Evangelical organizations that partner with Uncle Sam 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.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) issued the policy statement—which has received little publicity—in October, a week after the Supreme Court let stand an appellate court ruling that favored World Vision's faith-based hiring policies.
The high court left in place an August 2010 decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals against three former employees fired after World Vision concluded that they did not believe that Jesus Christ is fully God.
All World Vision U.S. employees must 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," said senior vice president Kent Hill. "For a government agency to 'strongly encourage' us to abandon such core beliefs in our hiring policies is offensive and uncalled for," he said. Last year the 1,200-employee charity received nearly $200 million in government grants—19 percent of its total budget.
In December, President Barack Obama elevated the rights and treatment of LGBT people abroad as a priority in U.S. foreign policy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared in a Geneva speech that "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."
That emphasis, combined with the new USAID policy, has caught the attention of faith-based organizations that believe their religious liberty could be challenged, said Stanley Carlson-Thies, president of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance. "When ...