Bil Browning

Salvation Army employee will be dismissed if he marries a woman

Filed By Bil Browning | December 09, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Johnny Harsh, marriage discrimination, religious objections to marriage, Salvation Army, same-sex marriage

Oh, the shoe is on the other foot now. I wonder where Captain Harsh stands on same sex marriage?

Capt. Johnny Harsh of Oshkosh, Wis., says he's been receiving letters and e-mails from people angered over the Salvation Army's decision to uphold its long-standing rule that an officer in the agency may marry only another officer.

Harsh was suspended from his position as leader of the Oshkosh Salvation Army after he announced his engagement to a woman he named only as "Cia." Harsh's first wife, Capt. Yalanda "Yoley" Harsh, a Salvation Army officer, died suddenly of a heart attack in June. A few months later Harsh said he met Cia, 56, a nurse, on a Christian online dating Web site.

"I prayed and told the Lord, I can't stand being single. Can you please give me a woman on the outside and inside," said Harsh. He said it was love at first sight. "One word describes her. Wow."

Harsh said the organization's rules regarding marriage are outdated, unfair and must be changed, but he doesn't want his personal situation to harm the Salvation Army.
"[The rules] are not scriptural. They are man-made," Harsh said. "God could care less about the uniform or a position. I am doing this so future officers don't have to go through what I went through."

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Criticism of the Salvation Army might seem like criticism of Santa Claus, but people often don't realize that they ARE a very conservative religious organization, and that they ARE very anti-glbt.

The SA has a history of turning away transpeople who seek shelter at their centers, including turning them away for holiday meals. I have also heard of them trying to induce T people they've rescued in disaster situations to detransition and have refused to place them with the appropriate gender of people, or refused to house them. They've done it in my city, and in others, including during natural disasters including Katrina, Gustav, and Ike.

So, what this SA member is experiencing is not surprising. It might be their rules, but their rules are stupid. Which doesn't exactly make them unique among religions.

There are many more deserving charities to contribute to than the SA, if you value human rights and freedom of/from religion.

"God could care less about the uniform . . ."

Does this mean he accepts trans people?

". . . or a position."

Or, gay people?

Rodney Hoffman | December 9, 2008 5:33 PM

You "wonder where Captain Harsh stands on same sex marriage?" Really? You have to ask? As Polar commented earlier, the Salvation Army has a l-o-n-g history of activism against LGBT civil rights. (They were one of the major opponents during New York City's years-long battle to enact an employment non-discrimination law.)

LGBT people should support other worthy organizations that help the needy, and NEVER put money in the Salvation Army kettles, and LET THEM KNOW WHY.

That's so weird. I didn't know that they had such a rule or that they justified it with religion.

So, like, do they not realize that they're just a nonprofit, not the clergy?