Salvation Army bans gay people from serving as officers unless celibate

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An internal document circulated by the Salvation Army bans gay people from serving as officers, unless they remain celibate.

An Australian Salvation Army chief suggested in 2012 that sexually active gay people should be put to death – while In March this year,a homeless trans woman was allegedly left on the streets in Dallas, after the Salvation Army refused her housing

The organisation recently took issue with “untrue” accusations that it has problems with homophobia and transphobia – referring to claims as a “myth”.

However, a “Nondiscrimination Communications” memo – sent out earlier this year to brief members nationally – was obtained by Queerty, and shows that discrimination is still very much in effect.

The letter – which is signed by Commissioner Paul Seiler – warns that all members are liable for “termination” if they attend same-sex wedding ceremonies in uniform, while members are also banned from officiating same-sex weddings, even out of uniform.

The organisation maintains a ban on gay leaders, saying: “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.”

It adds: “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.”

Spokesperson Jennifer Byrd did not apologise for the overtly discriminatory practises in a statement, claiming that the organisation had been “misunderstood”.

She said: “The Salvation Army is a religious organization founded in 1865 by a Methodist minister. As such all 3,500 officers that you see wearing a uniform are ordained ministers in The Salvation Army church.

“The letter you reference addresses the theology of the organization and is used to help guide Salvation Army officers as they navigate the LGBT issue nationwide.

“While The Salvation Army has a theology of marriage, it also has a theology of service. Please know that the requirement of celibacy for single officers – those who are heterosexual and those who are members of the LGBT community – has always been a policy in The Salvation Army.

“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.”