I recently received a letter from Major John E. Turner, Divisional Commander of the Indiana Divisional Headquarters of The Salvation Army in response to a message I wrote to them when they sent me a form for a donation.
In his letter, Major Turner told me that The Salvation Army believes that all people are equal, regardless of sexual orientation or any other factors, including race, gender and ethnicity. He also said that their Mission is to "preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination." He said the only requirement to receive service is to demonstrate need.
Attached to the letter were two pages which addressed the Internet rumors. Included was their statement that The Salvation Army does not condone turning anyone away who needs assistance. He said that they take very seriously any allegations of discrimination.
Other items addressed was that they do not employ lobbyists at the national level, that they do provide benefits to same-sex partners of employees, and that in 2004 they did not threaten to stop providing services in New York City rather than abide by a new city ordinance requiring all city contractors to provide employee benefits to same-sex partners.
Also included in this list of items was this statement: "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."
On November 26, 2012, on Talking Liberally - Live Chat with Stephanie Miller, Salvation Army Major George Hood stated that discriminating against gay men and lesbians would violate the organization's mission. He said that being gay was "a personal choice that people have the right to make. But from a church viewpoint, we see that going against the will of God."
He also said that a statement the group issued calling on gay Christians to "embrace celibacy as a way of life" was removed from The Salvation Army's website last year. Hood said it was a theological statement not meant for an external audience and it was creating a lot of confusion.
I'm not sure, but it seems to me that The Salvation Army did a bit of damage control and no one told Major Turner here in Indiana. I expect they removed this statement from their webpage to keep outrage to a minimum. But it is what it is. I resent the idea of anyone expecting any group of people to be celibate (except nuns and priests who apparently want to live that way). So I wrote a letter back to Major Turner, explaining how I feel. It is included below.