Oct. 4, 2011
In good news for all who cherish religious liberty, the Supreme Court has decided to let stand a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Christian charity World Vision was within its legal rights to fire three employees who, after signing the ministry's doctrinal statement, admitted to denying the Deity of Christ.
The importance of this ruling is obvious and profound: If an explicitly religious organization requires employees to sign a doctrinal statement, and they do so of their own free will, that organization has every right to terminate the employment of those who no longer subscribe to the beliefs articulated in the group's own statement of faith. In the words of World Vision president Richard Stearns, "our Christian faith has been the foundation of your work since the organization was established in 1950, and our hiring policy is vital to the integrity of our mission to serve the poor as followers of Jesus Christ".
World Vision's principled stand was stated by its VP and Chief Legal Officer, Steve McFarland, who noted that WV would stop taking federal funds before employing anyone who could not, in good conscience, support its doctrinal positions.
Secularists don't understand the integrated nature of all faith-based activities: In any ministry, a person who welcomes guests at a reception desk is representing Christ as surely as the ordained minister behind the pulpit. Sacred and secular are not, for Christians, distinct domains. Jesus claims Lordship over all of life, and ministries recognizing this know they cannot but weaken their missions and ministries if they hire those who disagree with their beliefs.