The Salvation Army has suggested gays be celibate, jobless, homeless, and dead. But they’re really not anti-gay.
“On the question of hiring gay employees, ‘it really begins to chew away at he theological fabric of who we are.’” – Salvation Army, 2001 (and there are far more recent examples below)
Every year I consider it my own little personal mission to educate people about the true face of the far-right, anti-gay, evangelical Christian activist church that calls itself the Salvation Army.
Let’s walk through the anti-gay horror that is the Salvation Army. There is so much information, the list of anti-gay sleights is quite large. But it’s important that people be well-armed. The Salvation Army is a hateful, intolerant, simply awful organization that goes out of its way around the world to hurt gay people. They consider themselves an evangelical church. And boy are they.
Please download our coupons and give them to the Salvation Army instead of your hard-earned money. Feel free to give to any other non-hateful organization this holiday season, but avoid the Salvation Army.
2012: Salvation Army Official Says Non-Celibate Gays Deserve to Die
On the 21st of June 2012, in an interview with Melbourne radio station Joy 94.9 FM, Major Andrew Craibe, the Salvation Army’s Territorial Media Relations Director for the Southern Territory in Victoria, stated that non-celibate gay people deserved to die. He explained that this was part of the Salvation Army’s belief system, as discussed in “Salvation Story: Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine.” He also claimed in the interview that being gay was a choice, like the consumption of alcohol.
And here’s the audio:
In the interview, Ryan told Major Craibe that she had read the Salvation Story: Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine, published in London. She went on to point out several parts which she found disturbing including “The problem of evil” (page 28) which cites Romans 1:18-32 and its vitriolic condemnation of homosexuality.
“For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. . .
“They know God’s decree, that those who practise such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practise them.”
Asked whether the Salvation Army took the wording literally, i.e. that practising homosexuals should be put to death, the Major Craibe replied in the affirmative. Truth Wins Out transcribed the resulting discussion
CRAIBE: Well, that’s a part of our belief system.
RYAN (cutting in): So we should die.
CRAIBE: You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief.
RYAN: Wow. So we should die.
It goes on just as bad.
2012: Salvation Army Called Homosexuality “An Unacceptable Urge,” Defended Discrimination Against Non-Celibate Gays
And let’s zoom forward to just this year, when the Salvation Army headquarters called homosexuality “an unacceptable urge” and defended discriminating against promoting gays who aren’t celibate.
On June 18, 2012 the Salvation Army was featured in an ABC news report that stated “Salvos back away from anti-gay comments” in which the [local] army stated “The Salvation Army in Australia is distancing itself from a statement by its international parent organisation that homosexuality is “an unacceptable urge“.”
2012: Salvation Army Takes Position Against Gay Marriage in UK and Australia, Trying to Influence Legislation
Then there’s the fact that in 2012 the Salvation Army took a position against gay marriage on its UK Web site. And the Salvation Army lobbied against gay marriage in Australia too.
Anna Brown, convener of the Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, said the charity had also opposed gay marriage at a House of Representatives inquiry.
“Actively campaigning against marriage equality is counter to the principles of compassion and humanity, and these are the very values that motivate most Australians to donate to the Salvation Army,” she said.
“It’s difficult to reconcile how an organisation seeking to alleviate social disadvantage can play a role in perpetuating views … founded in prejudice (that) cause significant harm to the health and wellbeing of gay, lesbian and transgender Australians and their families.”
“Homosexual practice would render any person ineligible for full membership (soldiership) in the [Salvation] Army”
More on that “homosexual urge” quote – I found it on the Salvation Army Australia’s own Web site a number of years ago:
“[Homosexual activity is] as rebellion against God’s plan for the created order…. Homosexual practice, however, is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable. Such activity is chosen behaviour and is thus a matter of the will. It is therefore able to be directed or restrained in the same way heterosexual urges are controlled. Homosexual practice would render any person ineligible for full membership (soldiership) in the [Salvation] Army.” – Salvation Army Australia Web site (emphasis added)
That’s yet another pretty clear statement that the Salvation Army support(ed) discrimination against gays.
2012: Salvation Army Allegedly Fires Employee for Being Bisexual
After a great deal of soul-searching, I realized that I couldn’t, so I decided to take the next step in discussing my concerns with my supervisor in accordance with employee handbook’s “conflict resolution” section: last Friday afternoon I handed Captain Stephanie a letter. In it, I came out as a bisexual woman, expressed my concerns about the aforementioned passages in the employee handbook, and attached copies of the same….
I arrived on the 23rd exhausted from a weekend filled with stress and anxiety. Imagine my surprise, then, when Captains Bill and Stephanie informed me that they had decided not to fire me, that they respected my integrity and honesty, and that they were deeply grateful for my presence on the Salvation Army team. They even said that Asit George, a Salvation Army Major who outranked them, had approved their decision, saying that it was completely fine to keep me on staff. I asked the captains point blank if I needed to be worried about the jeopardy of my job any further, and they said “no.”
I was so relieved to be able to keep both my job and my integrity that Adam and I went out for lunch to celebrate. After my break, Capt. Stephanie and I began packing backpacks full of brand-new school supplies for distribution to the children of low-income families. We had a wonderful and candid conversation about family dynamics, our belief systems, and our pasts.
Forced to Fire Me
The conversation was interrupted by Captain Bill, who summoned Stephanie into his office. They both returned at about 4pm, their eyes brimming with tears. We returned to the office, where they told me that they had just been informed that their decision to keep me had been overruled. Captains Bill and Stephanie were being forced to fire me. Their superiors told them that they were not allowed to even discuss it with me – I was to sign an exit interview sheet and they were to immediately escort me from the property.
Feeling shocked and deeply betrayed, I asked if I could at least show them my system for reorganizing files, so that they could more efficiently help the clients in my absence. They agreed. Stephanie was heartbroken. She cried the entire time we went through the paperwork, continuously apologizing to me and saying that firing me was “the worst thing [she's] ever had to do.” Captain Bill said that he was only allowed to say what the Salvation Army told him to and that since he was forbidden from revealing his own personal opinion, he would not say another word.
And for the rest of the time, he didn’t. He just sat there with tears in his eyes.
Salvation Army USA Turned Away Gay Couple in Need
But what about Hood’s other assertion, that of course the Salvation Army would never discriminate against gays in its provision of services? Well, ask gay blogger Bil Browning and his boyfriend – because they say the Salvation Army discriminated against them because they’re gay. From the NYT, last year:
Bil Browning and his boyfriend were homeless. To protect the identity of the boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend), Mr. Browning will not say specifically where, just that it was in “southern Indiana,” about 20 years ago. But he is very explicit about who refused to give them shelter.“The Salvation Army refused to help us,” Mr. Browning recalls, “unless we broke up and then left the ‘sinful homosexual lifestyle’ behind. We slept on the street, and they didn’t help when we declined to break up at their insistence.”
Mr. Browning’s boyfriend was wearing a “Silence = Death” AIDS pin on his jacket, which must have tipped off the Salvation Army worker. “He told us we needed to be saved,” Mr. Browning says. “If we were willing to attend church services, he could help. We would have to break up, only one of us could stay in the shelter, and if there was room for the other, he would have to be on the opposite side of the room, and we wouldn’t even look at each other.”
2011: Salvation Army Calls on Gays to be Celibate
And here’s quote the NYT pulled from the Salvation Army Web site last year, before the SA changed the link and put something completely different up there, in order to make them sound super pro-gay:
The Salvation Army’s “Position Statement” on homosexuality, found on its Web site, reads in part: “The Salvation Army does not consider same-sex orientation blameworthy in itself. Homosexual conduct, like heterosexual conduct, requires individual responsibility and must be guided by the light of scriptural teaching. Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life.”
So, the Salvation Army, that is simply about helping people, has a stated position that gay people should be celibate.
What does that have to do with helping poor people, having a public statement on your Web site telling gay people to be celibate? Sure not sounding like your run of the mill charity, are they?
2004: Salvation Army Threatens to Stop Serving NYC Rather than Obey Pro-gay Law
The NYT also notes that in 2004, the Salvation Army threatened to pull out of NYC after the city council passed an ordinance requiring that organizations that get contracts with the city must provide benefits to the partners of gay employees. Again, they’re not simply a charity.
2001: Salvation Army Secretly Works with Bush Administration to Make it Easier to Discriminate Against Gays
Back in 2001, the salvation Army’s George Hood was interviewing with the Washington Post because the Salvation Army got caught secretly asking the Bush administration to make it easier for government-funded organizations to discriminate against gays:
“The [Bush’ administration is working with the nation’s largest charity, the Salvation Army, to make it easier for government-funded religious groups to practice hiring discrimination against gay people, according to an internal Salvation Army document.
The White House has made a “firm commitment” to the Salvation Army to issue a regulation protecting such charities from state and city efforts to prevent discrimination against gays in hiring and domestic- partner benefits, according to the Salvation Army report. The Salvation Army, in turn, has agreed to use its clout to promote the administration’s “faith-based” social services initiative, which seeks to direct more government funds to religious charities….
George Hood, a senior official with the Salvation Army, said the group never discriminates in delivering its services, but on the question of hiring gay employees, ‘it really begins to chew away at he theological fabric of who we are.’”- Washington Post, 7/10/2001.
Yeah, no one knows how these rumors about the Salvation Army being anti-gay got started. No one except the Salvation Army.
2001: Salvation Army Rescinds Domestic Partner Benefits for Gay Employees on West Coast
The Salvation Army Western Territory approved a plan in October 2001 to start offering domestic-partnership benefits to gay employees. Members of various evangelical Christian interest groups protested the decision. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson excoriated the Salvation Army for abandoning its “moral integrity” and urged his radio listeners to bombard the organization’s offices with phone calls and letters. The American Family Association also accused the Salvation Army of a “monstrous … appeasement of sin” that resulted in a “betrayal of the church.” In November 2001 The Salvation Army nation wide rescinded the Western Territory’s decision with an announcement that it would only provide benefits coverage for different-sex spouses and dependent children of its employees.
2000: Salvation Army Lobbies Against Repeal of Hideously Anti-Gay Law in Scotland
The amendment stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.
1980s: Salvation Army Lobbies for Anti-gay Laws in New Zealand
The Salvation Army also had a history of lobbying for anti-gay laws in New Zealand all the way back to the 1980s.
Now let’s revisit Stephanie Miller’s interview last year with Salvation Army Spokesman George Hood, who’s a big old liar
STEPHANIE MILLER: We’ve gotten a lot of letters about the Salvation Army being anti-gay, can you address that?
SALVATION ARMY’S GEORGE HOOD: Well it’s a great misunderstanding that’s spread across the country, and we’re doing everything we can to re-educate and help people understand that the very mission of the Salvation Army calls for meeting the needs of humans without discrimination…. So discrimination is not something that we would gladly carry the banner or pride over, we want to dispel the notion that we do discriminate when the fact is we’re working very hard not discriminating and it is a part of our mission.
MILLER: You know, Chris, you can help me with some of the things, you know, again, you’re right, Major, once things get out there, you know…
HOOD: Many of those things start fueling through blog sites and postings on the Internet and it’s really really tough to shut them down when they get out there.
MILLER: And you don’t discriminate against hiring gays?
HOOD: We do not. We have many who work for us and will gladly tell you they work for us. It’s not a question that we ask in an interview process.
That is a lie, straight from the mouth of the Salvation Army’s number one spokesman who has held the job for years. How do we know? From a quote a Salvation Army spokesman gave to the Washington Post. That spokesman’s name is George Hood – the same man who denied all of this to Stephanie Miller last year:
George Hood, a senior official with the Salvation Army, said the group never discriminates in delivering its services, but on the question of hiring gay employees, ‘it really begins to chew away at he theological fabric of who we are.’”- Washington Post, 7/10/2001
Download these vouchers and put them in the Salvation Army’s red kettles instead of cash – give your money to a charity that doesn’t hate.
When you give to the Salvation Army, you helped finance their anti-gay advocacy
The Salvation Army has been using a portion of your donations to their little kettles to advocate against the civil rights of gays and lesbians for decades, and they’re still doing it today.
The Salvation Army isn’t simply a charity that “happens” to be evangelical. The Salvation Army is a religious right charity that actively involves itself in promoting an anti-gay agenda. They are dedicated to opposing marriage equality. They are dedicated to advocating that all gays should be celibate. And they have repeatedly said that if you’re not gay and not celibate, then you’re not welcome to work in the upper levels of the Salvation Army.
And at that point, they’re not simply a charity that happens to be evangelical. They’re anti-gay religious right political activists who happen to do charity work. And I’m happy to help out charity when I can, but there are a lot of charities to give to, and I don’t need to give my money to someone who takes a portion of those donations in their little red kettles and sends them to the mother ship to advocate for anti-gay politics.
And yes, the money you put in that red kettle is being used to finance the Salvation Army’s campaign against gay and lesbian civil rights. From Snopes:
The Salvation Army’s kettle campaign raises up to 70 percent of the Salvation Army’s total annual income.
And at least ten percent of those donations get sent to the higher levels of the Salvation Army to eventually be used as administrative costs for, among other things, anti-gay advocacy. Who pays the guy to write the policy statement against local gay marriage legislation? You do. Don’t believe me about it, here’s the New York Times from 2011:
George Hood, a Salvation Army spokesman, said all revenue from Salvation Army thrift stores is used locally. But he said a small percentage of money dropped into the red kettles finds its way to Washington — where it helps to pay the salaries of politically active staff members like Mr. Hood. Every local unit pays 10 percent of its revenue to a state or regional division — there are 40 divisions in the United States — and every division pays 10 percent of its revenue to one of four national territories, each of which foots a quarter of the national budget.
In other words, of a dollar dropped into a red kettle in New York City, a quarter of a penny ends up at national headquarters, where conversations with the government — not lobbying, Mr. Hood says — may take place.
Not lobbying? Please. What do you call conspiring with Karl Rove to make regulations more amenable to discriminating against gays in employment? What do you call the Salvation Army weighing in, in country after country, against gay marriage, and in favor of anti-gay legislation, for decades now? Not lobbying? Please. Maybe it’s technically not “lobbying,” in the legal definition. But is the Salvation Army using your money to advocate for evangelical causes, including bashing gays, at the federal level worldwide? Yes.
Yet another lie through misdirection from the Salvation Army.
And note that, if it isn’t our old pal Salvation Army spokesman, George Hood, this time trying to downplay how much of your donations go to anti-gay advocacy. Only a quarter of a percent of every penny donated through those Red Kettles goes to the evil Salvation Army religious right activists in Washington, DC. That doesn’t sound like much, does it?
Let’s do the math, George, shall we?
I initially looked at the Salvation Army’s annual income, since that’s what Snopes said – 70% of their annual income comes from the Red Kettles. Well, their annual income is around $2.8 billion a year. If you look at that figure, a huge amount of the Red Kettle money is going to the Salvation Army’s federal advocacy work against you and me, to the tune of $7m a year.
But if you look at it another way, it’s less, but not insignificant:
- Salvation Army’s Hood claims that “only” a quarter of each penny donated through those red kettles goes to the Salvation Army’s ant-gay advocacy and other government advocacy.
- We already know that up to 88% of the Salvation Army’s total annual income is raised from the Red Kettle campaign. But let’s be conservative and use Snopes’ figure of 70% of the Salvation Army’s annual budget coming from the Red Kettles.
- The Salvation Army takes in $190.7 million each year in fundraising dollars.
- So 70% of that income comes from the Red Kettles – that would mean the Salvation Army makes $133m a year from its Red Kettles, and in fact I found a Salvation Army press release from 2011 in which they claim to have made $147.6m least year from their Red Kettle drive.
- “Only” 0.25 cents of every dollar donated (or 0.25%) to the Red Kettle goes to the anti-gay bigots running the Salvation Army in Washington, DC. How much is 0.25% of $147.6m? $369,000.
- So, our donations to the Salvation Army’s Red Kettles are earning the Salvation Army $369,000 every year to spend in Washington, DC to advocate against our civil rights.
It ain’t nothing. And in fact it means that your donations to the Salvation Army are being used for far-right, anti-gay, evangelical advocacy. It doesn’t matter to what degree, the donations are tainted by hate.
Of course, the Salvation Army reports that it actually gets $1.6 billion a year in direct support from the public, presumably from other donations beyond the Red Kettle. Looking at that figure, and applying the same 0.25 cents of every suddenly you find that $4 million a year from the public goes to the Salvation Army’s evangelical advocacy at the federal level.
And that really ain’t nothing.
The Salvation Army isn’t trying to make amends for years of anti-gay prejudice. They’re out there actively lying about their record, and smearing those of who hold them accountable for their bigotry by accusing us of spreading Internet lies on “blog sites and postings on the Internet.”
Nothing says “bad apple” like a church that thinks it’s best defense is a lie.
I won’t go through the entire litany of the Salvation Army’s anti-gay pedigree, but here are a few headline from just last year alone, 2012:
- Salvation Army official says gays deserve to die.
- Salvation Army headquarters calls homosexuality “an uncontrollable urge” that need to be suppressed.
- Salvation Army says they’ll discriminate in hiring against any gays who aren’t celibate.
- Salvation Army UK and Australi take public position against marriage equality in effort to block local pro-gay marriage legislative efforts.
- Salvation Army reportedly fires employee for being bisexual.