The Salvation Army Australia is apologizing for an official’s comments suggesting that the charitable Christian organization believes homosexuals should be put to death.
Maj. Andrew Craibe, media relations director for Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory, found himself in the middle of a public-relations firestorm for comments he made on a gay-oriented Australian radio show last week.
Appearing on the “Salt and Pepper” radio program, Craibe was asked about the Salvation Army’s position on homosexuality and a section in its “Handbook of Doctrine” that cites a Biblical passage -- Romans 1:18-32 -- containing a condemnation of homosexuality. The passage mentions that in God’s eyes, “those who practice such things are deserving of death.”
One of the radio hosts, Serena Ryan, expressed concern over the passage and asked, “How do you respond to that as part of your doctrine?”
Craibe responded: “Well, that’s a part of our belief system. We have an alignment to the Scriptures that that’s our belief.”
Later, Ryan again pressed Craibe on the issue “Honestly, Andrew, tell me, as a human being, how can you qualify that?”
Craibe replied: “Well, I qualify by way of, that’s where my belief system is structured, you know? It’s what it comes down to, that salvation story, and that we can be redeemed from that. That’s my belief.”
On Saturday, two days after the interview, Salvation Army Australia issued a statement seeking to clarify its stance on gays and lesbians.
“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 behavior. 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 statement said.
“The Salvation Army acknowledges that the response in the interview has led to a serious misunderstanding of our teaching and that clarification should have been given during the interview.”
The statement added: “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 offence caused by this miscommunication.”
The Salvation Army bills itself as one of the world’s largest Christian social welfare organizations, with more than 1.65 million members working in at least 123 countries.
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