New insight into the World Vision debacle that occurred a year ago this week suggests that conservative Christians were so peeved over the charity organization’s decision to no longer consider gay people unhirable, that thousands of the poorest children in the world lost more than five million dollars in donations. That amount could be almost twice as high as previously thought, writes Patheos blogger Ben Corey.
World Vision is a Christian charity that matches Western sponsors and third-world children. The organization says it does not promote Christianity outright as part of its core mission, but concedes that Christian principles are often transferred through the relationships that its workers build with poor communities abroad.
Last year’s fiasco left all parties disenfranchised, because after an outcry by conservative Christian members, World Vision caved, reneging on its promise within days by deciding to keep discriminating against gay applicants. So everyone lost — but none lost more than the children whom this was all supposed to be about.
The number we’ve known publicly was that 10,000 children were dumped by Christian families in those few days — a number so big that it brought World Vision into submission to the right, causing them to reverse their policy decision just a few days later (here’s their official statement on that).
Now World Vision USA has “a clearer picture of the financial impact,” and the revised number is that Christian patrons canceled at least 15,000 sponsorships, and as many as 19,000.
That’s 15,000 for sure, and 4,000 sponsorships likely lost, for a total number of upwards of 19,000 kids who had their sponsorships pulled. But let’s break that down even further: a source confirmed with me that the average sponsor stays with their child for 10 years.
So when we really want to dissect the impact of the gay-marriage fiasco, the ultimate number over time would look like this: 19,000 sponsorships lost at $35 per month, over 10 years each, equals $6,650,000 in total losses. Even if we write off the 4,000 children where there’s question as to why they were dropped, that still leaves us at a verifiable, known loss of $5,250,000 that is a direct response to the decision to employ gay Christians.
Ben, to his credit, has been working to repair the damage, but it’s clearer than ever that supporting World Vision also means, indirectly, supporting anti-gay hiring practices. From where I sit, there are better alternatives, such as Save the Children, where I became a sponsor of a Vietnamese toddler last month. Save the Children pushes no creed or religion, and has a considerably higher rating on the Charity Navigator website, thanks to less overhead and more money going to the children’s families.