SEATTLE, WA World Vision, a religious humanitarian relief organization, can hire and terminate employees based on its statement of faith, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.
In a 2-1 ruling issued Jan. 25, the court upheld a legally protected practice of hiring people who share the same faith. The case has been closely watched by religious organizations that use faith-based criteria in hiring and receive federal funding.
The court rejected a petition to re-hear a case involving three former World Vision employees where were terminated in 2007. The employees were found to have lied about their agreement with the organization's statement of faith.
Although the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits religious discrimination, the court ruled 2-1 in August that World Vision was exempt from Title VII of the act for "a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities."
In a news release issued after the ruling, World Vision officials said that they hoped that the Jan. 25 court action would settle the long-standing dispute by its former employees.
"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," the statement said.
World Vision is committed to defend their ability to hire employees who share their faith.
"We hire Christians, imperfect and flawed, not because we think they are superior, but because we believe that any real success will come only through the presence of Christ in each employee's heart and His power through prayer in each staff member's mind and hands," according to World Vision's website.