For World Vision staff in the United States, Christian faith is a prerequisite for employment ... The status of World Vision U.S. as an equal opportunity employer does not prevent the organization from hiring staff based on their religious beliefs, so that all staff share the same religious commitment ... World Vision U.S. has the right to, and does, hire only candidates who agree with World Vision’s Statement of Faith and/or the Apostle’s Creed.
[From World Vision website]
There’s no encouragement for a career here if you’re not a Christian ... We’re very clear from the beginning about hiring Christians. It’s not a surprise, so it’s not discrimination.Religious groups that receive federal funding are currently allowed to exclusively hire only members of their own religion to fill positions whose salaries are paid by public funds. WTF? That's right. US tax dollars are used to directly subsidize religious discrimination in employment.
[Fabiano Franz, World Vision’s national director for Mali, as quoted by Krista Kapralos of globalpost.com]
In a July, 2008 speech on "Faith Based Initiatives", during a campaign stop in Zanesville, Ohio, candidate Barack Obama pledged to end this discrimination (which was officially sanctioned by the Bush Administration).
During the Zanesville speech, Obama said: "As someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state. If you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help, and you can't discriminate against them—or against the people you hire—on the basis of their religion."
How does this play out in practice? Well, for example, in Mali, a nation that is 90% Muslim, World Vision will only hire Christians for such "charitable" projects as the West Africa Water Initiative. If World Vision finds it impossible to fill a position with a Christian, they either simply wait until a qualified Christian can be found, or they temporarily fill the position with a non-Christian, who will then be fired and replaced with a Christian as soon as possible. One such non-Christian is Bara Kassambara, a Muslim.
Writing for globalpost.com, international correspondent Krista Kapralos describes how Kassambara "kept his mouth shut" during his year and a half stint working for World Vision in Mali (control over the project he worked for was eventually transfered to another agency). "Every day, all of his coworkers paused for prayer time. There were frequent Bible studies, and constant talk about Jesus. Kassambara attended the required events, but otherwise quietly focused on his work: bringing clean water to rural Mali."
(Kapralos talked to Kassambara while in Mali for three and a half weeks late last year on an trip funded by the International Center for Journalists. Investigating the activities of US-backed faith-based aid agencies was a major focus of her work in Mali. Check out her website in the near future for her upcoming "Stories From Mali". Reading that story of hers at globalpost was the original inspiration for this blog post, tgcwcid.)
But World Vision makes no distinction, in terms of employment discrimination, between Mali, where it receives US foreign aid money, and the US, where it receives federal "Faith Based Initiatives" funds. Here is what all World Vision employees in the United States are "committed to uphold":
Statement of Faith
- We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
- We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
- We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful man, regeneration of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
- We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
- We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
- We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.
For much more on the use of US foreign aid money to support Christian missionary work around the world see the four-part Boston Globe expose on the subject, from 2006 (written by Farah Stockman, Michael Kranish, and Peter S. Canellos of the Globe Staff, and Globe correspondent Kevin Baron):
Part 1: Bush Brings Faith to Foreign Aid
Part 2: Religious right wields clout
Part 3: Together, but worlds apart
Part 4: Healing the body to reach the soul
Here is an excerpt from part two of that series, specifically on the subject of how "Christian aid groups raise suspicion in strongholds of Islam" (gee, THAT sounds like a good idea, huh?):
Fighting terror with Christ
While Christian Hospital officials insist they are there to heal, not to proselytize, World Witness's own literature suggests that part of its mission is to spread Christianity.
A brochure for the hospital says ``The Jesus Film" ``is shown to all patients," and goes on to say that "the hospital and staff feel that through Christ, terrorism will be eliminated in this part of the world," a phrase that offended Muslim leaders who say Islam is about peace, and not violence.
"If I am given such a message, I ask, 'Why are you spreading hatred among human beings? What is your agenda?'", said Abdul Rauf Farooqi , a Lahore-based member of the board of the National Religious Schools Council.
Christian groups say that view is mistaken. The Rev. Frank van Dalen , World Witness's executive director, said "The Jesus Film" is only shown in the waiting room, and not constantly. He winced when he was shown the brochure's reference to eliminating terrorism through Christ.
"That's a dumb thing to say. It doesn't work that way," he said.
Still, critics say, the Bush administration's special efforts to reach out to faith-based providers, the vast majority of whom are Christian, almost can't help but raise suspicions in Muslim countries.
"I think it's important to step back and look at the wisdom of putting faith-based components into a program like this that is operating in a Muslim nation. The last thing we want to do is create the impression in the Muslim world that the US government is funding groups that seek to convert Muslims to Christianity," said Rob Boston , spokesman for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. "When USAID gives money to religious groups that put Christian symbols in their facilities, and leave evangelical tracts lying around, it's hard to draw any other conclusion [than] that it looks like proselytizing."
Defenders of the Christian groups say religion shouldn't come into play. "As long as it effectively delivers the good the government offers -- such as medicine -- the organization should not be discriminated against simply because it is motivated by faith," said Ryan Messmore , a religion specialist with the Heritage Foundation.
But far from discriminating, USAID has become a growing source of funds for Christian groups in the Muslim world. USAID spent $57 million from 2001-2005 (out of a total of $390 million to nongovernmental agencies) to fund almost a dozen projects run by faith-based organizations in Pakistan, Indonesia, and Afghanistan, according to records obtained by the Freedom of Information Act. Only 5 percent of that sum went to a Muslim group, the Aga Khan Foundation of the USA, which was given approximately $3.5 million for projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
And even that amount is well below what the Aga Khan Foundation received under the Clinton administration, including $4.9 million in fiscal 2000 alone.
In the wake of the devastating 2004 tsunami, no Muslim organization has been awarded a prime USAID award for relief work in Indonesia -- a sore spot among Muslim groups that want to help there.
In fact, of the nearly 160 faith-based organizations that have received prime contracts from USAID in the past five years only two are Muslim.