With the holiday shopping season in full swing, the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign is once again coming under intense scrutiny from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates.
America Blog is asking LGBT shoppers and allies to give downloadable "vouchers" to Salvation Army bell ringers in lieu of cash in an effort to let the organization know that "bigotry is not a Christmas value," according to blogger John Aravosis.
"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," Aravosis writes. "And not just that –- they’ve actively lobbied against pro-gay policies in a number of countries as well."
Of course, it isn't the first time the Salvation Army's conservative view of homosexuality has been brought to attention. "The Salvation Army has a history of active discrimination against gays and lesbians. While you might think you're helping the hungry and homeless by dropping a few dollars in the bright red buckets, not everyone can share in the donations," Bil Browning noted on The Bilerico Project last year. "The organization also has a record of actively lobbying governments worldwide for anti-gay policies -- including an attempt to make consensual gay sex illegal."
Indeed, as Browning pointed out, the group's position statements reveal a somewhat rigid outlook on LGBT lifestyles. "Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex," one statement reads. "The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage."
Earlier this year, an Australian Salvation Army official sparked international controversy after he implied in an interview that LGBT people should be put to death, noting that it was "a part of our belief system."
"You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief," Major Anthony Craibe said in the interview. You can listen to audio, courtesy of Truth Wins Out's John Becker, below:
Salvation Army spokesman Major Bruce Harmer then quickly released a statement distancing the organization from Craibe's "extremely regrettable" remarks, noting that members do "not believe, and would never endorse, a view that homosexual activity should result in any form of physical punishment."
Harmer went on to note: "The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of all human life and believes it would be inconsistent with Christian teaching to call for anyone to be put to death. We consider every person to be of infinite value, and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and preserved."