Belief Beat

Belief Beat

Should Federal Funds Go to World Vision & Other Groups That Only Hire Christians?

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly aired an interesting piece this weekend about whether faith-based groups that accept government funding may continue only hiring members of their own faith. (Remember, the ongoing controversy here is that these groups are supported by taxpayer money, in contrast to completely private organizations.)

It’s a heated debate. Most people seem to agree that such groups may not use public funds to try to convert the people they’re helping, but the employment question remains touchy. President Obama seems to have switched from opposing such hiring discrimination, to viewing it on a “case by case basis,” and the practice has been upheld by the courts, for now.


One problem I had with Kim Lawton’s reporting: she let World Vision off way too easy. This major Christian global aid organization, which is in my neck of the woods, “received more than $300 million in cash and goods from the federal government” last year;  its leaders maintain the right to “consider religion in its hiring.” That’s a pretty mild way of putting what you find on their job descriptions, which includes “attend and participate in daily devotions and weekly Chapel services,” even for positions like “website support team supervisor.” That’s even above and beyond just signing off on their Statement of Faith and Apostle’s Creed, which you would assume means the folks they hire already attend church regularly and pray at home. How many highly-qualified altruistic people are turned off or away by these requirements, and how much time are required prayer sessions taking from multi-million dollar government-funded efforts to help the world’s (non-Christian) needy?


Another unexplored angle: Where do fiscal conservatives stand on funding these socially conservative groups, during this economic downturn? Or is it just about making sure government money doesn’t go to Planned Parenthood, no-copay birth control pills, etc.?

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

*Click here to subscribe to Belief Beat and click here to follow Belief Beat on Twitter.

Comments read comments(3)
post a comment

posted August 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Good points and good questions Nicole!

report abuse

Mary C Scott

posted August 16, 2011 at 7:05 am

Louise, I think your first line should say ‘Religion and Ethics Newsweekly RE-aired…’ this piece which was originally run in May 2010. Is there a reason why it was rerun without any apparent update or explanation given for it being published again now? Has something happened recently that has reignited this conversation or is it just that there’s nothing going on this summer to write about? Poor journalism, if that’s the case, especially given the importance of this subject.

report abuse


posted August 16, 2011 at 9:18 am

Wow Mary it sounds like your ox is getting gored. It is an important topic and shouldn’t just slip by unnoticed.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!
Thank you for visiting Belief Beat. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy:   Beliefnet News   Good News Happy Reading!   ...

posted 4:57:28pm Feb. 14, 2012 | read full post »

Fun Friday: Atheist Temple Planned for UK's Nonbelievers
Author Alain de Botton has announced plans to build an Atheist temple in the United Kingdom, presumably so nonbelievers have a place to gather and share their philosophies. Um... isn't that what Starbucks is for? Also, I can't wait to see ...

posted 2:53:42pm Jan. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Alaska Airlines: High Payers No Longer Offered Sky Prayers
Alaska Airlines, now the country's seventh-largest airline, has announced it will stop offering prayer cards with its in-flight meals. (It's just raining religion news in the great unchurched Pacific Northwest lately.) I've flown Alaska ...

posted 11:07:56am Jan. 26, 2012 | read full post »

Washington's Gay Marriage Debate: Clergy vs. Clergy
I reported for Reuters at the Washington state Capitol yesterday, covering the public hearings on a gay marriage bill -- and in between, the breaking news that the state Senate now has enough votes to pass the bill. (The House already had ...

posted 11:24:39am Jan. 24, 2012 | read full post »

What Israel's Domestic Policy & Santorum Supporters Have in Common
Hope everyone had an introspective Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, whether observed as a faith-related holiday, a nice break from the work week or something else entirely. Check out this story from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly about how ...

posted 1:32:44pm Jan. 18, 2012 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.