A report published Thursday accuses The
Salvation Army of discriminating against its LGBT officers.
The Salvation Army in recent months
launched a campaign in which it denies allegations of discrimination
against the LGBT community.
“The Christian charity discriminates
against LGBT people, but it doesn't want anyone to know about it,”
Graham Gremore in publishing two internal documents that appear
to contradict the organization's public message.
Last month, the Salvation Army posted a
video in which it denied that it discriminates based on sexual
orientation or gender identity.
“For the past few years during the
holiday season, a lot of chatter on social media was saying the
Salvation Army was anti-gay and discriminates against people in the
LGBT community. I felt we needed to be proactive on this,” Lt.
Colonel Ron Busroe, the group's national spokesman, said of the
The organization, however, has a long
history of opposing LGBT rights and even supporting therapies
that seek to turn gay people straight. In 2004, the group
threatened to close operations in New York City unless it was
exempted from offering benefits to the partners of its gay employees.
In various countries, the Salvation Army has opposed repeal of laws
which criminalized gay sex (New Zealand) or prohibited the discussion
and/or “promotion” of homosexuality (Britain).
In 2001, The
Washington Post reported the “Bush administration is
working with the nation's largest charity, the Salvation Army, to
make it easier for government-funded religious groups to engage in
hiring discrimination against homosexuals, according to an internal
Salvation Army document.”
The document “defines the charity's
objectives as making sure states and localities can't 'impose the
category of sexual orientation to the list of anti-discrimination
protections' or mandate 'equal benefits to domestic partnerships'
unless religious non-profits are exempt from such provisions.”
Appearing in 2012 on Talking
Liberally, Army Major George Hood told host Stephanie Miller that
discriminating against gay men and lesbians would violate the
organization's mission. Less than a week later, Hood, the group's
chief spokesman at the time, told the Chicago
Tribune that being gay was a “personal choice” that goes
“against the will of God.” Miller, who is openly gay, later
an apology for not challenging Hood's statements on her show.
One of the documents published Thursday
is a 4-page memo from midwest Commissioner Paul Seiler dated February
21, 2014 and emailed to officers in the Salvation Army's Central
Territory, which serves Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota,
South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana.
In his “not for public use” memo,
Seiler reiterates the group's opposition to marriage equality and
expectations that unmarried officers “be celibate in their
expression of their sexuality.”
“Leadership roles in denominational
activities such as teaching or holding local officer roles require
certain adherence to consistently held spiritual beliefs,” the
letter states. “This would apply to any conduct inconsistent with
Salvation Army beliefs and would include same-sex sexual
Siler also states that Salvation Army
officers cannot marry gay couples or attend the wedding of a same-sex
couple in uniform, and that doing so may result in “termination.”
Jennifer Byrd, director of
communications for the Salvation Army, told Gremore in an email that
the organization “serves 30 million people a year without
discrimination” and “our non-discriminatory employment practices
have been overlooked, misconstrued or misunderstood in recent years.”
“We are not trying to argue with the
Salvation Army's theological views,” Gremore
wrote. “It can believe what it wants to believe. The problem
is, these beliefs, which are shared privately among SA insiders, are
at direct odds with the organization's public message, which states,
in blanket terms, that it does not discriminate based on sexual