Controversy continues to dog the Salvation Army in Australia after a disturbing radio interview with one of its senior officials made international headlines at the weekend.
Major Andrew Craibe, a Salvation Army media relations director in Victoria, left JOY 94.9 radio hosts Serena Ryan and Pete Dillon almost speechless last week after he defended the organisation’s handbook of doctrine which said gay people should be put to death.
The pair interviewed Craibe following calls from pop star Darren Hayes to consider a boycott of the Salvation Army because of their anti-gay beliefs.
They were discussing the Salvation Army’s official position on homosexuality when Ryan mentioned the Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine, a manual published to coach Salvation Army soldiers and people preparing to enter church membership.
The handbook includes a section called The Problem of Evil (page 28) which cites Romans 1:18-32, the section of the Bible containing a violent condemnation of homosexuality that includes a verse that says “those who practise such things deserve to die”.
Ryan pressed Craibe on why the organisation’s handbook cites a scriptural passage which calls for the execution of gay people.
“Well, that’s a part of our belief system,” Craibe said.
Ryan then sought to then clarify his position, asking if homosexuals really did deserve to die.
“You know, we have an alignment to the scriptures, but that’s our belief,” he responded.
Following widespread outrage at the comments, Salvation Army communications and public relations secretary for the eastern territory, Major Bruce Harmer, issued a statement yesterday acknowledging that Craibe’s comments were a “miscommunication” that resulted in a misrepresentation of the group’s official teaching.
“The Salvation Army sincerely apologises 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 offence caused by this miscommunication,” his statement read.
Harmer further stated that the Salvation Army was committed to building a “more healthy relationship with the GLBT community”.
Listen to the full interview below.