The Salvation Army in Australia has clarified comments a spokesperson made on Thursday in which he appeared to endorse the view that practicing homosexuals are worthy of death in the eyes of God.
Media Relations Director of the Salvation Army Australia’s Southern Territory, Major Andrew Craibe (pictured), had repeatedly refused to disavow sections of the Army’s Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine which cite a passage from the book of Romans that states that ‘those who do such things deserve death’ when being interviewed by Melbourne gay radio station Joy FM.
‘That’s a part of our belief system,’ Craibe told Joy FM.
‘We have an alignment to the scriptures … That is part of our Christian doctrine and that’s our understanding of that.’
However the Salvation Army’s Communications and Public Relations Secretary for its Eastern Territory, Major Bruce Harmer, has now apologized for what he termed a ‘miscommunication’ on the part of Craibe.
‘The Salvation Army sincerely apologizes to all members of the [LGBT] community and to all our clients, employees, volunteers and those who are part of our faith communities for the offence caused by this miscommunication,’ Harmer said in a statement.
Harmer said that the Salvation Army did not believe that homosexuality should result in any form of physical punishment and that they interpreted the passage in Romans as referring to spiritual death resulting from separating oneself from God, not bodily death.
‘The Scripture in question, viewed in its broader context, is not referring to physical death, nor is it specifically targeted at homosexual behaviour,’ Harmer said, ‘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 Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of all human life and believes it would be inconsistent with Christian teaching to call for anyone to be put to death. We consider every person to be of infinite value, and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and preserved.
Harmer said that the Salvation Army was working to build bridges with the LGBT community.
‘The leadership of The Salvation Army continues to reflect on Christian and Biblical tradition, and especially on the themes of justice and mercy, to further deepen the understandings of our own members and build a more healthy relationship with the [LGBT] community,’ Harmer said.
‘We pledge to continue to offer services to all Australians and to treat each person with dignity, respect and non-discrimination.’