I have seen several articles and read several blogs stating that the Salvation Army is "homophobic", and that they actively discriminate against gay and lesbian people:

The Salvation Army does not only discriminate against gay and lesbian people, it also works politically against LGBT rights all over the world. In Sweden, e g, the Army has protested against the law that makes same-sex marriages legal, and against the inclusion of homosexuals in a law criminalizing incitement to hatred.

Now, I understand that the Salvation Army is a very large organisation and operates across many countries. What they do in one country may differ to another. Keeping this in mind, my question is

Does the Salvation Army have a current, global policy that discriminates against gay and lesbian people?

If one cannot be found, I would accept a country-specific instance of the Salvation Army openly stating that they do not discriminate based on sexual preference being a valid disproof by counterexample of there being an enforced global policy in place.

References for notability:

  • This is not a real question.
    – Believer
    Nov 17 '11 at 5:02
  • 4
    @Believer, that's not a helpful comment. Care to explain?
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 16 '11 at 23:10

It appears that the organisation does not have a global view of homosexuality, but each region may produce their own position statement.

I looked in detail my local region (Australian Territories), below. I also skimmed some of the other regions, see below.

The Salvation Army Australian Territories Positional Statement on Human Sexuality has some relevant sections:

They are against same-sex marriage:

The Salvation Army affirms its absolute conviction that the marriage of one man to one woman is a sacred institution ordained by God and that a traditional good-faith commitment to an indissoluble union is one of the most rewarding of life’s decisions for any man or woman, providing the optimal conditions for family life.

But against discriminating against people for not being in a nuclear family:

The Salvation Army acknowledges that many people today find themselves in situations outside the ideal stated above. Persons in such circumstances should always be encouraged to feel totally accepted within The Salvation Army.

They believe in celibacy outside of marriage:

We believe in chastity before marriage and fidelity within the marriage relationship.

Note: The position that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that sex should be restricted to married couples has implications for same-sex couples.

They oppose homosexual practice:

It is The Salvation Army’s belief that whilst recognising the possibility of such orientation, (the origins of which are uncertain), the Bible expressly opposes homosexual practice, seeing such activity as rebellion against God’s plan for the created order.

They oppose vilification or discrimination against non-practising homosexuals:

A disposition towards homosexuality is not in itself blameworthy nor is the disposition seen as rectifiable at will. The Army is sensitive to the complex social, emotional and spiritual needs of all people including those with homosexual inclinations. We oppose vilification of, or discrimination against anyone on the grounds of sexual orientation. No person is excluded from membership, fellowship or service in the Army solely on the basis of sexual disposition.

However, practicing homosexuals are not permitted to become full members:

Homosexual practice, however, is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable. Such activity is chosen behaviour and is thus a matter of the will. It is therefore able to be directed or restrained in the same way heterosexual urges are controlled. Homosexual practice would render any person ineligible for full membership (soldiership) in the Army. However, practising homosexuals are welcome to worship with, and join in the fellowship of The Salvation Army.

Summary: The official position of the Australian Salvos is clearly not completely accepting of active gay and lesbian people. However, it is tempered with some attempts at tolerance, if not acceptance.

Other regions have similar positions, but must be read individually. A sample include:

There are significant differences in the wording. For example, the Indian version has no explicit statement that practising homosexuals are welcomed to worship with the Salvation Army. The Canada/Bermuda statement is even less explicit about their policies. I was unable to find the UK version. I did not attempt to find anything for non-English speaking countries, sorry.

This answer does not attempt to address any differences between the official policies of the organisation, the actual behaviour of their agents while representing the organisation or the behaviour of those same individuals when outside their role.

  • 2
    This is great - something like this released by the Salvation Army global headquarters would completely answer the question. Nonetheless, a good start.
    – John Lyon
    Sep 2 '11 at 5:35
  • 2
    In fact, their position reads like “some of my best friends are black”. This isn’t tolerance – tolerance means accepting other people as they are, not grudgingly suggesting that if the other person just made an effort, they might be more willing to concede. “non-practicing homosexuals” – ridiculous. It doesn’t get more condescending and intolerant than that (this obviously isn’t an attack on you, but I do find that you are painting their bigoted position in a too rosy tone). Apr 30 '12 at 9:48
  • 2
    @Benjol Seriously?! Sorry, calling out bigotry is not bigoted. Apr 30 '12 at 12:03
  • 3
    @KonradRudolph, maybe it's just an etymological thing, seems to me that bigot' is too often used to mean 'someone I disagree with'. It's not clear from your usage whether you believe it is semantically possible for the SA to disagree with homosexuality without being 'bigots'.
    – Benjol
    Apr 30 '12 at 12:07
  • 3
    I realise my confusion goes away when I remember that even charities lie. The Australian arm of the Salvos is trying to distance themselves from the position statement from THE AUSTRALIAN ARM of the Salvos.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 18 '12 at 3:45

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