An Australian Salvation Army officer did imply during a June 2012 radio interview that gays should be put to death. However, the response reportedly does not reflect the views of the Salvation Army as a whole. The organization quickly released a statement condemning the remarks and noting that "Salvation Army members do not believe, and would never endorse, a view that homosexual activity should result in any form of physical punishment". The image in the message was taken from another source and digitally altered to fit. Nevertheless, a senior member of the organization did utter the remarks, which suggests that at least some members have significantly misinterpreted the organization's doctrine. And, over a number of years, the LGBT community has repeatedly condemned the organization for its perceived lack of support and acceptance.
A message currently circulating rapidly on social media claims via a headline that 'Salvation Army says that Gays Should be Put To Death'. The message features a picture depicting two Salvation Army collectors standing by a sign that reads "Gays Not Allowed".
The message points to an article by David Volz of TGV News that describes a radio interview with a Salvation Army officer in which the officer implied that gays should be put to death as per policies outlined in the Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine.
The interview described in the article did take place. In a 2012 interview with Australian journalists Serena Ryan and Pete Dillon, Major Andrew Craibe from an Australian Salvation Army branch indeed implied that gays should be put to death as a part of the organization's belief system.
However, the Salvation Army was quick to condemn Major Craibe's "extremely regrettable" remarks. The organization quickly released a statement distancing itself from Craibe's remarks and noting that the Salvation Army does not believe that gays should be put to death.
In the statement, Major Bruce Harmer, Communications and Public Relations Secretary for the Australia Eastern Territory, notes:
Salvation Army members do not believe, and would never endorse, a view that homosexual activity should result in any form of physical punishment. The Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine does not state that practising homosexuals should be put to death and, in fact, urges all Salvationists to act with acceptance, love and respect to all people.
The Salvation Army teaches that every person is of infinite value, and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and preserved.
Craibe made the remarks after the interviewer questioned him about a text from Romans included in the Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine that suggests that homosexuals deserved death.
However, in his statement, Harmer claims the real meaning of the text was misunderstood. He notes:
This is a misunderstanding of the text referred to. The Scripture in question, viewed in its broader context, is not referring to physical death, nor is it specifically targeted at homosexual behaviour. The author is arguing that no human being is without sin, all sin leads to spiritual death (separation from God), and all people therefore need a Saviour.
The image used in the article was taken from a 2009 article about methods of donating to the Salvation Army. The sign in the original picture reads "Doing The Most Good", not "Gays Not Allowed".
Thus, it seems clear that the Salvation Army as an organization does not officially believe that gays should be put to death. The organization claims to promote a policy of acceptance of all people. Nevertheless, the fact remains that a senior Salvation Army member apparently believed that the organization's doctrine supported the concept that gays should be put to death for their "sins". It seems quite unlikely that he is the only member that holds such a view.
And, despite the "acceptance and love" claims in Harmer's statement, the Salvation Army has repeatedly raised the ire of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community due to the organization's perceived lack of support and acceptance over a number of years.