Salvation Army offers a grovelling apology to gays over major’s ‘death to gays’ statement

A “MISCOMMUNICATION” by Major Andrew Craibe, Territorial Media Relations Director for the Southern Territory in Victoria, has led to a furore in Australia and beyond.

Major Craibe

Craibe, in an interview with LGBT journalists Serena Ryan and Pete Dillon for the Australian radio show Salt and Pepper, was asked whether the SA accepted as literal truth a passage in Romans 1:18-32 which says that “God’s decree” is that homosexuals deserve death.

Ryan noted that the Salvation Army handbook contains the hateful biblical passage and asked what Craibe’s attitude was towards it.

Craibe replied:

Well, that’s a part of our belief system.

Ryan (cutting in):

So we should die.


You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief.

Ryan: Wow. So we should die.

Just hours after the LGBT advocacy group Truth Wins Out published the  interview the SA issued an apology to the LGBT community.

Major Bruce Harmer, Salvation Army Communications and Public Relations Secretary for the Eastern Territory, issued a statement saying that Craibe’s responses to Ryan and Dillon were a “miscommunication” that resulted in a misrepresentation of the group’s official teaching.

The statement read, in part:

The Salvation Army sincerely apologises to all members of the GLBT community and to all our clients, employees, volunteers and those who are part of our faith communities for the offense caused by this miscommunication.

Harmer added that the Salvation Army is committed to building:

A more healthy relationship with the GLBT community.

Said John Becker, Director of Communications for Truth Wins Out:

The Salvation Army was wise to distance itself from Major Craibe’s disturbing remarks and apologize promptly for them. However, it’s clear from Major Harmer’s statement that the group still believes ‘homosexual behavior’ is sinful. The Salvation Army and the LGBT community cannot possibly have a healthy relationship while these offensive beliefs remain in place.

Wayne Besen, TWO’s Executive Director, added:

In Major Harmer’s statement, the Salvation Army promises to treat each person with dignity, respect, and non-discrimination,. But this pledge means very little unless it is accompanied by a reversal of the Salvation Army’s discriminatory, anti-gay teachings.

Since 1986, The Salvation Army has taken an active role in at least five major assaults on LGBT equality.

Hat tip: Daz & BarrieJohn


23 responses to “Salvation Army offers a grovelling apology to gays over major’s ‘death to gays’ statement”

  1. barriejohn says:

    Permit me, if you will, to sally forth with a little limerick:

    An officer in the SA*
    Says that God really does hate the gay:
    They ought to be dead –
    No more to be said;
    So let’s hope they pray it away!

    (*Any similarity with the Sturmabteilung is purely coincidental)

  2. barriejohn says:

    The Salvation Army may do much “good work” throughout the world, but many members – if not most – remain unreconstructed fundamentalists.

  3. barriejohn says:

    I’ve just seen this:

    Major Andrew Craibe: Rejoice: war, drab man!

  4. Daz says:

    When you say your charity’s for all the needy
    Do you really mean it, or are you lying?
    Do you think the gays should be praying, really
    Or would you rather they were dying?

    Hey, Sally Anne, what’s your game now, can anybody play?
    Hey, Sally Anne, what’s your game now, is it ‘pray away the gay’?

    (Just in case it wasn’t obvious: )

  5. barriejohn says:

    Daz: “He ain’t heavy, he’s my… oh, shit, he’s gay. I’ve dropped him!”

  6. Daz says:

    From that second link:

    We believe that there is only on God, who is infinitely perfect


    We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has by His suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.

    Whosoever will what? Obviously not “whoever will check our web pages so we don’t look illiterate.”


    We believe that repentance towardds God

    We all make the odd typo, but you’d think that a permanent page on their official website would have been given a little more scrutiny.


  7. Lazy Susan says:

    Whosoever will – that’s just old-fashioned talk for “whoever wants to.” Using the old style helps to invoke a spirit of mystery and reverence, dontcha know.

    Actually, Whosoever Will sounds like someone’s blog handle. Along with Greasy Joan, Willy Nilly and (of course!) Lazy Susan.

  8. barriejohn says:

    And “Slack Alice”, “Apricot Lil”, and “Pop-it-in-Pete the postman”, Susan!

  9. tony e says:

    @barriejohn, ref the ‘good work’ that they carry out. If memory serves me right, my late grandfather had a pathological hatred of the SA. He told me that during the 30’s, when things were desperate, and he had to go to the soup kitchens that they literally had to sing for their supper (of course they called it joining them in prayer).

  10. barriejohn says:

    @tony e: My father joined the Royal Navy before the last war, and said exactly the same about “Aggie Weston’s”, which he despised. However, he always held the SA in the highest esteem! I think a lot depends upon one’s personal experiences.

  11. Trevor Blake says:

    I’ve worked in a social service agency run by the Salvation Army. I had to sign a contract stating that I would never drink alcohol or have illicit sex (which included all homosexual acts). Not that I would refrain from doing these things with those we served, but that I would refrain from doing them at all.

    I decided that the moral good of being able to help others was greater than the moral evil of lying to the Salvation Army, and I worked there for some time. I gave food to those who were hungry, shelter to those who had no home, clothes to those who were cold, a place to shower for those who were dirty, and a safe place to rest to those who had no safe place.

    I apologize to the Salvation Army for my deception. Better that this atheistic, socially drinking, illicit sex having liar should have never darkened your door. What a grave injustice I’ve done to all those I helped.

    I’m the proof that there is a third way between Salvation Army’s no gay policy and the request of outsiders that the Salvation Army change its teachings. Unlike the theistic liars of the clergy, who come out as rapists, there are atheist liars in religious groups who come out as altruists. “Sure thing boss, I’ve never tasted alcohol. Here, let me get you a jacket since your other jacket was stolen.”

  12. JohnMWhite says:

    I’m not sure what the Salvation Army are apologising for, or if it even counts as an apology. Their Major simply affirmed what their own literature and policy already says, and they are claiming that by telling the truth he somehow misrepresented them. They seem to be simply sorry they got caught, and are pretending their position is not what it blatantly is and what the Major simply made clear. I thought the SA were supposed to be honest at all times.

    A lot of Christians find themselves in this awkward space of knowing their bigotry is unacceptable (and maybe even being generally nice and not wanting to hate people), and knowing that it is expected of them and somehow crucial to their faith. The mental gymnastics must be exhausting, but I find it increasingly difficult to maintain sympathy for them when it is clear that they find the homosexual issue to be of the utmost importance. Why that? Why is it a specific policy of a group dedicated to doing good work that gays are bad? Where’s their policy against sexual abuse of children, or one privileged individual hoarding hundreds of times the wealth that a starving family will see in a lifetime, or tormenting somebody for being born a certain way until they put a noose around their neck? For some reason the faithful by and large make combating homosexuality a priority and then they wonder why they’re thought of as prejudiced and malicious.

  13. Stonyground says:

    As I understand it, the SA official position on gay people is strong disapproval (which I see as unacceptable), balanced slightly by a policy of not being judgemental about the people that they help. This guy came right out and said that gays should be killed because it says so in the Bible.

    It is difficult to put into words what I think of this guy. On the one hand, just saying it is not the same as getting up a lynch mob and actually committing murder. On the other hand, saying it and not being prepared to do it and face the consequences suggests to me that he is, how shall I put it?, completely full of shit. He knows that the OT is a sack of barbaric drivel, otherwise why isn’t he demanding that all the other offences for which YHWH demands the death penalty be dealt with? Well, for one thing he would probably have to stone himself. That uniform is pretty much certain to contain mixed fabrics and he appears to have cut the corners of his beard.

  14. John the Drunkard says:


    ‘Major’ Craibe and his interviewers were talking about Romans; part of the ‘gentle,’ ‘tolerant,’ NEW Testament (also contains lanolin).

    How can anyone be shocked when Bible advocates cannot wriggle their way out of accepting biblical statements? This is where ‘moderate’ Xtians–and Muslims etc. achieve their evil: by ignoring the nasty bits without having the moral or intellectual integrity to actively refute them.

  15. barriejohn says:

    Stonyground: Here is the offending passage, from the NIV.

    Supposedly written by “St Paul” in New Testament times!

  16. 5ec4um says:

    The religious mind is pretty unfathomable, but the Salvation Army is a notch or two further up that scale. If ever there was a relic of the Victorian era, it’s the Sally Army. There’s a local group in my area (UK) that comes out a few times each year, and it seems to consist of a few Little Hitlers and their under-educated / mentally challenged underlings. The whole religious “Army” idea seems so out of place in these times.

  17. barriejohn says:

    They’re weird, @5ec4um, and they do seem to attract a lot of social misfits and mentally challenged types, especially those who like to dress up in uniform. It’s like Boys’ Brigade for adults. There’s one “officer” who fits your description supervising their charity shop in Boscombe, and I always laugh at him strutting about in military fashion in his hob-nailed boots, lording it over the other staff. I knew quite a number of their members in Swindon, and I very nearly spat my tea all over one woman when I was visiting her and she suddenly announced: “Of course, I’m Recruiting Sergeant”. I was lost for words!

  18. Stonyground says:

    How can anyone read that stuff and not realise that Paul was an utterly repellent fanatic? Christians seem to quite like the idea that he was a bad guy to begin with but then converted and became one of the good guys. Looking at him a little more objectively, it would seem that he remained the same kind of persecuting zealot and just changed sides.

  19. Matt Westwood says:

    Mind, they do make quite a nice noise with their horns at xmas time when everyone else in the town centre is playing music to make one vomit.

  20. Robster says:

    The mistake they (the religiously deluded) make is that the baby jesus suffered death to “save” the sinners, i.e all of us apparently. Thing is, jesus was alleged to have come back to life before being swept away to fictionland. That’s not a sacrifice, that’s a con job. As the (supposed) son of god, jebus must have known the outcome of his pretence. As they say “All show but no go”.

  21. jay says:

    They seem to be a mixed bag.

    Some years ago when there was a major flood in a nearby town, my atheist ex wife volunteered to help. She first went to the Red Cross, but left after realizing they were asking people for documentation (there were a lot of ‘illegal’ aliens living there).

    She went over and worked with the SA who didn’t ask any questions (including ‘are you gay?’). She wound up working on that project for a number of weeks. They knew she was an atheist, it was never an issue.