The Salvation Army: are they really the allies queer people need?

Via Gay Express:

The Salvation Army and Rainbow Wellington have reached a rapprochement 26 years after The Salvation Army had a hand in the (ultimately unsuccessful) to homosexual law reform.

Now, I am not a member of Rainbow Wellington (for obvious reasons).  I don’t know what their discussions were going into this.  I don’t know their reasoning for seeking or negotiating this exchange of statements – unfortunately there’s nothing on Scoop or their website to give further detail.  In addition, much of the Salvation Army’s statement on the matter seems directly plucked from a 2006 statement, republished in 2008 on their website.

But being the cynical picky person I am, I just feel compelled to point out that none of these phrases belong anywhere near a genuine, heartfelt apology:

judgemental and prejudiced words were spoken on both sides

many Salvationists were deeply opposed to, and embarrassed by, the intemperate manner in which views were expressed during the debate

We now understand that The Salvation Army’s official opposition to the Reform Bill was deeply hurtful to many, and are distressed that ill-feeling still troubles our relationship with some members of the glbti community.

We regret and apologise for any hurt that may remain

Just to recap, that’s one order of “everyone was equally bad” served with a side of tone argument, a cranberry-and-“get over it” jus, and a glass of chilled “sorry if you were offended.”

It concludes,

We may not agree in the future on all issues, but we can respect and care for one another despite this

Isn’t that sweet?  The Salvation Army still care!  Why, in 2010 Major Campbell Roberts was even quoted as saying,

“I would be keen to learn further from the gay community on ways in which you feel we can further build bridges of understanding and respect to gay people”.

I have an idea!  You could revisit this nice little section of your website, which clearly states that the Sallies believe marriage is a strict cis-man cis-woman arrangement and thus implies that same-sex couples (and hetero couples Living In Sin) can’t really enjoy the

profound feelings of love, mutual respect, inter-dependence and belonging

which hetero marital cock-in-vag sex provides.

You might ask, “does this really affect how the Salvation Army treats gay people in need of help?  Does this really mean they have to be our enemies in the struggle for marriage equality?”

Well, how about this:

The Salvation Army is firmly convinced that the support and encouragement of the institution of marriage is vitally important to the maintenance of secure family life, and that this, in turn, is crucial to stability in society as a whole.

The Sallies believe thatpreserving marriage for hetero cis folk is essential to our society.  You bet they’re our fucking enemies in the struggle for marriage equality.

That being said, the NZ Salvation Army site is strangely remiss in not clearly spelling out how they feel about queer people.  But handily, they link to sister sites, like the UK Salvation Army who manage to hold this awesome piece of cognitive dissonance together in their heads:

Human sexuality is part of God’s creation and as such it is good and to be celebrated … Sexual identity is widely accepted to be unchosen by the individual … The Salvation Army teaches that sexual acts should take place only in a monogamous heterosexual marriage

Sex is lovely!  And sexual feelings aren’t conscious decisions!  But don’t do it except in this very limited patriarchally-endorsed way!  I suppose it is just a variation on the classic “just because God gave you certain feelings and made you a certain way, it doesn’t mean he wanted you to act on those feelings, because he is a massive douchebag.”

Australian Salvation Army get right down to it:

It is The Salvation Army’s belief that, whilst recognising the possibility of such [homosexual] 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.

We firmly believe that obedience to God together with the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, make it possible for all to live a lifestyle pleasing to Him. This may include celibacy or self restraint for those who will not or cannot marry.

And by “cannot” marry they of course mean “because you want to marry someone with matching junk, which is badwrong”. It’s okay, though, they go on to explain that as long as you follow the rules – i.e. never act on your basic God-given emotional and sexual feelings – you can totally be almost as good a Christian as they are.

I’m interested to see if Rainbow Wellington comment any further on this.  I know I’m a tad unbending when it comes to dealing with douchefucks who use the words and teachings of Jesus – who didn’t have a hell of a lot to say about The Gays, strangely enough, and whose entire spin-off faith was kinda focused on creating a new covenant between God and the people to replace the old covenant (he mumbled something about retaining all the old laws, sure, but that’s what you do when you don’t want to get turned over to the Romans by your own people) – to justify their patriarchal bullshit.

It’s practically the original patriarchal bullshit, because in the world described by these “beliefs”, women are duty-bound to find a husband and pump out his babies.  There’s literally no other options, because they explicitly state that that’s what God intended and that’s the only way human beings can ever be whole.

Of course, they’d argue that men are just as duty-bound to marry women and fill them full of babies, but let’s be honest, one partner in this relationship gets to carry just the tiniest bit more of the risk and damage and life-long effects of reproduction, one partner in this relationship is held to slightly higher sanctions if she “strays”, and one partner in this relationship has traditionally been treated as the property of the other.

So maybe they aren’t that radical.  Maybe they won’t be that activist if Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill gets drawn from the ballot.  Maybe it makes sense to Rainbow Wellington to shake hands and draw a line under the 1986 issue so they can focus their energies on more important fights.

At the end of the day?  They still think that acknowledging any relationship beyond a monogamous hetero cis Christian marriage is a threat to the fabric of society.  We’ll have to fight them eventually.

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3 comments

  1. MJ

    Given that there were multiple instances of queer friends of mine being denied help by the Salvation Army after the February earthquake, I’ll be taking this with a whole pillar of salt (yes, I’m making a biblical reference in regards to the Salvation Army. Boom.)

    • QoT

      I’m sure I remember Jesus being very big on denying aid to those in need on the basis of your own personal bigotry.

  2. Mr Wainscotting

    It’s a rehash of their previous non-pology, and I’m not buying it for a second.

    I always like to look to their New York chapters, who threatened to shut down their soup kitchens and kick homeless people out on the street if an ordinance passed protecting homosexuals from workplace discrimination. Arrogant douchefaces who have a lot more work to do before they should be considered good.