Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Sally Anne

Newscasters like using the term Sally Anne to describe the Christian organization called the Salvation Army, even though when they do so it is inadvertently demeaning. Salvation refers to new life in Christ, and Sally is hardly a helpful substitution. When Methodist William Booth founded the Salvation Army in 19th century Britain the noble goal was to give people who were "down and out" a way up. Yes, these folk were encouraged to accept salvation through Christ, but they were also given food and shelter and dignity. The dignity came in the form of a uniform, as they were inducted into Christ's "army." With the uniform they belonged, they were of worth.

These days the Army is in the news for two reasons. One is the terrible theft in Toronto of a couple of million dollars worth of toys, goods, and cash, meant for those who needed it most. Thanks to a Whistle Blower the organization discovered that this theft had gone on for two years and the executive director of that aspect of the work has been charged.

The Salvation Army is also under scrutiny because of a campaign to challenge its conservative stance when it comes to gays and lesbians.

Reader Stacey sent me a link to a Huffington Post article describing the campaign, which asks people to support other charities this Christmas because of its outlook on the LGBT community. This is my response:

I happened to see this yesterday evening. This is interesting and problematic. The Army’s position reflects that of so many evangelical organizations. In fact, within our ministerial in Bowmanville with participation of a dozen congregations, St. Paul’s is probably the only one with stated support of the LGBT community in terms of leadership and marriage policy. Nearly all would be vocally opposed to viewing homosexuality as anything but a sinful aberration. It is one of those subjects we just don’t broach together.

 Tough, but true.
For all these other congregations and denominations this is a matter of Christian principle which they feel is based on scripture. While I may disagree, I don't refuse to work with them. And I believe that the Salvation Army is still one of the most trustworthy organizations around in terms of support for the poor and marginalized. At St. Paul's we take our donated food to the S.A.'s local foodbank and we support them through our White Gift service.
What do you think? Should we distance ourselves from other churches because we differ in outlook? What about our relationship with the Salvation Army?


roger said...

I don't agree with the Salvation Army on their LGBT stance, but I am still a big supporter of them.

I really have to control my utter disgust at that vile creature who stole the toys and money. People give to the S.A. trusting it will go to people in need. Honestly, how can he have a conscience.

He has dug a hole for the S.A., and at a time when they are having their toy drives and seeking donations. I will continue to donate to them, and just cross my fingers that my money goes to the right people.

Anonymous said...

This is always a dilema for me David. I feel uncomfortable supporting an organization that sanctions discrimation. It angers me to witness such ugliness indulged in - in the name of Jesus no less! It may not be what you want to hear but it is 'tough facts' such as this that sometimes make me feel embarrassed about identifying myself as a Christian.

Laurie said...

I think we should stand by our values. By supporting charities that differ in their outlook we are silently agreeing with them. If people stopped giving to them they would then have to re-look at their beliefs and hopefully change them for the better.

Kathy Brankley said...


Was the Executive Diector a member of the Salvation Army denomination or was he hired from the outside?

David Mundy said...

I think we all have times when we are embarrassed, angered, even ashamed of what people do in Christ's name. Or in the name of Allah or any other god. There are times when I am deeply disillusioned by human nature period. But I can't give up on humanity, nor allow the darkness to eclipse the light of so much that good that is done in Christ's name, daily.

I agree that we should stand by our values. But I share many values with the Salvation Army and other expressions of Christianity with which I differ on other values. And I am aware that I and many of us held similar opinions at another time in life, but came to a different understanding of scripture.

I also don't want to be intolerant of those I consider intolerant! If I reject those who reject others, where or what am I?

David Mundy said...

I think he was someone hired for his managerial skills, not an officer of the Salvation Army Kathy.

willowjakmom said...

This really upset me when I first heard about it. I posted it on facebook and I had one friend who is a gay, married woman say "My wife and I both have worked for the Salvation Army along with several other openly gay staff members. . ." and another who commented "Salvation army on LGBT issues:
Practising homosexuals are "ineligible for full membership" in The Salvation Army.[22] However, The Salvation Army offers its services to all who are in need, regardless of sexual orientation, and opposes the abuse of people based on sexual orientation.[23] The organisation also believes Christians who are attracted to the same sex should "embrace celibacy as a way of life."[24]

It should also be noted that they do not believe in drinking alcohol but are happy to take this heathens money as she exits the LCBO".

I concluded after a lot of thought, that my boycott of donating to the Salvation Army would only hurt the people who they so clearly help. Following my decision, I saw a statement that was issued from a US office of the Salvation Army:

"Statement in Response to Australian Radio Interview

Alexandria, Virginia (June 25, 2012) - The Salvation Army in the United States fully and emphatically rejects the statements made by the media director of The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory regarding the LGBT community. The Salvation Army opposes any discrimination, marginalization or persecution of any person. There is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for any reason including his or her sexual orientation. We stand firmly upon our mission to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

The Salvation Army in Australia has also rejected the opinions stated and provided additional information which you can view here. ($file/Salvation%20Army%20Australia%20response%20regarding%20radio%20interview%20concerning%20homosexuality%20June%202012.pdf)

We deeply apologize for the hurt that these statements have caused."

Ultimately, I echo your feelings, David. Who am I if I reject those who are intolerant?

David Mundy said...

Thanks for this additional info Stacey.