For many years, I lived under the impression that although the Salvation Army had a religious base, it did not discriminate and reached out to help those in need regardless of the personal beliefs of those in need. I don't know where or when I was told this, but I believed it. And so, year after year, I've put money in those Christmas kettles as I lived with that assumption.
Just over a year ago, I learned that the Salvation Army was actually a church and that some of its core beliefs are downright repulsive. And so I stopped feeding the kettles. Take, for instance, their hard-line view on homosexuals. On a radio interview in Australia, Serena Ryan interviewed Major Andrew Craibe, a Salvation Army Media Relations Director, who confirmed that gays "deserved to die". This statement forms part of the "Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine".
Craibe made no attempt to apologize for this viewpoint, saying that believing gays should die was the Christian thing to do. The article references the interview which you can hear the juicy bits of by visiting http://youtu.be/hHdsuRxktzE.
In Canada, things are often different. Our Boy Scouts did not have the religious homophobic baggage of the Boy Scouts of America and made a point of highlighting these differences. I would be curious to find out if the Canadian arm of the Salvation Army distances itself from the global parent in the way that the Scouts has in Canada, and whether the Canadian version of the Handbook of Doctrine includes the idea that gays should be put to death.
Someone pointed me to the following "damage control" reply by Salvation Army Major George Hood in response to the interview. I read it and while Major Hood says, "I don't know why the officer said what he said . . . ", he did not, at any point, specifically point out the Salvation Army's position on gays, nor does he suggest an alternative interpretation to the words, "Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death" in Romans 1:18-32, that being the centrepiece of the whole "gays should die" thing. Another person pointed out that we're talking about "spiritual death" (still an abhorrent position) but Hood didn't say that either. http://blog.salvationarmyusa.org/2012/06/28/a-chance-to-dialogue/