The Salvation Army’s bell-ringing volunteers are in full force in Southern California for their final week of holiday fundraising, despite being confronted with allegations of discrimination earlier this month.
The Gay Liberation Network (GLN) called a boycott on the iconic red kettles, claiming the Christian charity discriminates against gays and lesbians.
“We are urging a boycott of the Salvation Army because it uses its selective interpretation of the Bible to promote discrimination against LGBT people in employment benefits and leadership positions within the Army,” GLN co-founder Andy Thayer told CBS-LA.
Major Ian Robinson, a Southern California spokesman for the Salvation Army, said that's never been the case.
“I think it’s a misunderstanding," said Robinson. "I think they don’t quite realize [...] we don’t discriminate in our services, but if they were to apply – for example – to be ministers in the Salvation Army, it would be a different approach."
The Salvation Army has consistently taken a stance against open homosexuality, arguing that scripture "forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex." A statement on their website insists that "Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex" should remain celibate.
However, that same statement goes on to say that "there is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for reason of his or her sexual orientation" and makes a point of denouncing homophobic abuse.
Thayer of the GLN remains critical.
"If a racist organization was trying to collect money with the message that some of the money was going towards doing good, would you support them? I would hope not."
Robinson said that so far, the boycott hasn’t put a dent in their fundraising efforts. The charity hopes to meet its $142 million national fundraising goal by Christmas Eve.