A federal appeals court in San Francisco has ruled that World Vision, a Christian humanitarian relief organization, can hire and fire employees based on its statement of faith.
In a 2 to 1 ruling on Jan. 25, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a legally protected practice of hiring people who share the same faith.
The case involved three former employees of World Vision who were fired in 2007 because it was found they lied and did not agree with the organization's statement of faith.
World Vision contended that its hiring practices were covered as a religious organization under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
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.