The Gap in the Secular Discourse
In Nicholas Kristof’s most recent column, “Learning from the Sin of Sodom,” he contends liberal secularists in the development community need to forsake their prejudice against evangelicals and understand the constructive role faith-based organizations play in foreign aid. By focusing on aid programs aimed at stemming the spread of infectious diseases, curbing human trafficking, and distributing food to the poor, Kristof argues that “evangelicals have become the new internationalists.”
To see a prime example of the positive impact evangelicals can have in development, one must look no further than Global Washington’s member organization World Vision. As the largest relief organization in the United States, World Vision fields 40,000 workers in almost 100 countries. Noting their Christian values as inspiration, World Vision works in the poorest communities to alleviate poverty and promote peace and justice regardless of race, religion, or gender.
The President of World Vision, Richard Stearns illustrates this sentiment of faith-driven aid in his book “The Hole in Our Gospel.” In the book, Mr. Stearns asserts that the values of Christianity are not inconsistent with giving aid, but some evangelicals have been too concerned with sexual morality and proselytizing to truly make an impact on poverty. Indeed, organizations such as World Vision forbid activities aimed at attracting converts to Christianity, exemplifying the constructive nature of some evangelicals’ aid work.
Ultimately, liberal secularists need to abandon their assault on faith-based development programs and accept the evangelicals’ valuable role in international development. That way, as Kristof argues, “we all might succeed together in making greater progress against common enemies of humanity.”
To learn more about the contributions of religion in development please visit the websites of World Vision and Global Washington’s other faith-based member organizations Habitat for Humanity of Seattle/South King County, Medical Teams International, Agros International, and Breakthrough Partners.