Annette Gross

The Continuing Saga of the Salvation Army

Filed By Annette Gross | December 16, 2012 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living
Tags: anti-gay organizations, bell ringers, Indiana, Major George Hood, Major John E. Turner, Salvation Army

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.

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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.

December 15, 2012

Major John E. Turner
Divisional Commander
P.O. Box 88517
Indianapolis, IN 46208-8517

Dear Major Turner,

Thank you for your reply. I appreciate the time you took to send me information about The Salvation Army.

In your letter you pointed out the many ways that your organization affords LGBT people equal rights. That is all well and good. However, I take great offense with two of your statements. One is about Scripture forbidding sexual intimacy between members of the same sex, and that same-sex people are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. The other is your definition

The bible was not written in a vacuum - it was written at a certain time in history in reaction to what was occurring in the world at that time. Our lives today are not like they were in biblical times. In our current society, two adults who willingly share love and commitment is not what was written about centuries ago. Human beings have been evolving and changing for millenia - we cannot remain stagnant. We have to be respectful of the needs of everyone in our current society.

Suggesting that one group of people live by one set of rules, and the rest of us by another, is reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Because certain people did not like the Jews, they were subjected to harsh laws and penalties, and worse. If we are not careful in this country, the same thing will happen here to the LGBT community. As it is, in many cities, they do not have any protections against housing, medical, and workplace discrimination. Many states, including Indiana, do not have anti-bullying laws to protect LGBT students. The LGBT community does not ask for these protections because they want special rights - they NEED these protections because they are victimized, fired from jobs, denied the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital, and are also denied proper health care.

We live in a free country. Your organization has the right to believe what you wish. I am not a Christian, but I believe that a true Christian should show love and caring to all people. I feel that asking one group of people to give up the opportunity to engage in a loving relationship and all of the joys associated with that life experience is disrespectful and presumptuous. Actually, I find it terribly offensive.

In closing, this is why I will not support The Salvation Army. There are many other organizations that offer the same type of services that yours does, and do not ask people like my son to avoid living like an actual human being.

Sincerely,

Annette Gross


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