Earlier this month, a Canadian woman who coordinated the local effort for an international Christian charity got a surprise–she had to sign a statement certifying that she opposed abortion and marriage equality if she wanted to keep her post. Rather than sign, she walked out on the charity altogether.
Kay Cossar lives in Burgeo, a small town on the south coast of Newfoundland. For the past 17 winters, she had been a regional coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, the project that sends shoeboxes filled with toys and other items to needy children around the world during the holiday season. It’s one of the most visible efforts of Samaritan’s Purse, the charity operated by Franklin Graham. Watch this promotional video about the project.
Cossar first signed on with Operation Christmas Child after hearing about it from her church. By her reckoning, she has helped distribute over 4,400 boxes over the years.
Since Cossar served as a year-round Samaritan’s Purse volunteer, she was periodically asked to confirm her agreement with the charity’s statement of faith. However, when she received that statement in the mail in late January, Cossar discovered that it contained two new items:
“We believe God’s plan for human sexuality is to be expressed only within the context of marriage, that God created man and woman as unique biological persons made to complete each other. God instituted monogamous marriage between male and female as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female.”
“We believe that human life is sacred from conception to its natural end; and that we must have concern for the physical and spiritual needs of our fellow men.”
Cossar was dumbfounded. She couldn’t believe she was being asked to sign something like this “in this day and age.” She returned the statement unsigned, and enclosed a typed letter explaining that she did not agree with those sentiments. She made her views very clear in an interview with CBC Radio:
“I do believe that same-sex people should be able to marry and I do believe that a woman has the right to make a choice regarding abortion.”
Last week, Cossar got a call from the Atlantic regional manager telling her that she was “no longer suitable” to be a regional coordinator because she was not willing to sign the revised faith statement. To its credit, the charity offered her a chance to stay on as a rank-and-file volunteer.
However, Cossar declined. While she considered her work to be a “labour of love,” she decided that she couldn’t in good conscience stay on in any capacity. She believed she was working with a charity that was “all about the children and the generosity and kindness.” However, she now thinks that it is really about “adults and their antiquated points of view.”
In response, Samaritan’s Purse Canada spokesman Jeff Adams confirmed that the international organization had indeed amended its statement of faith just a few months ago. He said that it felt compelled to do so “not because our view on these issues had changed, but simply because the world’s views on these has changed to the point where we felt the need to again remind our volunteers that our organization accepts the Bible as the inspired and infallible word of God.”
Cossar shared her experience on Facebook, and suggested that anyone who supports Samaritan’s Purse “may want to reconsider.” Apparently a lot of people feel the same way. As of Sunday morning, her post has been shared over 800 times. That comes as no surprise. For the most part, Canadian born-agains aren’t as hung up on wedge issues as we in the States are.
While you have to give Samaritan’s Purse credit for not pushing Cossar out altogether, we should all applaud her for walking out and standing up for what she believes in.