- SXSW 2014
Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user docentjoyce.
An Australian Salvation Army leader said all gays should be put to death while he was being interviewed on a gay radio talk show.
The second-biggest charity in the nation, The Salvation Army, has come under harsh criticism and controversy recently for an interview in which one of the organization’s media relations directors called for the death of all homosexuals.
Major Andrew Craibe, a media relations director for one of the organization’s Australian branches, was interviewed by two gay journalists, Serena Ryan and Pete Dillon, when Craibe said The Salvation Army’s belief is that all gays should be put to death.
When Ryan asked: “So we should die?” Craibe stood by his statement that even though there is an alignment to the scriptures, it was still the belief of the organization.
The U.S. branch of the charity organization was quick to release a statement separating themselves from the comments made by Craibe:
“The Salvation Army in the United States fully and emphatically rejects the statements made by the media director of The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory regarding the LGBT community. The Salvation Army opposes any discrimination, marginalization or persecution of any person. We deeply apologize for the hurt that these statements have caused.”
To clarify the comments made during the interview, The Salvation Army said some of the responses about scripture were misunderstood. The used of the word “death” meant spiritual death and not actual physical death.
“There is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for any reason including his or her sexual orientation,” Christopher Priest, U.S. Southern Territorial Director of Communications, said.
Priest said even though the US branch of the organization is split into four territories, the separate corporations still reflect a common ministry and message within the nation.
“I am a 27 year employee, and can honestly say that we do not discriminate in the provision of services or employment opportunities,” he said.
The recent controversy is just another in a list of past incidents the right-wing, conservative charity’s anti-gay stance has created.
In December 2011, reports surfaced of a story where the organization ignored a homeless homosexual couple and would not offer their help unless the couple broke up and cleansed themselves of the sinful lifestyle.
“For a charity organization, they do an awful lot of poking around in politics,” Matthew Gracia, secretary of UT’s Texas StandOut and Queer People of Color & Allies, said. “I feel that a charity organization needs to focus more on actually doing what a charity is designed to do and that is to help donate to lesser privileged people rather than further ostracize them.”
The decision for a media relations director with 32 years of Salvation Army experience to go onto a gay Australian radio show to discuss the death of homosexuals is being viewed as a “lose-lose situation” by many news outlets.
“Organizations like The Salvation Army need to put the needs and concerns of the people they seek to help rather than upholding their own beliefs above everyone else’s,” Gracia said.
In its statement, The Salvation Army did not mention Craibe’s name. No reports of any reprimand for Craibe have surfaced.
Hear the full interview here: