Did the Salvation Army Say Gays Need to Be Put to Death?

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As shared on Facebook, Dec. 9, 2013:

Salvation Army: Gays Need to Be Put to Death
Netlore Archive: Various viral postings allege that an official of the Salvation Army said that gays (or gay parents specifically) should be 'put to death.'. Via Facebook

Description: Viral text
Circulating since: June 2012
Status: Mixed (see details below)

Text example:
As shared online, Sep. 24, 2013:

Salvation Army says “Gays Need to Be Put to Death”

The Salvation Army has expressed their Christian beliefs in the past, stating that they do not accept the LGBTQ lifestyle, nor do they stand up for gay marriage. Salvation Army went on record recently, stating that LGBTQ parents should be put to death as the bible instructs. Major Andrew Craibe, a Salvation Army Media Relations Director, went on public radio hosted by journalist Serena Ryan, to discuss a recent call by LGBTQ parents for a boycott of the nonprofit for its anti-gay policies and beliefs.

Ryan questioned Craibe about Salvation Story: Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine, the manual used to train Salvation Army "soldiers" and members. Several chapters refer to the sin of homosexuality, including a section that cites Romans 1:18-32, which includes a admonition that homosexuals "deserved to die";

" Ryan: According to the Salvation Army gay parents deserve death. How do you respond to that, as part of your doctrine?"

"Craibe: Well, that’s a part of our belief system."

Ryan: So they should die."

"Craibe: You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief."

 

Analysis: The photo above showing a pair of  Army bellringers standing near a sign that says "Gays Not Allowed" is fake. In the original, undoctored image the sign reads "Doing the Most Good."

A conversation nearly identical to the one quoted above did actually take place during a radio interview in June 2012, however, hence the accusation that the Salvation Army holds the position that gay people should be put to death.

The interviewee was Salvation Army Australia spokesperson Major Andrew Craibe, who was grilled by Melbourne radio personalities Serena Ryan and Pete Dillon about the organization's stand on homosexuality as laid out in the Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine. Here's an accurate transcript of the exchange:

Ryan: It kind of concerns me that this says that although they know God’s righteous decree, that those who do such things deserve death. That’s in Romans 1:18-32 and that’s in your book of doctrine that’s part of the handbook that you give out to your soldiers. Now if I’m a fledgling homosexual and I feel that I may need some religious dogma or guidance and I go to the Salvation — and I haven’t declared my sexuality to myself so I’m not going to declare it to you — if I go and I read that and I connect with my sexuality, Andrew, then that says, according to the Salvation Army, that I deserve death. How do you respond to that, as part of your doctrine?

Craibe:  Well, that’s a part of our belief system.

Ryan: So we should die.

Craibe: We have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief.

The Handbook of Doctrine (p. 118) does indeed reference Romans 1:18-32, which does indeed enumerate such "vile affections" as "women [who] did change the natural use into that which is against nature" and "men, leaving the natural use of the woman, [who] burned in their lust one toward another" among the sins that are "worthy of death."

Salvation Army: Passage refers to 'spiritual death'

Is it fair to equate this with taking a position that gays should be "put to death"? According to the Salvation Army, no. In response to the outcry prompted by Craibe's statements, the organization issued a press release clarifying its theological position which stated:

This is a misunderstanding of the text referred to. The Scripture in question, viewed in its broader context, is not referring to physical death, nor is it specifically targeted at homosexual behaviour. The author is arguing that no human being is without sin, all sin leads to spiritual death (separation from God), and all people therefore need a Saviour.

And:

The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of all human life and believes it would be inconsistent with Christian teaching to call for anyone to be put to death. We consider every person to be of infinite value, and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and preserved.

And:

The Salvation Army sincerely apologises to all members of the GLBT community and to all our clients, employees, volunteers and those who are part of our faith communities for the offence caused by this miscommunication.



Sources and further reading:

The Salvation Army Starts War
tjchase.wordpress.com, 24 September 2013

Salvation Army Says Gays Need to Be Put to Death
TVG News, 6 June 2013

Salvation Army Australia Apologizes for Official's Anti-Gay Comments
NBC News, 26 June 2013

Debunking the Myth of LGBT Discrimination
Salvation Army USA


Last updated 12/13/13