This year is no exception, as such news sources as USA Today and MSNBC have picked up on the efforts of Bil Browning, the leading voice in the Grinch-like campaign against Salvation Army. On his blog site, a clearinghouse of sorts for homosexual news, commentary, and camp, Browning challenges his readers to skip donating to the worthy charity in favor of one “that doesn’t actively discriminate against the LGBT community.”
Browning charges that the Christian group — which has been helping the homeless and helpless around the world since General William Booth began ministering to the down-and outers in London’s east end back in 1865 — “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. Many LGBT people are rejected by the evangelical church charity because they’re ‘sexually impure.’”
Browning’s biggest beef is the denomination’s biblically inspired stand on homosexuality, which declares: “Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. 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.”
Of course, as an organization committed to Christian compassion, the Salvation Army makes its services available to “all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation” — meaning that it employs no “gay” litmus test before helping the hurting. But in his diatribe Browning insists that the group callously denies “LGBT people services unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships, or, in some cases, attend services ‘open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.’ In other words, if you’re gay or lesbian, you don’t qualify.”
Browning claims to have experienced the Salvation Army’s “discrimination” firsthand, recalling: “When a former boyfriend and I were homeless, the Salvation Army insisted we break up before they’d offer assistance. We slept on the street instead and declined to break up as they demanded.”
Finally, Browning implies that the Salvation Army uses some of its red kettle moneys to lobby “governments worldwide for anti-gay policies— including an attempt to make consensual gay sex illegal.”
In response to the senseless campaign, Major George Hood, the Salvation Army’s National Community Relations director, said Browning’s charges were baseless, noting that the group reaches out with the love of Christ to all needy people — including those struggling with homosexuality. “The position of the Salvation Army is very clear that we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and we meet human needs without discrimination,” Hood told LifeSite News. “We know that there are people who come to us from the gay community and they are served the same as anyone else because sexual orientation is not a question we would ever ask.”
Nonetheless, he said, his group had no intention of diluting its biblical beliefs just to appease homosexual protesters. “The Salvation Army and the gay community are never going to come to an agreement on the topic,” Hood told the Christian Post.
As to the charge that the Salvation Army dips into its red kettles to fund international lobbying efforts, Hood said that would be impossible, since all funds stay in the local communities where they are collected. “No money from the red kettles comes to the national headquarters,” he told LifeSite News. “It stays in the community were the money is being raised and it’s being used to fund the social service work of the Salvation Army in that community, first of all for the Christmas season, making sure that children have toys and warm clothing, that the family has food on the table, that the heating bill is paid, that there’s housing available. That’s what the Christmas campaign is all about and it’s been that way for 120 years.”
Despite the inaccuracies that make up the bulk of Browning’s grudge campaign, it has gotten some minor traction in the homosexual community. According to USA Today, a Facebook page titled Boycott the Salvation Army had generated more than 3,100 “Likes” by December 1. And a spokesman for the Chicago-based Gay Liberation Network told the Christian Post that his group was asking 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.”
While homosexuals have made boycotting the Salvation Army a holiday tradition all their own, Major Hood told the Christian Post that it has had little impact on giving by the millions of people of good will who drop their dimes and dollars into the tens of thousands of red kettles around the nation. In fact, over the past two or three years, the group has enjoyed record giving, raising $142 million last year alone, a five percent increase over the previous year.
Hood added that the misdirected campaign by a small group of homosexuals was unfortunate, especially for those in need. “If people refuse to give,” he said, “it’s the poor and people in need that will suffer.”
Photo: AP Images