Farewell to Tearfund?

Posted in From Lisa’s Lookout10 Gay Marriage10 Homosexuality10 Social justice | No Comments »

My family has supported a little girl through Tearfund for a decade or so and I have flown Tearfund’s flag and donated to it in various ways over the years. No more, however. I redirected our sponsorship from Tearfund to another Christian group which, I am told, will be able to continue to support our child in South America.  I am grateful to Tearfund for facilitating my request. I would have hated to abandon our sponsored child, but as Tearfund now presents itself, I have lost heart to support it. I had no desire to go down this path but felt I had no choice, because of both the Desmond Tutu [right, photo from Tearfund’s site] and Cliff Richard affairs but also because of what they represent more broadly. And Tearfund does not appear to understand.

What exactly is my problem?  Okay, so Desmond Tutu is one of the most vocal gay rights activists on the globe today!  He did not speak about homosexuality at Tearfund’s event, but concentrated upon encouraging the church to fight poverty.  Having just spent a week or so in Uganda, where some horrific instances of poverty came very close to home, I could not agree more.

However, there is far more at stake here than simple issues of joining hands to fight poverty.  If Tutu were, say, a leading figure in cutting-edge responses to poverty but also a rabid racist (or publicly affirmative of some other immoral activity or belief system), would Tearfund have made the same judgment call?  Would it have agreed to set the racism issue to one side and concentrate upon common ground, i.e. concern for the poor? I think not, and rightly so, because it would have known that it was tacitly condoning – or at least accepting – completely unacceptable, nonChristian views. I think the same holds true here.

If Tutu’s moral views were not known around the globe, perhaps this would have made for a different outcome for me. But given the ‘facts on the ground’, to ask him to speak speaks volumes in itself. Moreover, Tearfund did not distance itself from his moral views. In a letter to me, I was informed that

‘Whilst there may be issues where we respectfully hold different views, we are united in our passion to see poverty and injustice tackled and for the local church to play a greater role in that effort …

Tearfund recognises that sexuality is a complex and divisive issue for the Church. It is largely a theological issue with widely different perspectives held within the Church and beyond it.’

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