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.