Salvation Army Responds to Bill C-6 - Salvation Army Canada

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    Salvation Army Responds to Bill C-6

    Territorial commander issues statement regarding conversion therapy. December 4, 2020
    Filed Under:
    Territorial News

    Salvationists and Friends,

    I write to share with you a commitment the Canada and Bermuda Territory has made regarding “conversion” therapy, also known as “reparative” therapy.

    We recognize there are diverse views within the broader Christian church and within our own movement regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. At the same time, we feel compelled to comment internally and externally about a set of practices that have been widely discredited and are known to cause harm.

    While there are various definitions of conversion therapy in the medical, mental-health and social-work professions, as well as in law, at its most basic, conversion or reparative therapy is an attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender.  It is rooted in the notion that there is something inherently wrong about certain sexual orientations or gender identities, and that same-sex attraction or a transgender identity needs repair.

    Issuing this statement does not mean we are changing Salvation Army doctrine or teaching. The Salvation Army has long maintained that same-sex attraction is not morally blameworthy.

    The New Zealand Territory has produced a set of guidelines for Salvationists on this topic. We share their desire that The Salvation Army should not cause harm to people who identify as LGBTQ2+. This commitment is consistent with International Headquarters’ statement that we stand against homophobia, which victimizes people and can reinforce feelings of alienation, loneliness and despair. Conversion therapies have been widely demonstrated to cause such feelings, among other harms. 

    The federal government recently introduced  Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy) into the House of Commons to prohibit the practice of conversion therapy in Canada. This legislation aims to support LGBTQ2+ persons and stop a set of practices that have caused much harm in Canada and elsewhere.

    In the Canada and Bermuda Territory, we have a long history of serving our own church members and the broader community. We commit to live out our Christian faith and core values, in a way that gives hope, respects the dignity of every person who comes through our doors, and serves without discrimination.

    We, therefore, have confirmed support for the legislation in its intent to ban the use of conversion therapy and commit to the following practical responses:

    • To acknowledge that conversion therapies within and outside the Christian church have been both ineffective and harmful.
    • To acknowledge that members of our own church community identify as LGBTQ2+ persons.
    • To aim to be a church community where LGBTQ2+ persons find encouragement to develop their relationships with God.
    • To not act, directly or indirectly, to encourage, refer to or engage with any form of conversion or reparative therapies or practices.
    • To not discriminate against anyone on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity in our community-based services or workplaces. This includes attempts to change or deny a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • To continue to demonstrate sensitivity to the complex social, emotional and spiritual needs of all people, and live out our core values of Service (we reach out to support others without discrimination), Dignity (we respect and value each other, recognizing everyone’s worth) and Hope (we give hope through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ).
    • To commit to deepening our understanding of the unique needs and experiences of LGBTQ2+ persons so that we may support them effectively, and with respect.


    There may be a need, or desire, to reflect on these remarks. I invite you to write and communicate with me directly as we consider together the direction The Salvation Army will take in the years to come.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Commissioner Floyd Tidd
    Territorial Commander 

    Territorial Statement Regarding Conversion Therapy

    The Context

    The Government of Canada recently introduced Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy) in the House of Commons. If and when passed, the Bill would prohibit several activities related to conversion therapy, defined as “a set of practices designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviours, or to change gender identity to cisgender” (a person’s gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth).

    According to the Library of Parliament, conversion therapy has its roots in the 19th century, a time when same-sex sexual activity was a crime and homosexuality was understood as a mental illness. Psychiatrists offered a range of interventions designed to change a person’s sexual orientation, which included addressing family dynamics, aversion techniques (electric shock treatments and induced nausea and vomiting), behavioural interventions (dating skills, assertiveness and affection towards the opposite sex) and cognitive interventions (reframing of thoughts and desires). In addition, ex-gay ministries, most notably Exodus International, developed in the 1970s in an effort to help people reconcile their same-sex attraction with their conservative religious beliefs.

    A growing body of research has shown that a person cannot change their sexual orientation at will, and practices aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, whether offered by licensed medical or mental-health professionals, or by faith-based organizations, have been shown to be both ineffective and harmful to those exposed to conversion therapy. Distress, anxiety, depression, negative self-image, a feeling of personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships, and sexual dysfunction are among the negative effects of conversion therapy.

    In recent years, the Canadian Psychiatric Association (2014), Canadian Psychological Association (2015) and Canadian Association of Social Workers (2018) have adopted statements or policies opposing the practice. The Canadian Psychiatric Association has recognized its own history of conflating LGBTQ2+ identities with mental illness and its contribution to the stigma and discrimination faced by people who identify as LGBTQ2+. Likewise, some former ex-gay ministries have done the same.

    In its Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care commits its members to “affirm the dignity and value of each individual,” and to “respect the diversity of cultural, ethnic, gender, racial, sexual-orientation, spiritual, religious, and disability experiences that people have and strive to eliminate discrimination.”

    Our Perspective

    While some have expressed concern about the impact of the Bill on freedom of religion and freedom of expression, and recommended amendments to it, The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory has chosen not to comment on the finer points of the legislation.

    Instead, recognizing that our Territorial Mission Statement is to share the love of Jesus Christ, meet human need and be a transforming influence in the communities of our world, we acknowledge the emotional, psychological, social and spiritual harms efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity have caused and we have opted to issue this statement, confirming our unequivocal opposition to their use.  The fundamental issue is not one of sexuality, but of a practice that is both ineffective with regard to its purported aims, and that does significant harm.

    Further, as confirmed by International Headquarters, we stand against homophobia, which victimizes people and can reinforce feelings of alienation, loneliness and despair. Salvation Army teaching is not that same-sex attraction is morally wrong or that people who experience same-sex attraction should become heterosexual.

    Finally, in our effort to live out our core values of Hope, Service, Dignity and Stewardship, we reaffirm our commitment to serve all who come to us in need - whether the need be spiritual, emotional or physical - without discrimination. Our love for God, and the love of God abiding within us (1 John 4:16), drives us to reach out to one another to provide care, meet human need, be a transforming influence in our communities. God’s love is not conditional, and neither is our commitment to serve.

    Believers are called to be like God and therefore to be living examples of his love in action. Christians are told to “accept one another… just as Christ accepted [them]” (Romans 15:7a), and to be “sympathetic, love one another, [and] be compassionate and humble” in their dealings (1 Peter 3:8). They are instructed to clothe themselves “with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience… And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:2,14).

    As the love of God “is to be known by its fruit” (Galatians 5:22), any action that causes harm to a person fails the test of love. The damage of conversion therapy cannot be justified in the light of an orientation of love.

    Therefore, knowingly approving of conversion therapy, which is known to bring harm, is not consistent with the love that God expects of believers.

    Our Response

    • We acknowledge the harm caused by conversion therapies, and that practices within the Christian church aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation have been both ineffective and harmful.
    • We acknowledge that there are members of The Salvation Army who identify as LGBTQ2+ persons, some of whom have been hurt by and within The Salvation Army.
    • We aim to be a church community where LGBTQ2+ persons find encouragement to develop their relationships with God. 
    • We will not act, directly or indirectly, to encourage, refer to, or engage with any form of conversion therapies or practices aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.  We will provide pastoral support, in the form of person-centred care, which helps people explore their authentic identity, without praying for a specific outcome in terms of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • In our community-based services and workplaces, we will not discriminate against anyone on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes attempts to change or deny a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • We will continue to demonstrate sensitivity to the complex social, emotional and spiritual needs of all people, and live out our core values of Service (we reach out to support others without discrimination), Dignity (we respect and value each other, recognizing everyone’s worth) and Hope (we give hope through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ).
    • We commit to deepening our understanding of the unique needs and experiences of LGBTQ2+ persons so that we may support them effectively, and with dignity.


    You can download a PDF of the statement here: Territorial Statement Regarding Conversion Therapy.

    Comment

    On Sunday, January 10, 2021, Geoffrey Pichora said:

    Please see the following web site for clarity and an opportunity to stand for religious freedom, parental rights, pastoral teaching, psychotherapeutic counseling and assistance to those in the LGBTQ community.

    https://fixthedefinition.ca/

     

    On Wednesday, December 23, 2020, Rachel S said:

    "As Bill C-6 seeks to outlaw coercive actions against individuals, the intention behind Bill C-6 is commendable. However, [some groups] note significant concern with the content of Bill C-6, especially its ambiguities..."

    Can you please read these two articles to have a well-rounded understanding on why some people raise concerns with Bill C-6 as it stands. These groups are not seeking to deny the Bill, but to amend some wording to protect all, including LGBTQ+ and their families.

    https://www.jccf.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/2020-11-10-Brief-re-Bill-C-6-to-Parliamentary-Committee-Final.pdf

    https://www.cccb.ca/announcement/statement-by-the-canadian-conference-of-catholic-bishops-on-bill-c-6-an-act-to-amend-the-criminal-code-conversion-therapy/

     

    On Tuesday, December 8, 2020, Geoff Butt said:

    This is a small step forward for the army and one I gladly welcome. The teachings of Christ will always trump my membership in The Salvation Army, and Jesus asks that we love everyone. In my view there should never be an ‘*’ after the phrase, ‘the whosoever will come.’ There will be those that disagree with my view; and that is okay. At least the powers that be have made a stance on the issue.

     

    On Tuesday, December 8, 2020, Damian Azak said:

    “One of the teachers of the Law of Moses came up while Jesus and the Sadducees were arguing. When he heard Jesus give a good answer, he asked him, “What is the most important commandment?” Jesus answered, “The most important one says: ‘People of Israel, you have only one Lord and God. You must love him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.’ The second most important commandment says: ‘Love others as much as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is more important than these.” The man replied, “Teacher, you are certainly right to say there is only one God. It is also true that we must love God with all our heart, mind, and strength, and that we must love others as much as we love ourselves. These commandments are more important than all the sacrifices and offerings that we could possibly make.” When Jesus saw that the man had given a sensible answer, he told him, “You are not far from God's kingdom.” After this, no one dared ask Jesus any more questions.” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:28-34‬ ‭CEV‬‬

     

    On Tuesday, December 8, 2020, Dave McFadden said:

    I appreciate Commissioner Tidd’s willingness to make a definitive statement on this issue in the interest of stopping the harm.

     

    On Tuesday, December 8, 2020, Anon said:

    “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.” ― Thomas Merton

    "Yes they will know we are Christians by our LOVE".

     

    On Tuesday, December 8, 2020, Geoffrey Pichora said:

    It was very interesting to read the position paper and all of the comments. I feel for those who have felt marginalized and shame that has resulted from their internal compass and how they have been treated. I appreciate those who voiced a strong commitment to the following of God’s will, purpose and righteousness as laid out in the Bible, the only unshakeable and reliable expression we have of God’s directive. I agree that we are called to share God’s grace, love and Gospel but we must not neglect the full expression of His teachings on sexuality and His intention for mankind. We must be careful not to fall into the trap of allowing governments, psychologists, Hollywood, popular culture, activists groups or our own inclinations to guide us. Recall Proverbs 3:5. These other agencies of reason are reminiscent of the prophets and priests of the Old Testament that embraced, taught and encouraged the false gods and teachings of the nations that surrounded Israel and ultimately brought on their judgement and discipline by God. I pray the Salvation Army can remain faithful to God’s word and teaching while still able to reach out in love and grace to those who are in need of His redemption.

    Lastly, I would like to encourage the readers to not be deceived by the rhetoric of the “studies” regarding what has and hasn’t worked. As a retired science teacher, I appreciate the benefits of science but also know how science is used to misguide people in much the same way that selective quoting of scripture is. 

    On Monday, December 7, 2020, Jacob said:

    I am so saddened to see all of these comments. We will get nowhere as a church if we don't listen to each other. Dooming LGBTQ people to the fringes of your denomination is not even remotely inclusive or welcoming. You can't say we love you BUT not your lifestyle. LOVE never has a 'but'.

     

    On Monday, December 7, 2020, Past Discussions said:

    Social Issues Committee examines Army's relationship with LGBT+ community. January 13, 2015 by Kristin Ostensen

    https://salvationist.ca/articles/2015/01/open-to-question/

    A discussion of the topic by Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory's Social Issues Committee (SIC)

    Was there a report produced and is it available? It may help in a broader discussion.

     

    On Monday, December 7, 2020, William Roberts said:

    While saddened and troubled by this decision, i am not that surprised. It is symptomatic of the entire Christian church, including The Salvation Army, of the self-created problem of not being able to distinguish between the call to serve and love others, while also maintaining Scriptural standards and living a Holy life for those of us who call ourselves Salvationists. As a church there is nothing wrong with maintaining Biblical standards to what is morally right and wrong; what is holy and unholy. Unfortunately, in our culture, words like repentance, submission, accountability and holiness don’t sound politically correct. They are called “hate speech” because they don’t include everyone. We feel that we have to love our neighbor into a salvation experience, and that includes allowing for rationalization of any sin in one’s life. While everyone IS welcome to hear the Gospel story, and we are called to love our neighbor, we are also not called to lead them towards a path of sinful destruction and thereby only preach half of the Gospel story. In fact without repentance towards God we can’t start the salvation process. Christ wouldn’t have had to die if there was nothing to save us from. Our 7th doctrine even states this. And once we have repented, we are then called to lead a different life; a holy life. We are called to lead a life that continues our salvation and leads us into holy living by the power of the Holy Spirit. At the end of Jesus’s encounter with the woman caught in adultery, He told her to “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11). Jesus didn’t just call her to Him for salvation, He called her to live differently from that point on. We are called to live differently. Is The Salvation Army in Canada ready to do that? Open our doors to everyone, yes. But what is the next step after? What will your sermons from the pulpit sound like?

    As i said, this culture doesn’t like words like submission. However that’s what we are called to do (James 4:7). I will never attempt to tell someone to feel a certain way. If someone has same-sex attraction or feels incomplete in the person they are at this moment, I won’t tell them what they are feeling is wrong. What i will tell them is that we have a God who loves them and can fill that void in their life. We have a Savior who loves them so much, that by submitting that part of their life, He can fulfill the desires of the flesh. Christ can satisfy all of their needs in Him. We should never tell someone, saved or unsaved, to actively pursue a sinful lifestyle or unholy action. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:13-14 that the gate to life is narrow. We might have to give up things in our life that don’t please Him. Sending someone down the wide path of destruction is not an act of love on our parts. We have all been tempted with something, and are still being tempted today. What tempts me might be different than what tempts my neighbor. Whatever that temptation might be, The Salvation Army needs to be a place of hope and refuge to provide a place to help one to overcome that sin, that struggle, We are called to provide an environment where the Holy Spirit can work in a persons life. Perhaps our message here should be more of God, and less of me. (John 3:30)

    The Bible is very clear on what is sin. Perhaps we don’t want to seem insensitive and not call out sin when we see it. The Bible makes specific references to how God created us and what is a proper, holy way to live, and, conversely, what is considered unholy. Whether by specific listings of actions or by examples of what/what not to do, Scripture is emphatic that we live Godly, holy, sanctified lives. 1 Peter 1 exhorts us to be obedient children and not to conform to evil desires. That same chapter says quite plainly, without any room for misinterpretation, to “Be Holy.” We serve a Holy God. Before we can get to the love of God, we must see that He is a Holy God. He was a Holy God before we were created for Him to love.

    In terms of conversion therapy, we do need to be careful on how we address it and our stance on anything the government says. However, keep in mind The Salvation Army is in the business of conversions. We strive to change sinners into saints. We strive to “convert” addicts and alcoholics into a life free of substance abuse. We “convert” the hungry into the fed, and the homeless into the sheltered. We want broken people made whole. How will it be when the government says that by preaching repentance, salvation, and sanctification from the pulpit is considered “conversion” therapy and dangerous. Look at what is being said now; it is not a stretch to far for this to occur. We need to be careful of what we are proponents for and opponents of. Line all of this up with the Word of God and then go from there. (Quite frankly, this was an area The Salvation Army did not need to venture into in the first place. Who are we trying to appease by making this statement?)

    Some who read this will write it off as being homophobic or narrow minded. Unfortunately, that is a weapon of those who rationalize sin and are comfortable with being culturally appropriate. You should never conflate homophobia with maintaining Biblical standards and promoting the holy lifestyle of Christ. Unfortunately, we’ve decided that it sounds too harsh to tell someone to repent. We’ve gotten comfortable with half-hearted altar calls and not holding Salvationists (both soldiers and officers) accountable to the holy life we are all called to live. We want to make it so easy that we forget that the grace and mercy freely given to us all was obtained at a significant price. We cheapen that when we basically tell someone that the sin they are struggling with isn’t one that concerns God and wasn’t one that His Son died for. And please don’t mistake what i am saying for some sort of works gospel. Living a holy life is far from it. Living a holy life shows the Lord just how much we love Him; calling others to do the same is the true spreading of His love.

     

    On Monday, December 7, 2020, Juan said:

    Several years ago, I wrote a series of articles for the Salvationist about contemporary social challenges facing us as individuals and as an organization. I stopped writing because I became conflicted about whether I was doing more harm than good by tackling such subject matter. While some of it provoked new ways of thinking and generous dialogue, much of it brought out a darkness that I had not seen before. Topics that touched on LGBT2Q+ issues seemed to be a consistent lightning rod.

    I often regret one that I wrote in 2012. I don’t regret the content. Writing eight years later I probably would push the issue harder now. I regret the dozens and dozens of comments that flowed online. While many were respectful and helpful, a good number were not. People who had reached out to me privately to thank me for writing wrote a second time, after seeing the comments, to say that any hope they were having was being extinguished by what they saw from other Salvationists.

    These many years later I see that many of their concerns were justified. This statement by the territorial commander should be the low-hanging fruit we should expect Salvationists to be able to grab ahold of. There is nothing in this that is controversial. Conversion therapy is an atrocious concept and practice that we should all be able to agree on. People are asking why The Salvation Army is taking up this issue. It is because it is before our federal government and, in case some readers haven’t noticed, The Salvation Army often voices its opinion to government through letters and formal statements. Do a search through past articles on this website. Maybe we don’t remember those because this is the one issue that we keep our eye on.

    Which brings me to another issue and that is the prejudice around this that we fail to recognize within ourselves. Why did my article in 2012 elicit dozens of responses but the volume of responses to other important issues I wrote about paled in comparison? Why do we wonder why the Army is addressing this issue that only speaks to a “tiny minority” of our membership, but not one comment was posted questioning why Commissioner Tidd sent a letter to the Prime Minister about the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan? Our preoccupation with needing to comment negatively on any conversation that promotes LGBT2Q+ rights and dignity is out of whack with rest of our justice responses. It is the kind of bias that leads people to make comments here that unfairly says that the Bible discusses homosexuality in great detail. That could not be further from the truth. There are only a few verses in the entire Bible that people can point to – the infamous ‘clobber passages’ – that allegedly condemn homosexuality. But those aren’t so clear as some preachers would have you think. Space does not permit an exhaustive debunking of the traditional interpretation of these passages. Suffice to say, there are plenty of good resources out there if you are willing to have an open mind and not be afraid of what you might discover.

    I would ask people to check their own biases. The things we say have impact. Just reading the initial comments here I can easily see that there are a significant number of people who are former soldiers and officers who have been hurt because of our response to this issue. Using our organization’s response to Bill C-6, which should be a no-brainer, to further pile on is not a good reflection of our character. If we can’t get behind this without catastrophizing and preaching doom and gloom, then we are not going to have much of a voice anymore. I think that is the more dangerous threat to our mission and existence.

     

    On Monday, December 7, 2020, louisa frampton said:

    Wilberforce, thank you for mentioning The Bible! Salvationists spend far too little time in the Word! If they did, we would not be having this discussion. Our first doctrine says :We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by the inspiration of God and that THEY ONLY constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith & Practice" Both the Old and New Testaments discuss homosexuality in great detail and both say they are against the will of God While it is true that Jesus welcomed everyone, that's not the whole story! He not only welcomed and forgave them, he also changed them. He NEVER sent them back to their old way of life! Rather, He told them "Neither do I condemn you-go and sin NO MORE" We tend to forget that part! Everywhere I go I see signs that say "Love is love" But is it? ... Just a word of caution! The scriptures also tell us that the day will come when people will not want to hear the truth but will want to be told what they want to hear! I think we might be heading that way! God help The Salvation Army if we are!

     

    On Sunday, December 6, 2020, stephen noseworthy said:

    1. I applaud Australia for clamping down on many avenues that breed hate and discrimination. And if anyone out there is having trouble understanding why praying over someone for God to change their sexuality does in fact breed hate then might I suggest you have a conversation with any LGBTQ+ Christian who were made to feel ashamed of who they were because “God had a better plan.” 2. While it is difficult to actually measure the incidence of homosexuality in a given society, one can safely assume that there are more than a ‘tiny minority’. And as we have witnessed already in this discourse there are a good number of salvationists (current and former) who identify as gay and many many more who are struggling! Most of them will consider suicide as a way out and some of them will actually take that route! That’s not to mention other members of the LGBTQ+ community. Furthermore, isn’t just one who is forced to feel ashamed and hurt too many? 3. Re: letting same sex couples becoming band members. I guess I never realized that opposite sex couples were so good at not sleeping with people they shouldn’t. Maybe there should be no band or songsters at all if it is only meant to be a hetero club anyway! It’s time to cut the exclusive country club lifestyle that exists within the Salvation Army and start accepting people for who they are. Honestly!

     

    On Sunday, December 6, 2020, Grant Janes said:

    As many have shared, yes this is a step in the right direction, however, it’s 2020 and baby steps at this time are no longer acceptable in my and many peoples opinions anymore!

    Salvation Army, you have hurt many over the years, and it’s time we face the facts I do believe. You have left persons to feel that they had no place or belonging in The Salvation Army Pew, let alone the band, songsters, uniform or ministry...and yet you stand back, wondering why, you are found in the pile of dry bones.

    You have individuals like myself who, proudly after many years of inner battling and the teaching/preaching of The Salvation Army, beat myself up mentally, emotionally for years, but now, aside from that, with professional help, because of the damage you have been apart of, I am able to see value in the person God has created me to be. An openly proud gay male, who has no intention of ever entering back into a private closet, or space for or over a denomination.

    You have hurt many by your stance, man made rule and regulations and your comments Salvation Army, and as it was stated this past week in your revitalization forum, by one of your guest speakers, it’s time for true apologies and yes, for an apology to be recognized as genuine, in my thoughts and education than there also ought to be change.

    We are actually past that time and you need to stand up and give account and answer to and for the hurt and shame that you have caused people to feel, rather than make little steps forward. Trust me when I say this, the marginalized persons of the LGBTQ2+, are looking for just that... “Big steps forward!”

    I think of one particular situation, for privacy and dignity of the corps and officers, who at the time were appointed I won’t share all particulars of that day, however allow me to put or paint a picture of perspective and incident for The Office of The Territorial Commander. Asking a congregation member if they were still a part of the dirty lifestyle, so that I could be prayed over, is in no way acceptable...to which, it was never encouraged that the person cease. Upon my need to stand and excuse myself from the service, a unnamed officer followed after me, and in the parking lot, standing there their hands, holding mine the statement was made, but I just don’t understand your lifestyle, only making the situation of the day worse, leading me to have to say and once again I echo, it is time that The Salvation Army, practice what it is we preach, if we are going to move forward and not die. If you are going to preach love and acceptance for all, then let us do just that love and accept all, for who the person is, not who you would want to see them be, may we be found beginning to leave that work up to God and not man, we have proven over and over and over again that when left to man, we hurt, harm and destroy!

    So Love, Acceptance and Inclusion for all...will we that, in days to come is the question?

    Allow me to back my statements up by stating I’m the one that has been appointed with this cross! There are parts of it, I yet understand, I’ve cried over and through it, I’ve crossed many valley, climbed mountains, left it at the cross, lost family due over it, lost hope in our organization of hope, not only have I bathed it but saturated it in prayer. I have to believe after all this, doing what I have been called to do, for the past 40+ years, believing that our Lord still to this day is a awesome and powerful Lord, and that if he seen it as a thorn in my side as some have called it, then by now I would hope that He would have removed it, prior to now. So as I have grown deeper and deeper in my faith journey, I will remain grounded in the, strength of the Lord, the one that reminds me to love me for who I am, who he created and not what other, denominations included think or want me to be.

    So here I sit, still to this day trying to understand, if and do I really have a place that I fit within the walls of The Salvation Army! For now I say yes, that is because I will not be told by man made faith denomination, that I do not have a place or that I fit! That would be giving in to easily.

    On top of all of this I would also like to add, for the past 10 weeks I have attended the territorial discussion forum on growth and revitalization within The Salvation Army, first of all I must comment that I am somewhat disappointed, in the fact that, at no time has there been a direct focus on focusing on who and what specific groups are marginalized, in my opinion would be the correct most valuable areas to begin, rather then how can we change our service by moving outside our buildings as the focus.

    I am afraid to say, from what I see and witness regularly, if we soon don’t dive into the shallow end of the pool, face the facts, the hurts that are right before our very eyes, we are going to as a organization and denomination, have to settle and be ok with remaining in the pile of dry, brittle bones! as most individuals, won’t stand behind a movement that preaches and teaches love and acceptance on Sunday, but on Monday, has differing practices, moral and value within and for people.

    Unfortunately i have to say, I am coming to realize in a difficult way, out of to love and value for myself that if change through this 12 week cry for help, is not met or adopted, than I also am afraid I will have to make the sad statement, I have no place within The Salvation Army.

    Until we as a denomination can openly and are capable of saying, come as you are, not expecting me or others to change the mold, to fit man made Salvation Army parameters, asking that we be apart of you, so you have and are able to experience a full experience, then we really have not yet arrived, where we truly ought to be found. Leave the adjustment and change to God...if at all and where needed!

    What and Who we were first of all created to be...fighter for and of true Justice! Rather a destroyer of moral, value, dignity and personal respect!

    Remember where it is Jesus was always found, on a dry dusty and humble road, in and among the crowds of people, loving, accepting them as they were, not for who He wanted them to be!

    This in my true honest opinion is where we need to begin...if we are going to see growth...we need to get back to the very truths, the basics, love for all, who people are, not who you want or think they should be!

    In response, to all the comments, that seem to have come from passionate hearts and places and spaces, it would be lovely and respected to see a response from our Territorial Commander, who in my opinion is highly respected!

    I also hope and trust that this too will foster a greater need for greater conversation, between the Territorial Commanders Office and the Office of The General.

    Blessings, It’s time that the hurt...be rectified with and by apology and change!

    Stated and shared from a very passionate heart!

     

    On Sunday, December 6, 2020, Concerned said:

    I am not sure why the Army has chosen to comment on this piece of legislation. I think there is so much else of infinitely more pressing concern to our movement than this. And I would think, as the Commissioner fairly notes, that the now "official" view will likley not be shared by all Salvationists. And, of course, submitting to conversion therapy is voluntary to begin with. It always struck me as odd that if one doesn't want some form of any kind of treatment or therapy then simply don't have it.

    I suppose the larger, infinitely more thorny issue our Army will have to grapple with in the future will indeed be the place for that tiny minority of Salvationists that might identify themselves as member of the LGBTQx2 community. Now that we have come out in favour of the conversion therapy bill, will solemnization of same sex marriage in our halls be far behind? Should a same sex couple be permitted or welcomed in our band and songster brigades?

    I offer no opinion on these or other issues, other than to say that they will probably arise. There are no easy answers, but I hope that they will be dealt with in a manner that does not do any further damage to our Army as an evangelical Protestant denominsation, as unique ad small as we now are. We don't need any more divisive hits to the struggling vitality of our movement.

     

    On Sunday, December 6, 2020, Jose Porcia said:

    There is a bill that is being introduced into parliament in the state of Victoria in Australia.

    It is referred to as Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020.

    I hope the Canadian Bill is nothing like this. Under the Australian Bill, dangerous practices include the following:

    1.Churches that state “change is possible”

    2. Churches that have a “welcoming but not affirming stance”

    3.Churches that are “saturated with an exclusively heterosexual ideology”

    4.The idea that same-sex attracted people are committed to celibacy

    5.Discussions in faith-based settings between freely consenting adults

    6.Scripture reading

    7.Prayer

    Praying over someone who is having doubts, or when pastor a counsels a person using scriptures are considered criminal acts.

    Laws are designed to correct something that is evil or remedy an injustice. "If coercion, abuse or torture were actually happening in your church or mine, “conversion therapy” laws would be appropriate. But those things are not happening. Conversion therapy laws are a ruse being used to restrict religious freedoms."

    Put simply, there are those who do not like what Christians believe and they want to make it criminal. It’s an attack on people’s basic freedoms masquerading as a movement against torture.

    We’re all against torture— but that is not what Aust bill is about. It’s a hook to get politicians to undermine what is effectively the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is what's happening in Australia.

    I hope Canadian Salvos look into the finer details of this bill away from headlines of 'torture' and 'violence.' It could be a false marketing.

    I'm only a new Christian. I became a Salvo in the last 5 years. John 15:3 "there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for ones friends".

    Christ's love is firmly anchored on the belief of 'Moral Absolute'. But it seems the Christian worldview today is that love and morality are mutually exclusive and incongruent. That renders the gospel of death and resurrection moot. Perhaps Christian worldview is a relic.

     

    On Saturday, December 5, 2020, stephen noseworthy said:

    Ok, so this issue is obviously near and dear to my heart and so I will leave a second comment. This is the first opportunity I have had to publicly comment on the hurt I endured as a young ‘in the closet’ gay Salvationist and so I will gladly take advantage of it As per my earlier comment I no longer subscribe the the S.A. dogma condoning discrimination of the marginalized in society and so I don’t even know why I care anymore. But maybe, just maybe, I believe there is still hope that one day the S.A. will return to its roots and start fighting for those living in the margins of our society. Maybe it’s because I have had personal conversations with our current General and Canadian Commissioner about my sexuality and homosexuality in general. Someone, eventually, will not just listen but act. For far too long now the S.A. has adopted the passive role of collecting money and distributing it to the down trodden, which, of course, is hard work and I applaud those close friends of mine who are on the front lines at these shelters and counselling centres, but the Salvation Army used to be an agent of social change. They used to fight for equal rights of the marginalized in society. The SA was instrumental in obtaining liberties and freedoms for women, children and those who suffered from addiction back in its early days. But where are they now? Why have they sat passively by while LGBTQ+ people are discriminated against, beaten and even killed? Why have they not lead the fight for decriminalization of all drugs in order to remove the stigma of addiction? Why are they not speaking out against racism, gun violence and violence against women? If we really want the S.A. to abide by its biblical origins then it needs to be a light, an advocate, and a warrior for those it aims to serve. That’s how they can earn respect when it comes to accepting Bill C-6. Words mean nothing, nothing without action.

     

    On Saturday, December 5, 2020, Comment said:

    The Salvation Army has no "skin in the game" when it comes to conversion therapy so this statement is easy to produce with the usual platitudes. If the organization truly believed that same-sex attraction was an intergral part of the person that God created and should not attempt to be changed, as they say, they would act differently.

    This Army would welcome open LGBTQ+ Salvationists and their partners and families into soldiership, the band, the Corps Council, Mission Board and officership. Instead the organization continues a "love the sinner, hate the sin" and "there but for the grace of God go I" approach to welcoming the LGBTQ+ community. They are added to the list of people that full whole real Salvationists can feel better helping and loving.

    I hope that next week Commissioner Tidd, and maybe even General Peddle,will be so quick to acknowledge the thousands of people they have excluded over the years who have found no home in this denomination, or sit in the pews in silent shame knowing that the real fellowship preached from the pulpit isn't meant for them.

    Unfortunately the Salvation Army, as a Christian denomination has not had the courage to be as open and honest about organizational doctrine, and behavior, in this area as others. Sadly this likely stems from fear of offending donors.

     

    On Saturday, December 5, 2020, William Franke said:

    This statement needs some wording added, removed, and changed. We can love a person without condoning their sin. Jesus is very clear about this. Why is the Salvation Army conforming to the standards of this world instead of holding firm in our biblical truth? Homosexuality is a sin...this is very clear. This does not mean we hate homosexuals, we hate their sin. It's no different than other sins. We should be treating all people with dignity and respect regardless, but this is a move in a direction that is coming too close to striving for the acceptance of worldly values. This is a dangerous step from the Salvation Army.

     

    On Saturday, December 5, 2020, Brad Oxford said:

    This statement will help in the healing process of many Salvationist and former Salvationist who have been wounded by past experiences. I know The Salvation Army has done its "homework" on this issue and have come to this reasonable stance. I implore Salvation Army leadership to not stop here and to continue doing the right thing as there is still much work to be done on this issure.

     

    On Saturday, December 5, 2020, Jen Thompson said:

    This is love in action.

     

    On Saturday, December 5, 2020, Julia Andersson said:

    This is a step in the right direction. I hope to see LGBTQ+ people fully included in our church on a worldwide level. Historically The Salvation Army has been a church for the most marginalized people, and we should stand up for everyone today still.

     

    On Friday, December 4, 2020, Wilberforce Barasa said:

    Morality cannot be legislated but it be regulated. As Christians, our guiding tools should be three; (I) The Bible, (ii) The Bible & (iii) The Bible.

    I think the greatest want in the contemporary Christian faith now is the want for a believer who will call sin by it's real name.

    We lost the moral compass

     

    On Friday, December 4, 2020, stephen noseworthy said:

    As a FORMER active Salvationist, I will always carry with me the shame I felt as I struggled with my sexuality while trying to conform to the Salvation Army’s rules and regulations preventing me from accepting my true self. After coming out as gay in my late 30’s, I was told outright, by order from THQ Canada, that I was no longer allowed to be a band or songster member because I was gay, which was clearly discrimination (see bullet point 5) It took me several years to finally fully accept myself, reject the Salvation Army and its beliefs. While the S.A’s stance on Bill C-6 is a step in the right direction, I feel obliged to remind the Salvation Army that Homosexual civil union has been legal in Canada since 2002 and the S.A. has yet to officially recognize gay marriage. To speak of accepting LGBTQ+ individuals as legitimate members of their congregation yet refuse to conduct, or accept, gay marriage is, of course, hypocritical and still fosters a sense of shame and inequality; not even to mention the two-tiered soldier vs. Adherent (second class) membership that exists within its own walls. We are already 2 decades into the 21st century, baby steps on issues like this are too small. It is time to leap forward like grownups!

     

    On Friday, December 4, 2020, Laura Hepditch said:

    I echo Catherine Everden’s comment. My hope is that supporting this bill will open more conversations in the Salvation Army as to further affirm and lift up lgbtq2ia+ community.

     

    On Friday, December 4, 2020, Catherine Evenden said:

    I am grateful to see this stance being publicized but look forward to the day when the desire to treat people with dignity will mean full inclusion for LCTBQ2+ Officers and soldiers in The Salvation Army.

     

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