Mayor Pete Buttigieg faced criticism on social media Wednesday after photos of him volunteering for the Salvation Army during its “Red Kettle Ring-off” in South Bend in 2017 were published in an article by OUT magazine.
Wrote OUT: “Buttigieg was there for the Red Kettle Ring Off, during which local public officials collect donations for the Salvation Army — something he’s apparently been doing for years. He also held a mayoral event at a Salvation Army center in South Bend last year. … Even famously homophobic chicken peddlers Chick-fil-A recently severed its relationship with the Salvation Army, and when you’re gay and less sensitive about anti-queerness than Chick-fil-A, that’s pretty bleak. Maybe Pete Buttigieg should have supported an organization that was created to cater to the needs of queer people — there’s plenty of them!”
The Salvation Army’s homophobic history has been in the news recently after a report claiming Chick-fil-A would stop giving to anti-LGBTQ charities listed the organization among those to which the restaurant chain’s charity arm would stop donating. Chick-fil-A later hedged on those reports, saying “no organization will be excluded” from its charitable giving.
And recording artist Ellie Goulding recently threatened to quit a Salvation Army show she was scheduled to perform in after her followers pointed out the organization’s homophobic history. Goulding later decided to go on with the show after speaking with the organization.
Wrote the Salvation Army after the Goulding outcry: “We’d like to thank Ellie Goulding and her fans for shedding light on misconceptions and encouraging others to learn the truth about The Salvation Army’s mission to serve all, without discrimination. We applaud her for taking the time to learn about the services we provide to the LGBTQ community.”
But the history is there. And many do not take the Christian charity organization at their word.
NBC News reports: “In 2012, a Salvation Army spokesperson implied that gay people should be put to death and several homeless trans women from across the country have reported discriminatory treatment from the charity, saying the organization denied them shelter. In 2017, the New York City Commission on Human Rights filed complaints against the organization for allegedly refusing transgender clients at a New York substance abuse center.”
CNN reports: “In 2013, the organization maintained that the Bible forbade sexual intimacy between members of the same sex, saying that gay Christians should embrace celibacy and that scripture did not support same-sex marriages, according to Snopes. However, it said, its services were available to all people.”
NBC News adds: “The charity has attempted to leave its controversial past behind in recent years. On its U.K. website, it states that the Salvation Army “stands against homophobia, which victimises people and can reinforce feelings of alienation, loneliness and despair.” The website adds that though individual members of the organization may hold different views about LGBTQ people, the organization as a whole condemns discrimination on the basis of sexual and gender identity. The U.S. page of the Salvation Army’s website includes anecdotes from LGBTQ people that have been helped by the charity.”
And everyone has an opinion: