Just in time to ruin Gay Pride month, a media relations director for the Salvation Army had no problem reminding us and the queer journalists he was talking to that gays should be put to death. In talking to Australian queer journalists Serena Ryan and Pete Dillon on their Salt and Pepper radio show (audio below which was picked up by Truth Wins Out's John Becker), Major Andrew Craibe, a media relations director for one of the organization's Australian branches, had this exchange with the hosts:
Ryan: According to the Salvation Army, [gay people] 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: You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief.
The doctrine they're referring to is, as Queerty's Dan Avery reports, the Salvation Story: Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine, which borrows heavily from Romans 1:18-32 and states:
For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. . .
They know God’s decree, that those who practise such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practise them.
Until this weekend, Craibe's media presence had been mostly non-existent, his last remarks that we found were about children with disabilities, social and financial disadvantages, and their visit to a zoo--not something you would expect from a guy who sounds more or less like a hate monger.
Since Craibe's quotes popped up this weekend, the Salvation Army has officially distanced itself from Craibe's remarks with a carefully-worded response. In a statement, Salvation Army spokesman Major Bruce Harmer said Craibe's comments were "extremely regrettable" and Salvation Army members did "not believe, and would never endorse, a view that homosexual activity should result in any form of physical punishment." Harmer goes on to apologize, citing a misunderstanding of the "death" passage (he says the passage refers to "spiritual death" and not physical death):
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.
The apology doesn't mention Craibe by name, and yes, a charity (a charity!) to have to carefully point out that they don't condone physical harm towards gays and lesbians is pretty embarrassing. But it also shows you that Craibe's interview might not be the organization's biggest problem.