Without a doubt, the folks at the Baltimore-based World Relief have an important job.
The Christian non-profit is one a handful of agencies contracted by the federal government to help with refugee resettlement. I attended the opening of a World Relief office in the northeastern Indiana city of Fort Wayne last year and left impressed with the compassion and care the organization showed toward recent immigrants coming from countries with rights and conditions few Americans could fathom, let alone stomach themselves.
The organization, however, has generated a growing controversy over its recently instituted hiring practices insisting that only Christians are allowed to work for it. A Chicago Tribune story published recently points out World Relief has suffered a mass exodus of local employees, including Christians who find the hiring parameters distasteful.
Also tied up in the controversy, inevitably, is money. The question becomes should the organization be allowed to accept federal dollars despite hiring practices which could easily run afoul of civil rights laws?
As I often tell my kids, there are always at least two sides to every argument, and the second one here clearly is faith-based. As a Christian organization, does World Relief have every right to pick and choose who it hires regardless of where it’s funding comes from? An argument could be made it is taking a firm stand for its belief structure.
This is clearly a thorny, multi-faceted issue. I welcome your commentary.