Salvation Army under fire from LGBT community

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By Malissa Rogers

Everyone can recall the site of a red bucket and the sound of a bell outside of their supermarket, essentially marking the beginning of the Christmas season. However, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign has recently made headlines again as LGBT rights advocates urge holiday shoppers to stop donating to the organization.

America’s Blog has encouraged LGBT supporters to donate downloadable “vouchers” to the bell ringers (view below), instead of money, to show that “bigotry is not a Christmas value.” The voucher states that as a supporter of the LGBT community, “I will not donate” to a discriminatory organization, such as the Salvation Army.   

“George Hood, a senior official with the Salvation Army, said the group never discriminates in delivering its services,” the Washington Post stated. “But on the question of hiring gay employees [he said]‘it really begins to chew away at the theological fabric of who we are.’”

This isn’t the first time that the Salvation Army’s views have been brought to the public’s attention. In November 2011, Bilerco Project blogger Bil Browning called on holiday shoppers to halt their donations to the Salvation Army because of the organizations conservative stance on homosexuality.

“The Salvation Army discriminates against gay people, and discriminating donors should find another charity this Christmas than evangelical bigots who advocate against our civil rights,” blogger John Aravosis writes. “The organization also has a record of actively lobbying governments worldwide for anti-gay policies — including an attempt to make consensual gay sex illegal.”

Earlier this year, Major Anthony Craibe, an Australian Salvation Army official implied that LGBT people should be put to death and that it was “a part of our belief system.” His words echoed throughout the gay community and sparked international outcry.

In response to Craibe’s statement, Salvation Army spokesperson Major Bruce Harmer released his own statement, “The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of all human life…we consider every person to be of infinite value, and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and preserved.” 

The Salvation Army began in London, founded in 1865 by Methodist preacher William Booth. Today, the organization operates throughout the world in 122 countries; helping the poor and those afflicted by addiction. However, the Salvation Army’s “Position Statement” states that homosexual conduct can only be guided by scripture, which states that intimacy between members of the same sex is forbidden.

Within recent years, collection amounts have been considerably large for the Salvation Army, but not all of that money reaches poor, hungry or homeless people. According to the New York Times, each local unit of “red kettles” pays ten percent of its revenue to one of the forty state or regional divisions throughout the country, and every division pays 10 percent to one of four national territories. In the end each of the four national territories provides a quarter of the government’s budget, which could mean that the money donated could ultimately be used for lobbying in Washington.

“The Salvation Army has a history of active discrimination against gays and lesbians,” Browning said.  “While you might think you’re helping the hungry and homeless by dropping a few dollars in the bright red buckets, not everyone can share in the donations.” 

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