Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Christian Horizons and the Human Rights Commission

Yesterday Jim mentioned to me a Human Rights Commission thing that Christian Horizons is undergoing right now. here's another piece on that. Have to admit, I was stunned.

Background: I worked for many years with this organization. It is very much client-focused, and a very much a faith-based organization. It very much encourages the things of God. It is by no means perfect, some of the things it did seemed odd to me, but that did not detract from the fact that it tried HARD to promote the name of God in service to special needs people.

I had already learned by the time I started working at Christian Horizons (CH) that service industries fell into two spheres...client focused or staff focused. Rarely a good balance between the two. CH tried HARD to be very client focused, sometimes to the detriment of staffing, but that's part of life serving the special needs population. I dislike the staff focused approach as it does not respect the dignity of the people being served.

My understanding of Christian Horizons (CH) is that it is a charitable organization, that is has been deemed a ministry ..... much like a church is...where their senior staff can get housing discounts much like a pastor can in many church denominations. So it's a legitimate mission organization.

One of their things is therefore to encourage godly behaviour among it's staff. No drinking on the job --- and no encouragement to do so off the job either. No sex outside of the bonds of marriage. NO same gender relationships, and such like.

They even have a moral code/lifestyle thing that staff are expected to sign. This is what that covers:
The organization's morality pledge did not single out gays and lesbians. It made all employees promise to refrain from a host of sexual and personal behaviours CH believes are prohibited for Christians, including "homosexual relationships," "extra-marital sexual relationships (adultery)," "pre-marital sexual relationships (fornication)," "viewing or reading pornographic material," "endorsing" alcohol or cigarettes and "lying.
Some of it was an honour system. Such as if college students shared co-ed housing, it was expected that separate rooms would be maintained, but it wasn't like someone was going to check up on you or anything. I disliked the scenario's presented that if you were out somewhere having a drink or two with your buddies and a client approached that you had to get rid of your drink. That seemed a bit overboard to me. And people could smoke, but had to take their smoke breaks outside off the property. To me that was like...okay...they can smoke on the job just not IN the house, but on the street in front of the house. But people having a drink on their own time with their own friends had to toss their drink??? That made not a whole lot of sense to me.

NOW... I have to be upfront with this. I did not like being required to sign that lifestyle code. What I do outside of my work hours is MY business, not my jobs' business. But it was very much sign or be prepared to be dismissed. At that time I was not prepared to be dismissed.

I also recognize that other jobs have certain moral codes that individuals are expected to adhere to, on or off the job, so in some ways this was no different. AND as this was a ministry, just as pastors and church workers are expected to lead a certain lifestyle, therefore so should I.

Made sense, but I didn't like it.

So in some ways I can understand Ms. Connie Heintz having an issue with Christian Horizons over this whole issue. In a day and age where increasingly the church is under attack for their stance on homosexuality and what that means within the church...for example not letting gay and lesbian into leading positions within the church, and where actively living the lifestyle calls into question their faith, this type of thing was bound to happen sooner or later. Just as genuine churches are being challenged, so will a para-church organization be challenged on it.

An attempt was made a while back in regards to this as well, but it was unsuccessful, this challenge seems to be more successful.

I do hope that CH fights this to the highest levels. I really do. It has ramifications all across the board for all types of Christian service agencies and para-church organizations. How can we hold to the truth of God's word?

More information on this case can be found here and here.

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