Nick Kristof writes approvingly in the New York Times about faith based aid organisations:
Some liberals are pushing to end the longtime practice (it’s a myth that this started with President George W. Bush) of channeling American aid through faith-based organizations. That change would be a catastrophe. In Haiti, more than half of food distributions go through religious groups like World Vision that have indispensable networks on the ground….. 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.
I have two observations about this.
First, it is an indictment of the aid system that we have no way of knowing whether these organisations are more effective, less effective, or about the same, as their non-religious counterparts. Kristof’s claim that they are “indispensible” is completely without evidence either way.
Second, World Vision, which as Kristof says is the US’s largest development and organisation, has an explicit policy against hiring non-Christians:.
World Vision United States has diverse opportunities for qualified and committed Christian professionals who are willing to share the life, light, and hope of Christ.
All applicants for staff positions with World Vision United States will be screened for Christian commitment. The screening process will include:
– Discussion with the applicant of his/her spiritual journey and relationship with Jesus Christ;
– Understanding of Christian principles;
– Understanding and acceptance of World Vision’s Statement of Faith and/or The Apostles’ Creed
Either religion is irrelevant to the work these organisations do, in which case they should not discriminate on the basis of religion in their hiring; or religion is important in the work they do, in which case they should not be allowed to spend public money in its pursuit.
Even if you believe that these organisations should be allowed to discriminate against possible employees on the basis of religious belief, this surely means that they cannot be allowed to receive money from the taxpayer, or be used as a contractor for government aid.
So those people (whom Kristof calls “liberals”) who want to stop channelling taxpayer money through organisations that discriminate on the basis of religion must surely be correct.