The Salvation Army has described an exchange between journalists at Melbourne’s JOY94.9 and a senior member of their organisation as a ‘miscommunication and a misrepresentation of their official teachings. ’The statement has been released after their own public relations official agreed that putting gay people to death was part of the organisation’s belief system.
Major Andrew Craibe, the Salvations Army’s Territorial Media Relations Director for the Southern Territory appeared as a guest on the JOY94.9 program Salt and Pepper earlier this week. The Major’s appearance came after gay musician Darren Hayes called for a boycott of the organisation in a Twitter post. Hayes called for people to shun the organisation because of their stand point on homosexuality.
During the discussion the show’s hosts Serena Ryan and Pete Dillon challenged Major Craibe on the organisation’s standpoint on homosexuality by quoting sections of the organisation’s publication Salvation Story: Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine.
Ryan highlighted a section of the book that cited the biblical passage Romans 1:18-32 which condemns homosexuality,
‘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 practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.’
When asked by Ryan if the Salvation Army takes this passage literally, Major Craibe agreed stating, ‘well, that‘s part of our belief system.’
Ryan cut in, ‘So we should die?’
Major Craibe continued, ‘You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief.’
Speaking to OUTinPerth Ryan revealed that she was surprised by Major Craibe’s literal interpretation of the scriptures.
‘I was very surprised I have to say, he’s the PR guy, so I was surprised that he was so willing to agree with the questions and statements that we posed to him. He was unfalteringly polite about it, but within that frame he was very steadfast in his views, which I was quite stunned by.’
Since the show aired on Tuesday night Ryan has watched as the story has spread around the world being picked up by media outlets in the USA and United Kingdom and becoming a vibrant discussion on social media.
Yesterday the organisations Communications and Public Relations Secretary for the Eastern Territory, Major Bruce Harmer, issued a statement apologising 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.’
During the interview Ryan and Dillon also challenged the Major over his statements that sexuality is a choice when the Major compared homosexuality to alcoholism. Both hosts quickly shot down the inference that people were choosing to be gay. OUTinPerth asked Ryan why she believed religious groups were adamant that sexuality was a choice,
‘It is really interesting and I think you can take that back to they can justify their position based on the scriptures if they frame our sexuality as a choice, because then they can have a correlation between choice and sin and penance…
‘I think some of the suicide rates in the country for young people struggling with their sexuality is because when they’ve bought into the notion of having to reject that stuff, that they have to satisfy populous and the influences in their life that produces that behavior in them and that crisis.
Salt and Pepper airs at 11:00pm every Tuesday night on Melbourne’s JOY94.9. The program can be listened to online at www.joy.org.au. Listen to the full interview below.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 78.
Note: This article has been edited since its original publication, references to JOYFM were changed to JOY94.9 at the request of the station.