B.C. Salvation Army volunteer tells gay rights supporters not to donate
CTV British Columbia
Published Saturday, December 15, 2012 4:58PM PST
Last Updated Saturday, December 15, 2012 6:45PM PST
A Salvation Army bell-ringer has been pulled from his post outside Victoria, B.C. after urging anyone who supports gay rights to hold on to their donations.
Area resident Andrea Le Good said she noticed the man standing with a kettle outside the Tillicum Centre mall on Saturday wearing a sign that read, “If you support gay rights: please do not donate.”
“I was stunned,” Le Good said. “I asked, ‘Does the Salvation Army know you’re wearing that?’ and he said yes, that he had received permission to do so this morning.”
Some have interpreted the sign as homophobic, while others suggest the man was protesting statements the Salvation Army has made in the past about homosexuality.
The charity’s website describes marriage as heterosexual by definition, and a previously published document called on homosexuals to “embrace celibacy as a way of life.”
The same document also stated that there is no scriptural support for the mistreatment of homosexuals, and that the Salvation Army does not consider the sexual orientation “blameworthy in itself or simply a matter of the will.”
The site currently states that the organization’s position on homosexuality is "under review."
Salvation Army spokeswoman Kyla Ferns told CTV News that her organization had no part in the sign, and pulled the volunteer away immediately after learning about it.
“We just want to let the public know that we don’t discriminate against any sect of the public, and we’re a little disappointed that one of our volunteers chose to protest this way,” Ferns said.
The Christian charity will be meeting with the young man, who appears to be in his 20s, this week to discuss whether he can continue volunteering.
The Salvation Army, which operates in 126 countries, is collecting donations at 40 kettles throughout the Greater Victoria area this holiday season, and is providing for 1,600 local families.
Ferns said she’s worried the volunteer’s actions will affect the number of donations they receive leading up to Christmas.
“We’re just trying to look after the needs of the community, with the support of the community, so everybody can have a merry Christmas through toys and nutritional food.”
Correction: A previous version of this story suggested the sign was homophobic. It's unclear what the bell-ringer's intention in wearing it was.