 'a God-ordained covenant between a man and a woman'."
"For a government agency to 'strongly encourage' us to abandon such core beliefs in our hiring policies is offensive and uncalled for," World Vision's senior vice president Kent Hill told Christianity Today.
Why It Matters: USAID denied any effort to impose on religious beliefs by saying the LGBT anti-discrimination policy is not binding. But the new policy could be a first step toward making such guidelines mandatory, say critics such as Chad Hayward, executive director of the Accord Network.
Such concerns have been reinforced by recent statements made by the Obama administration. In December President Obama issued a memorandum to the heads of all executive departments and agencies stating that the "struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons" is "central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights." If the hiring practices of evangelical groups like World Vision put them in opposition to the Obama administration's agenda, how much longer can such faith-based partnerships last?