The Salvation Army’s Major Andrew Craibe stirred up a media shit storm
last month, drawing attention to a long-standing official homophobic
doctrine in the organisation, requiring gay officers to be celibate.
This position may not be around for long, given the concerted push
for change that is coming from the Church’s rank and file.
Pete Zayonce is an openly gay soldier at the Maquarie Park Salvos. He’s part of a large movement to end homophobia that is allegedly
occurring within the Salvation Army. Mr Zayonce said: “The first thing that everyone is doing is building a relationship, because one of the challenges that I feel as a gay man is that a lot of people who have anti-gay sentiment don’t even know gay people. They’re kind of like “those people over-there,” and so it really is about building relationships.
“Like any church denomination there are some parts that are very
forward thinking and there are some that are very narrow minded. It can
manifest itself in all sorts of different ways, in the sense of just being overlooked for invitations to things, or if they want something done they might ask somebody else instead of asking you. Sometimes its not an outward way of that happening, its more you’re not as included as perhaps somebody else.”
“I feel that change is possible, but I don’t think its going to be a fast change. The reality is, because of the way the organization works, it would be an internal process that does take some time.”
Rev Karl Hand is an openly gay pastor at CRAVE Metropolitan Community Church and has worked with a number of Salvos over the years in the course of ministry. He was invited to preach at Maquarie Park salvos following the comments made by Major Andrew Craibe last month. Rev Hand believes boycotting the Salvos is a bad idea and said change needs to come from inside.
“There are just a lot of Salvation Army people who believe essentially
that the whole point is to be on the side of the oppressed and marginalised; that was their original statement. So to them, it seems of course that the Salvation Army is going to be in favour of supporting gay and lesbian people because that’s just basic values,” Rev Hand said.
“In almost every church at the moment there is a movement to be
more inclusive; every denomination has people who are working on it.
“The movement for change within the salvation army is the most powerful force for change. We need to support it and tarring them all
with the same brush and boycotting the whole army actually hurts those
people more than the people who are causing the problem, because
the homophobic people who are in the Salvos probably couldn’t care
less if they’re being boycotted or not, because it doesn’t affect them.”