Salvation Army denies it is anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) amidst growing criticisms from the public and calls for people not to give donations to the said international Christian charitable institution. Salvation Army said that their mission is to provide services to those people in need without resorting to discrimination. According to Parker Vandergriff, a representative of the public relations firm Brand Public Relations of The Richards Group, said that The Salvation Army is proud of serving the LGBT community and continues to provide them with the needed services every day.
Vandergriff added that The Salvation Army fully complies with the non-discrimination laws of the U.S. and that their hiring policies allow them to hire people regardless of sexual orientation. Bill Miller, the director of The Salvation Army Harbor Light Shelter in Minneapolis reiterated that the Christian charitable institution does not discriminate and that “We’re here to serve in the name of Jesus Christ in the one way He commanded us to do it – with love and without discrimination.”
Salvation Army runs charity shops, shelter for the homeless as well as providing humanitarian aid to poor and developing countries around the world. The organization was founded by William and Catherine Booth in 1865 following basic Christian beliefs. In the U.S. the organization has 7,546 centers located in communities spread across the country.
The recent denials from the Salvation Army that it is anti-LGBT came after an online community called for a boycott against donating to the charitable institution. In a December statement which appeared on their website, Noredkettles said that donating to the Salvation Army this Christmas is like giving money to a religious institution that is supporting the anti-gay movement.
The website then suggested that people should give their donations instead to the other secular charitable institutions that do not discriminate like the American Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, UNICEF, The Trevor Project or the Heifer International.
Zinnia Jones, an Orlando-based atheist, activist and a video blogger listed in her column The Salvation Army’s activities over the years that support its anti-LGBT stand. In 1986, its branch in New Zealand actively lobbied and collected signatures to oppose the passage of the Homosexual Law Reform Act. The act was meant to repeal the law that penalizes sex between adult men. Salvation Army later apologized for going against the reform act.
The U.S. Salvation Army in 1998 refused a $3.5 million contract with the city of San Francisco causing the closure of several programs meant to serve the senior citizens and the homeless of the city. The charitable institution did not push through with the contract because of the city’s ordinance to provide spousal benefits to same-sex partners. Similar instance also happened in New York in 2004 when the charitable institution threatened to close down all its existing services due to the implementation of the same ordinance.
In 2000, The Salvation Army of Scotland opposed the repeal of the law that prohibits the teaching of homosexuality as a normal family relationship. They believe that if ever the law was passed, it will promote homosexuality in schools and will encourage children to be gays.
The Salvation Army of Burlington, Vermont in 2012 stood by their decision to fire their employee, Danielle Morantez after discovering she was bisexual. They said that it is their right as an employer to make employment decision on the basis of an employee’s conduct which is not compatible with the principles of the organization.
Just recently, Wayne Besen, the founder of Truth Wins Out, wrote in his article about the practice of The Salvation Army to refer people to organizations that believe that homosexuality is a form of sickness that can be cured. These organizations include “ex gay” ministries like Harvest USA an affiliate of Exodus International and Pure Life Ministries.
Besen said that The Salvation Army must get its act together. They cannot be both pro-gay and still hold the belief that homosexuality is a sickness that can be cured at the same time. He added that it is cruel for the charitable institution to send people to abusive programs that can only further diminish their self-esteem and self-respect. Besen believes that the recent moves of The Salvation Army denying its anti-gay stand is just for press release material meant to generate support and get funding back to prop its beleaguered image.
Even with these growing accusations leveled against the charitable institution, the Salvation Army denies it is anti-LGBT. They believe as what is stated in their website, that many people including those belonging to the LGBT community still support them with time and financial resources because of their common commitment which is to serve the people in need. This commitment is embodied in their vision and mission.
By Roberto I. Belda