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Salvation Army official says ‘gays must die’; organization now says he ‘miscommunicated’

It took less than 16 hours for a post by Truth Wins Out’s John Becker to cause a hot mess for the Salvation Army:

[I]n an interview with LGBT journalists Serena Ryan and Pete Dillon, a senior Salvation Army official said that non-celibate LGBT people should be put to death. The official, Major Andrew Craibe, is the Salvation Army’s Territorial Media Relations Director for the Southern Territory in Victoria.

…RYAN:  . . . that says, according to the Salvation Army, that [they] deserve death. How do you respond to that, as part of your doctrine?

CRAIBE:  Well, that’s a part of our belief system.

RYAN (cutting in):  So we should die.

CRAIBE: You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief.

RYAN:  Wow. So we should die.

That’s nice. Well, as I said, the reaction to this hateful spew was rapid enough to have the Salvation Army go into damage control mode, and Truth Wins Out published a “clarification” and walk-back of Craibe’s statement, distancing itself from the boldly homophobic remarks, even as it retains its official anti-LGBT stance and policies.

In response, Major Bruce Harmer, Salvation Army Communications and Public Relations Secretary for the Eastern Territory, issued a statement acknowledging that Craibe’s responses to Ryan and Dillon were a “miscommunication” that resulted in a misrepresentation of the group’s official teaching. The statement read, in part:

“The Salvation Army sincerely apologises to all members of the GLBT community and to all our clients, employees, volunteers and those who are part of our faith communities for the offence caused by this miscommunication.”

Harmer further states that the Salvation Army is committed to building “a more healthy relationship with the GLBT community.”

“The Salvation Army was wise to distance itself from Major Craibe’s disturbing remarks and apologize promptly for them,” said John Becker, Director of Communications for Truth Wins Out. “However, it’s clear from Major Harmer’s statement that the group still believes ‘homosexual behaviour’ is sinful. The Salvation Army and the LGBT community cannot possibly have a healthy relationship while these offensive beliefs remain in place.”

“In Major Harmer’s statement, the Salvation Army promises to treat each person with dignity, respect, and non-discrimination,’” added Wayne Besen, TWO’s Executive Director. “But this pledge means very little unless it is accompanied by a reversal of the Salvation Army’s discriminatory, anti-gay teachings.”


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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding