Chris Herlinger, who reports for Church World Service (a relief and development organization similar to CRS), writes an excellent article about secular and faith-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs). He notes that among NGOs, often the secular groups are considered the most professional while faith-based NGOs are sometimes considered second tier. Posted on America magazine, he goes on to write:
I can only speak as someone who reports for Church World Service, which has ties to a wide network of other agencies—Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox—but it often seems that some of the more common accusations against faith-based groups cut both ways. In my travels, I have met dozens of workers for faith-based groups who are committed, talented and deeply, deeply professional. And I have met young, inexperienced staff members working for secular groups in tough, demanding places too.
In the end, most of these humanitarian organizations, faith-based or secular, have more that unites us than divides us. And the more prominent faith-based groups I have worked with—like C.W.S., L.W.F. and C.R.S.—are united even more closely. But our bond is not forged over the occasional need to defend ourselves from accusations or a desire to separate ourselves from secular aid groups. Rather, we are united in our shared desire to support very basic humanitarian principles, including refraining from proselytizing, and in the fact that we treat all of those affected by disasters without discrimination or favor. Greatest need is, and should be, the priority for all of us who do humanitarian work, not factors like religious affiliation, political beliefs or ethnicity. Christian commitment undergirds what we do; and while these groups seek to touch hearts, conversion is not part of our agenda.