The Salvation Army responded to the latest blogosphere attacks from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists by stating that they believe that all people are equal and that it provides services and employment opportunities to everyone who is qualified. The Christian-based organization released the statement as the result of opposition from the gay community that appears to resurface every year during the Red Kettle fundraising campaign at holiday season.
"We believe that all people are equal, regardless of sexual orientation or any other factors including race, gender and ethnicity," stated Major George Hood, National Community Relations Secretary for The Salvation Army. "We firmly oppose the vilification and mistreatment of gays and lesbians. Any such incident is in clear opposition to all established Salvation Army policy."
In a recent post by the liberal political media site America Blog, a blogger asks shoppers and supporters to drop off downloadable "vouchers" instead of cash to Salvation Army bell ringers in an effort to let the organization know that "bigotry is not a Christmas value." The vouchers call the organization discriminatory and promises that the giver will donate to other groups.
"The Salvation Army discriminates against gay people, and discriminating donors should find another charity this Christmas than evangelical bigots who advocate against our civil rights," John Aravosis writes. "And not just that – they've actively lobbied against pro-gay policies in a number of countries as well."
However, the Salvation Army stated that its mission is to "preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination."
"Any person who comes through our doors will receive assistance based on their need and our capacity to help," Hood states. "The only requirement to receive service is to demonstrate need and for residential services to abide by the rules and regulations set forth by The Salvation Army in order to maintain a safe and constructive environment. Any allegation of discrimination at a Salvation Army center is taken seriously and thoroughly investigated."
The organization also defended its hiring practices by saying it hires the best candidate for a position and offers employee benefits to all equally.
"The Salvation Army adheres to all relevant employment laws and provides for domestic partner benefits accordingly. We offer benefits to all Salvation Army employees and do so in much the same way that other companies and private organizations provide them," Hood continued. "We extend access to benefits for family members of our employees, and in many cases may include same sex partners."
Stephanie Miller, a liberal talk radio host and a lesbian, recently hosted Hood on her show in support of the Red Kettle campaign, but was quickly called out by gay activists for letting him "get away with the lies" of claiming the organization is not anti-gay.
Miller has since apologized to the gay community, saying she should have researched the Salvation Army and will be dropping her support.
Hood was not available late Wednesday for comment to address the Miller situation specifically. However, the organization did release a general statement that included:
"The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church, founded on Christian values and biblical standards, and nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a broad array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster survivors, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children."