Salvation Army says it supports LGBTQ despite religious doctrine against gays

Wed. December 15, 2021 10:24 AM by Gerald Farinas

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The Christian denomination shows evidence of its support of LGBTQ persons in a campaign against protests and critics

The Salvation Army, a Christian denomination that identifies with the Methodist family of denominations, is on the defense this year as Christmas contributions slow. Long a target for LGBTQ protest due to perceived anti-LGBTQ beliefs, the denomination claims to want to help LGBTQ persons.

The denomination has a training center in what is popularly known as the "Boystown" enclave of Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. It is an LGBTQ entertainment district.

"We want to serve the most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic," the denomination said. "These are the people we care for, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or gender orientation. Our hearts, services, and facilities are welcome to all."

This is despite a positional statement by the Salvation Army issued in 2012 against marriage equality and what it deems as "homosexual behavior."

"The Bible teaches that God's intention for humankind is that society should be ordered on the basis of lifelong, legally sanctioned heterosexual unions," the statement said.

"Homosexual practice however, is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable," it continued. "Such activity is chosen behavior 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 in the Army."

A webpage defending its LGBTQ inclusiveness cites how it helps LGBTQ persons in need.

"Each of our homeless shelters, transitional housing programs, permanent supportive housing services, and re-entry resources are available to anyone in need, according to their need and our capacity to help regardless of ... sexual orientation. Period," they said.

"Because a majority of homeless LGBTQ people are under 18, we take special care of that vulnerable community."

As an example of that, Salvation Army points to its partnership in Houston, Tex. It is a specifically LGBTQ homeless youth organization.

"Young Adult Resource Center works closely with Tony's Place to provide support and empower homeless LGBTQ youth, the YARC says.

They also cite its support of transgender persons.

"Almost one-third of transgender people have been rejected from an emergency shelter. This is why The Salvation Army in Southern Nevada created a safe dorm in Las Vegas to offer safety and shelter to this group, which is statistically more vulnerable to assault," they claim.

Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper confirmed the claim. They noted it in a story about transgender shelters in 2015.

The Salvationists, as they are called, also said they help with food insecurity many LGBTQ persons must suffer through.

"More than a quarter of LGBTQ Americans are food insecure and rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As one of the nation's largest providers of social services, we understand the importance of helping people maintain their dignity when looking for nutritious food by providing options."

Among other programs the Salvationists say are open to LGBTQ persons is mental health and job training.

What do the Salvationists have to say about its LGBTQ critics?

"The Salvation Army rejects any form of discrimination, and we are commited to addressing any instance of discriminatory actions or statements in our services or our employment practices," it said.

It also noted that they follow all employment non-discrination laws where it employs the public, "We welcome and encourage a diverse workforce because it helps us better serve a diverse community."

"The Salvation Army provides the same benefits to all of its employees, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression."

The challenge to dispel any notions of anti-LGBTQ discrimination is made difficult by a list of people who have come out in publications across the country, and on social media, noting discrimination they faced in service lines.

Ahead of Thanksgiving 2019 in USA TODAY newspaper, Cmmdr. David Hudson said in his op-ed, "We don't ask anyone their orientation, identity or beliefs, to help ensure that they feel welcome and safe. So while we can't claim an exact number, we believe by sheer size and access that we are the largest provider of poverty relief for people in the LGBTQ community."

"Yet because our organization is rooted in faith, a chorus repeatedly rises that insists we are anti-LGBTQ," Hudson admitted. "And that refrain is dangerous to the very community we are wrongly accused of rejecting."

"At minimum, perpetuating rhetoric that vilifies an organization with the reach, housing, programming and resources that we have in place to lift them up is counterintuitive and inefficient. But when that organization depends on the generosity of donors to provide much-needed assistance to so many across all walks of life, it's devastating."

Vox reported when Ellie Goulding threatened to cancel a performance for the 2019 NFL Thanksgiving Day Halftime Show which was also the kickoff of the religion's Red Kettle Campaign. After hearing the Salvationists' defense, she performed in the show.

"In our 150-plus-year history, there unfortunately have been individuals who misrepresented our theology through actions and speech motivated by their own personal biases, but those few instances do not define The Salvation Army," Hudson said.