The Salvation Army red kettles that sit outside storefronts during the Christmas season are causing some gay groups to see red. LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) activists are calling for a boycott of the Salvation Army’s annual red kettle drive because of its stance on homosexuality.
Bil Browning, writing on the LGBQT blog The Bilerico Project, said, “As the holidays approach, the Salvation Army bell ringers are out in front of stores dunning shoppers for donations. If you care about gay rights, you'll skip their bucket in favor of a charity that doesn't actively discriminate against the LGBT community. The Salvation Army has a history of active discrimination against gays and lesbians.”
Meanwhile, a Facebook page called “Boycott The Salvation Army” now has over 2,000 likes. The description of the page reads, “The Salvation Army is not only a charity, but an evangelical church promoting conservative Christianity and anti-gay politics.”
But Maj. George Hood, national community relations secretary for the Salvation Army, addressed the LGBT groups’ accusations of discrimination. He said the disagreement between the Salvation Army and gay activist groups comes down to theology.
“The Salvation Army and the gay community are never going to come to an agreement on the topic,” Hood told The Christian Post on Monday.
He went on to say that the Salvation Army will not change its beliefs about theological issues any more than gay groups would change their views.
Andy Thayer, co-founder of Chicago-based Gay Liberation Network, explained to The Christian Post in an email today why his group was participating in the boycott. "We urge people to boycott the Salvation Army and instead give to non-sectarian agencies because it uses its selective interpretation of the Bible to promote discrimination against LGBT people in employment benefits and leadership positions within the Army,” he wrote.
The Salvation Army’s stance on homosexuality is stated on its website. It says the group holds a positive view of human sexuality: “Sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage. However, in the Christian view, sexual intimacy is not essential to a healthy, full, and rich life. Apart from marriage, the scriptural standard is celibacy.”
While the Salvation Army as a church does have strong theological beliefs about homosexuality, its main focus as described in its mission statement is “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
Hood pointed out that LGBT groups have boycotted the Christian charity nearly annually in recent years, but they have not had a significant impact on giving in previous years. He said in the past two to three years, the organization actually broke records during their red kettle drive. Last year, Salvation Army raised $142 million, which “was a 5 percent increase over the previous year.”
In the end, Hood said, it’s unfortunate that there is a boycott because it’s not the Salvation Army that will be hurt, but “it’s the people we serve,” including many from the gay community.
“If people refuse to give, it’s the poor and people in need that will suffer.”