What's more annoying than the constant ringing of bells by Salvation Army donation-bucket volunteers during the holiday season? The organization's longstanding, outspoken homophobia, of course!
Last year the Salvation Army did a media blitz claiming that it no longer believes same-sex lovin' is a sin.
Turns out they were lying. An internal document was recently leaked, and it reveals the dishonest disconnect between what the Salvation Army was telling the public -- that they are more LGBT-friendly than their checkered past would indicate -- and the fact that they are actually still just as homophobic as ever.
The document, which was sent around to internal stakeholders and explicitly reads, "This is not for public use ... including social media of any sort," outlines external messaging that sounds inclusive:
The Salvation Army does not believe that homosexual orientation is a sin. ... We simply do not discriminate against the people we serve or hire. Our doors are open to all. ... We serve and hire all people without discrimination."
But then the letter goes on to say some very contradictory things that are right in line with its history of exclusionary and anti-LGBT policies:
Leadership roles in denominational activities such as teaching or holding local officer roles require certain adherence to consistently held spiritual beliefs. This would apply to any conduct inconsistent with Salvation Army beliefs and would include same-sex sexual relationships. ... For anyone in a Salvation Army ministry position, the theological belief regarding sexuality is that God has ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman and sexual activity is restricted to one's spouse. Non-married individuals would therefore be celibate in the expression of their sexuality. This is the long-standing expectation of all individuals in ministry roles in The Salvation Army, including lay people.
There are lots more gems, including instructions that Salvation Army officers not appear in uniform when attending same-sex weddings, and that consequences for such actions "may include termination."
A Salvation Army spokesperson told Queerty in response to the leaked memo:
The Salvation Army serves 30 million people a year without discrimination, as you will see by the information included in the communications packet you have. We realize our message of service to the LGBT community and our non-discriminatory employment practices have been overlooked, misconstrued or misunderstood in recent years, and our focus the past 12-18 months has to be address these failings. We have traveled the country extensively meeting with Salvation Army officers and employees to help communicate the mission of The Salvation Army as it relates to the LGBT community and encourage them to reach out to LGBT organizations on a local level as we have on a national level.
Not only is the official response from the Salvation Army tone-deaf, but it doesn't even begin to address the disconnect between their internal and external policies. In the era of leaked information, the Salvation Army better plug its holes and get its story straight -- or should we say "gay"?