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World Vision wins right to hire, fire based on religion
Daniel Burke, Religion News Service
August 25, 2010
2 MIN READ TIME

World Vision wins right to hire, fire based on religion

World Vision wins right to hire, fire based on religion
Daniel Burke, Religion News Service
August 25, 2010

World Vision, the Christian

humanitarian organization, can fire employees who disagree with its theological

tenets, a federal appeals court ruled Aug. 23.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that World Vision is a “religious

corporation” and therefore exempt from a federal law that bars faith-based

discrimination.

“I am satisfied that World

Vision has met its burden of showing that the ‘general picture’ of the

organization is `primarily religious,”’ wrote Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain. “World

Vision is a nonprofit organization whose humanitarian relief efforts flow from

a profound sense of religious mission.”’

Three employees, two of whom

had worked at World Vision for 10 years, were fired in 2006 because they did

not believe in the divinity of Jesus or the doctrine of the Trinity, O’Scannlain

wrote.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars religious discrimination, but carves

out an exemption for companies engaged in a religious purpose, the court ruled.

Judge Marsha S. Berzon

dissented from the majority opinion, saying Congress did not intend to allow

all religiously motivated nonprofits to be exempt from the law.

“That interpretation would

severely tip the balance away from the pluralistic vision Congress incorporated

… toward a society in which employers could self-declare as religious

enclaves from which dissenters can be excluded despite their ability to do the

assigned secular work as well as religiously acceptable employees,” Berzon wrote.

The decision comes as

President Obama is weighing whether the government should help fund religious

charities that refuse to hire people of other faiths. White House officials

have said the Justice Department is studying the matter, and decisions will be

made on a case-by-case basis until a final decision is rendered.

World Vision praised the

Ninth Circuit ruling in a statement. “Our Christian faith has been the

foundation of our 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.”