One major impetus for World Vision’s shift away from evangelicalism, according to Van Zile, was an early agreement the evangelical relief group made with pre-existing Christian charities in Europe. World Vision promised it would not intentionally solicit their donors. “So in order to do that, [World Vision] had to sort of go outside of the Evangelical world to get money. That was one of the factors that allowed it to embrace anti-Zionist organizations,” claimed Van Zile.
On Tuesday, an expert on Christian media said the evangelical relief group World Vision must recognize when it is used as a tool in the propaganda war against Israel and restore its evangelical roots if it wants to remain an effective Christian charity.
Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) Dexter Van Zile commented during a timely conference call briefing hosted by The Philos Project. The call focused on the controversy surrounding World Vision’s Gaza employee Mohammed El-Halabi, who currently stands accused of funneling charitable donations to Hamas, a terrorist group.
According to The Wall Street Journal, World Vision International is now disputing Israel’s claim that Halabi used his status as a humanitarian aid worker to embezzle nearly $50 million in donations to fund terrorism and scout out Hamas terror tunnels. Kevin Jenkins, President of World Vision International, called on Israel to conduct an open, transparent process and hold a “fair hearing.”
Van Zile, who grew up in the United Church of Christ (UCC) before converting to Roman Catholicism, said this isn’t the first time World Vision employees have been accused of aiding anti-Israel activists. He noted World Vision staff have spoken at or sponsored events hosted by the anti-Israel Christian groups Friends of Sabeel and Christ at the Checkpoint. According to Van Zile, World Vision staff have vilified Israel in the Israel/Arab conflict yet remain neutral in all other political conflicts.
This narrative results in “misinformation given to donors who really want to help in the Middle East” and represents a departure from World Vision’s Christian roots and backbone in the face of injustices, Van Zile insisted.
“World Vision was founded in 1950 by Robert Pierce who wanted to use the Gospel to stem the tide of communism,” Van Zile explained. “When it started out it was largely American, with American donors who were largely Evangelical Protestants.”
He continued: “Then in the 1970s the organization started to become international, with European and Australian donors, people from where the organization was actually operating. This changed the worldview of the operation. Essentially, it kind of embraced this international, United Nations worldview and detached from its evangelical roots.”
Once World Vision embraced a “secular” United Nations style model, it abandoned a Gospel-centered worldview and consequently, says Van Zile, the push for a globalist worldview lends to diminished value placed on national sovereignty and this means overturning the ideological stronghold of Israel.