The Federal Way-based Christian relief agency World Vision said Monday it will hire Christians who are in same-sex marriages, a dramatic policy change on one of the most divisive social issues facing religious groups.
Richard Stearns, president of the international humanitarian-relief group, announced the hiring change for the United States in a letter to staff. Stearns said the World Vision board had prayed for years about how to handle the issue as Christian denominations took different stands on recognizing same-sex relationships.
“I want to reassure you that we are not sliding down some slippery slope of compromise, nor are we diminishing the authority of Scripture in our work,” Stearns wrote. “We are the same World Vision you have always believed in.”
Started by evangelicals, World Vision now has an international operating budget of nearly $1 billion and conducts economic-development and emergency-relief projects around the world. Last year, the charity reported receiving 18 percent of its annual funding from the federal government. Federal agencies have for several years faced pressure to require any group that receives federal funding to end any hiring restrictions on gays and lesbians. Stearns insisted the humanitarian-relief group wasn’t responding to any outside lobbying or concerns about government funding.
“The board and I wanted to prevent this divisive issue from tearing World Vision apart and potentially crippling our ability to accomplish our vital kingdom mission of living and serving the poorest of the poor in the name of Christ,” Stearns wrote in the letter.
The agency’s new hiring policy was first reported by Christianity Today magazine.