Culture War Casualties: 10,000 Abandoned Children

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World Vision has released an update on the damage done by the culture wars last week: 10,000 abandoned children. That’s just in the United States branch of World Vision.

Here’s how @TheAmericnJesus put it: that’s twice as many we stopped feeding in the name of theological purity as Jesus fed with absolutely no questions asked.

Oh, wait, that’s just for World Vision USA. I know there were cases in Canada, too, even though World Vision Canada is legally required to have fair hiring practices and have hired gay Christians for years. Some Canadians who were similarly afraid of gay people helping children in need did indeed pull their support even though what they were protesting didn’t apply, but I don’t know numbers on that. Canadians aren’t usually quite as quick to engage in culture war and we do only have 1/10 of the population, so I think 1,000 is probably the high end for World Vision Canada losses.

We could rationalize that number down in a few ways, of course.

Let’s say that half of these children were replaced with children sponsored in other organisations. So if you treat children as completely interchangeable, maybe that’s only a net change of 5,000. We could be more optimistic and say that there is a net change of only 3,000 or 2,000 children left to die. I really don’t recommend treating children as interchangeable, but I have heard this argument. It’s still a lot of interchangeable children whose sponsors cared less about them than about making their culture war statement.

There was also that flood of those who rushed to fill in the gaps. I doubt it was 10,000, but it was a substantial number. I don’t know if the 10,000 count included these or not.

And of course maybe some are still coming back. Maybe need time to heal from feeling like World Vision has turned away from their faith, or maybe they need to wait for their pastor to give a stamp of approval that they are true Christians again. Unfortunately the culture war mindset tends to mean that you never heal because there’s always another battle to fight against those gays and liberals and culture war pastors tend to be a lot slower to extend a handshake of welcome than a slap of judgement. But still, hopefully that will happen and some more of those 10,000 will return.

Yes, we could run lots of adjustments to make it sound less severe than 10,000. Whatever the exact adjusted number, that’s still a whole lot of kids put in mortal danger so they could prove your point and win the culture battle. And yes, they proved a point. Many points, even. They proved that they didn’t really care about their child. They proved that they see repeating the original sin, eating the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, to be more important and even more Christian than the Great Commandment of Jesus to love others, especially the least of these. They proved that they really, really hate gay people, so much that they can’t handle the thought of them helping people in need. In short, they proved that they care more about proving their theological superiority than they do about real flesh-and-blood people baring God’s image.

Wait, let me adjust that: even if it was one dead kid and even if those points were good things to prove, that’s too many dead kids to prove a point, any point. A kid’s life – an adult’s life even – is always too high of a price to pay to prove your theological superiority. Even if everything miraculously worked out to no net loss, no children suddenly thrown from security to a high probability of dying very soon, just threatening thousands of children’s lives to prove your theological superiority is still completely unjustifiable.

For years we’ve talked about the refugees of the culture wars, mostly American young adults who love Jesus but are booted out of their evangelical churches for accepting evolution, or asking questions about biblical authorship, or not fitting 1950’s gender roles, or for treating gay people with respect. Some find refuge in the mainline or Anabaptism or Catholicism or somewhere else. Many do not and are left all alone, never able to reconcile Jesus with the people who carry his name. Yes, there are thousands if not into the millions in this category. It’s one thing to kick people out of their churches who disagree with them. At least they’re likely to survive, although often in PTSD-like mental states. And those people are Christians who they do have some authority over, even if they did vastly abuse it.

But this has taken culture war casualties to a whole new level. 10,000 abandoned children. They were innocent bystanders, dragged into this stupid war that had nothing to do with them.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.