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Salvation Army Learns What Oreo Cookies Already Knows: Americans Like Groups That Support Gay Rights

Companies like Oreo have realized that supporting gay rights is good business. The Salvation Army is learning that lesson the hard way.

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Ryan: So we should die.

Craibe: You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief.

The Salvation Army has long been the target of LGBTQ rights groups for its anti-gay policies and lobbying efforts. (The group professes that homosexuality is a sin forbidden by the Bible and has been accused of denying services to LGBTQ individuals and pressuring clients to renounce homosexuality.)

In the past, efforts to draw attention to the charity’s policies have not reached a particularly mainstream audience. But now, Craibe’s inference that gay people deserve to die has blown up all over the media. It’s bringing a ton of attention to the policies that the Salvation Army is perhaps less open about these days, given the shift in attitudes about LGBTQ rights in the U.S.

The Salvation Army may not be a corporation like Nike or Kraft, but it is a major international charity, and charities are big business these days. There’s no question that the group is motivated at least in part by improving its bottom line (i.e., maximizing donations).

Indeed, it certainly seems that the group is now trying to backtrack. The organization has apologized "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” and said that it wishes to build "a more healthy relationship with the GLBT community” -- something it seems unlikely to do as long as it continues to declare homosexuality a sin.

In other words, the Salvation Army is learning the lesson that Kraft obviously already knows: the tide is turning, and you have to turn with it to keep making a buck.

Lauren Kelley is the activism and gender editor at AlterNet and a freelance journalist based in New York City. Her work has appeared in Salon, Time Out New York, the L Magazine, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter.