Thursday, 27 March 2014

World Vision SPEAKS NOW... then caves in!

Anthony Venn-Brown, of Freedom2b, reports that the U.S. based Christian charity WORLD VISION announced that they would allow Christians in same-sex marriages to be employed with the organisation.

                                                                    Richard Stearns

While the board was not unanimous, it was "overwhelmingly in favour" according the the US director Richard Stearns. "Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with out practice on other divisive issues," he said. "It also allows us to treat all our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage."

However, a backlash by conservative Evangelical and Pentecostal groups railed against World Vision for moving away from 'biblical teaching'.  Some denominations, such as Assemblies of God, urged their members to withdraw support from WV, with the immediate result that thousands did just that, ultimately depriving the 1.2 million children sponsored by the charity. World Vision is one of the 10 largest humanitarian organisations in the U.S., with annual revenues topping $1 billion.

Consequently, within 48 hours, World Vision reversed its decision and Stearns humbly begged forgiveness, saying "We are broken hearted 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."  The Associated Press quotes a letter to supporters which stated that the board had made a mistake and was returning to pits policy requiring celibacy outside of marriage "and faithfulness within the Bible covenant of marriage between a man and a woman."

Apparently the Canadian branch of WV does not discriminate against gay & lesbian people and complies with local laws that prohibit discrimination in employment. Twitter feed suggests that each World Vision office implements its own employment policy and US policies would not apply to WV Australia.

Venn-Brown asks how many people who have supported the charity have gay or lesbian family members.  He also asks WV to recognise the number of its supporters who worship in churches that have moved on from outdated concepts and welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians. Venn-Brown also suggests that alienated youth who are leaving churches and rejecting traditional Christianity as irredeemably homophobic are unlikely to want to support this charity in future.  The Huffington Post commented: "Even now as evangelical leaders are crowing about their victory, there will be more young people, gay and straight, who will become convinced that there is no place for them in the Church.

What would Jesus do?

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Queen Elizabeth SPEAKS NOW (or does she?)

Last July (2013), Queen Elizabeth II gave her Royal assent to a Bill that gave gay, lesbian, bi and trans people the right to marry in England and Wales.  Now, in March 2014, she has given her signature to Scotland's marriage equality bill. Whatta dame!

Contrary to the fears expressed by Australian politicians and church leaders, under the new laws churches and other authorising bodies can choose to 'opt in' to allow weddings for same sex-couples to be held on their sacred premises but they are not compelled to do so.  Things are much simpler in countries where marriage is regarded legally as a civil ceremony, with the church fandango an optional ceremony.  (Perhaps this is why so many ostensibly 'Catholic' countries have long since granted full equality to queer folk with respect to marriage.)

The question remains (as posed by Australian Marriage Could Her Maj have done anything else?  According to the UK constitution, she is obliged to sign off on laws passed by 'Her' government.  Were she to demur, it would create a crisis.

AME noted that in all her years as head of the Commonwealth of nations, the Queen has never mentioned gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people.  In fact, as lobby group All Out uncomfortably noted, in 36 of the 54 member nations of the Commonwealth such people are regularly persecuted, arrested, murdered and executed and many of the laws that underpin the persecution come from the colonial era, when British penal law was instituted.

In places like Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda and dozens of other former colonies (including Jamaica!), queer people aren't fighting for marriage, they are fighting for their lives.

Perhaps the Queen is content with a largely ceremonial role, but there are calls for a real leader to speak now to address these wrongs.