I’m Salvo, and I’m Sorry

Over the weekend, the Salvation Army in Australia was involved in a bit of controversy. One of the Salvo’s PR guys did an interview on Joy FM in Melbourne. You can read about the controversy here, as well as listen to the interview in full.

When I read about this, I was angry. What was said does not line up with my understanding of the scripture, or Salvation Army beliefs. The Salvation Army fairly quickly put out an apology and clarification over the comments. However there are still a lot of bad and angry comments on The Salvation Army Australia’s Facebook page, such as this one:

No more donations from me. You homophobic, hypocritical, judgement bigots don’t deserve anyone’s time or money. Time to find a charity that practises, not preaches TRUE values.

And this one:

don’t come knocking on my door looking for donations. your a bunch of homophobic, ignorant bigots.

There are also some less hateful ones, such as this extract from a longer comment:

I have carefully listened to the interview and read the transcript. It is my view that JOY FM interviewers, Serena Ryan and, to a lesser extent, Pete Dillon, displayed an appalling lack of journalistic integrity and were bullying and manipulative in their questions to the Major. Serena Ryan, particularly, demonstrated in my view that she was pursuing a personal agenda and refused to allow the Major opportunities to clarify his position on matters relating to supposed “death calls” for homosexuals.

I submit that the document issued by the Salvation Army and found at [http://salvos.org.au/about-us/media-centre/documents/ResponseJOYFMqusFINAL.pdf] should be published and read aloud on that radio station in order to show fairness in debate. I submit further that Serena Ryan and Pete Dillon should be censured for their conduct.

I’ve been wanting to write on this for a while, but struggling with what to write. I could go into an exploration of the Romans text in question, performing a full exegesis to look at what Paul was actually saying. I could point out that the Greek word used can mean both a physical or a spiritual death, which clouds the issue. I could point out the ways in which the Salvation Army actually embraces LGBTI people, and does not discriminate in any way. But none of that would be helpful at this time.

Instead, as a member of the Salvation Army, I wanted to work out what I could do, in my own small way, that might be helpful. As such, I put the following out as a personal statement.

I’m Salvo, and I’m Sorry. I’m sorry that you were hurt by what was said. I’m sorry that you were offended by what was said. I cannot speak for the Salvation Army as a whole, I cannot change our policies or positional statements. But I can say Sorry, and I can say that personally, I will work as hard as ever to show love and compassion to everyone, no matter who they are, because I believe that God’s love is non-exclusive, and because God loved the whole world, therefore I should love the whole world too.

I know that this, and the apology statement linked above, do not make up for what was said. I know that the damage has been done, and it will take some time for us to regain the trust that we had. But I hope that through our actions, you will see that we truly do love all who come to us.

The views, comments, statements and opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the official position of The Salvation Army.

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Author: Ben Clapton

I'm an Officer in The Salvation Army, currently appointed with my wife as Corps Officers at the Rochester Corps in country Victoria (20 minutes out of Echuca). I play violin and guitar, amongst many others, and love golf and running.

3 thoughts on “I’m Salvo, and I’m Sorry”

  1. I appreciate your heart, Ben. At the same time, you are training to go out into the field and “follow orders”. At present, those “orders” (position statements, etc.) discriminate against lgbtt people; they hurt people, both lgbtt and those they love as well (family and friends); they exclude us from full membership, from full fellowship; young, vulnerable lgbtt people continue to take their own lives over how the church, their church views them and treats them; others know that they are not welcome…and that is very painful. Your Army issues those orders. Are you going to be able to follow them, keeping in mind that “following orders” is no excuse, even under the law…never mind in a milieu of supposed grace. It’s a tough spot to be in, a hard place, and one requiring actual courage.

  2. It’s a great reply Ben; and the only proper response, in light of just how appallingly the Army’s views were presented in this interview. I, too, was gutted when I heard the reports of this interview and even moreso when I heart the interview for myself.

    However, sooner or later the whole issue of homosexuality and Salvationism will need to be discussed – freely and openly, and flowing from the key policy-makers and leaders own mouths and pens.

    Then we will need exegesis, clear-thinking, prayer and grace (all the more) if we are ever to move together as “One Army, One Mission”.

    Thank you for your words, and I stand with you in apologizing to all who were harmed by this horrific representation of the views of God’s Army.

  3. Thank you for your sensitive and thoughtful comments and the personal ‘sorry’. To my understanding the Salvation Army is not a homophobic organisation, and many volunteers and staff have been deeply hurt by this sad situation. Loss of donations will only hurt the worst off in our nation, and that will include many of the LGBT who are helped by the Salvos every day. On a positive note I think it has helped us all think again about our personal values, and I for one am going to continue to show love and acceptance to those in the LGBT community regardless of the intolerant attitudes some of them display to others.

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