Just hours after the LGBT advocacy group “Truth Wins Out” published an interview in which a senior Salvation Army official in Australia said the belief that gays must die is part of the Salvation Army’s “Christian doctrine,” the organization on Saturday issued an apology to the LGBT community.
Major Andrew Craibe, Territorial Media Relations Director for the Southern Territory in Victoria, made the incendiary comments in an interview with LGBT journalists Serena Ryan and Pete Dillon for the Australian radio show “Salt and Pepper.”
Ryan noted that the Salvation Army handbook cites Romans 1:18-32, a passage claiming that “God’s decree” is that homosexuals deserve death, and asked Craibe if the Salvation Army took that passage literally. Craibe replied in the affirmative, and continued to do so throughout the interview.
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.Recording of interview at Truth Wins Out →
In response, Major Bruce Harmer, Salvation Army Communications and Public Relations Secretary for the Eastern Territory, issued a statement and said 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 apologizes 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 offense caused by this miscommunication.”
Harmer added 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 behavior’ is sinful. The Salvation Army and the LGBT community cannot possibly have a healthy relationship while these offensive beliefs remain in place,” said Becker.
“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.”
Since 1986, The Salvation Army has taken an active role in at least five major assaults on LGBT equality.