Nicholas D. Kristof published yesterday, 27 Feb. 2010, in New York Times, an excellent article on the work of World Vision US. The op-ed columnist uses this opportunity to make some interesting comments on evangelicalism and liberalism in the American context.
The article does not distinguish clearly between World Vision International, the umbrella organisation having over 40,000 staff working in almost 100 countries, and World Vision Unitestd States, which is just one of the national entities that form this international partnership, be it the largest. Yet, this is a common confusion and does not detract from the gest of this text. I will paste below just a few lines from this article which is worth reading in its entirety.
- Evangelicals have become the new internationalists, pushing successfully for new American programs against AIDS and malaria, and doing superb work on issues from human trafficking in India to mass rape in Congo.
- A growing number of conservative Christians are explicitly and self-critically acknowledging that to be “pro-life” must mean more than opposing abortion.
- Mr. Stearns argues that evangelicals were often so focused on sexual morality and a personal relationship with God that they ignored the needy. He writes laceratingly about “a Church that had the wealth to build great sanctuaries but lacked the will to build schools, hospitals, and clinics.” In one striking passage, Mr. Stearns quotes the prophet Ezekiel as saying that the great sin of the people of Sodom wasn’t so much that they were promiscuous or gay as that they were “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49.) Hmm. Imagine if sodomy laws could be used to punish the stingy, unconcerned rich!
- Some Americans assume that religious groups offer aid to entice converts. That’s incorrect. Today, groups like World Vision ban the use of aid to lure anyone into a religious conversation.
- A root problem is a liberal snobbishness toward faith-based organizations. Those doing the sneering typically give away far less money than evangelicals. They’re also less likely to spend vacations volunteering at, say, a school or a clinic in Rwanda. If secular liberals can give up some of their snootiness, and if evangelicals can retire some of their sanctimony, then we all might succeed together in making greater progress against common enemies of humanity, like illiteracy, human trafficking and maternal mortality.