Jeromie Williams Eats The Internet For Breakfast
The Salvation Army has long heralded itself as the last bastion for the poor, the down trodden, the addicted and the lost, but a growing tide of opposition to their anti LGBT policies has been gaining force in the last five years.
The latest voice to join the chorus is the editorial board of The Ubyssey, the largest student paper in Western Canada on the campuses of the University of British Columbia. Tasked with the moral decision to either accept or reject an advertisement request from the Salvation Army, the editorial board for the paper ultimately decided to block the ad, and gave the following as to their reason why:
To whom it may concern:
After considerable staff discussion and a vote by the editorial board, The Ubyssey has opted to decline to run an advertisement from the Salvation Army, slated for the Oct. 25 print edition.
The editorial board had grave concerns about both the content and source of the advertisement and thus cannot, in good conscience, accept it for publication.
In a unanimous vote, the editorial board decided that we are uncomfortable running an ad from an organization like the Salvation Army. In the past 10 years, branches of the Salvation Army have petitioned all levels of government for policies that deny equal rights to LGBTQ people. In 2004, the Salvation Army threatened to leave New York City entirely because of an ordinance that required groups with contracts from the city to “offer benefits to gay employees’ partners,” according to the New York Times. Their current position statement on homosexuality “calls for chastity outside of heterosexual marriage.” While the Canadian branch has been less vocal on this front, we believe the organization as a whole ultimately dehumanizes a group of people on the basis of their sexuality.
Like many other student newspapers in Canada, The Ubyssey has a longstanding ad boycott policy that allows the editorial board to refuse ads that are “overtly sexist, racist or homophobic.” As an editorial board, we can decline advertisements not only because of offending ad copy or artwork, but because we disagree with the source of the ad.
The Ubyssey also maintains a policy against running advertisements from either side of the abortion debate. In our experience, ads that are either “pro-choice” or “pro-life” do little to advance civil debate on the issue. The following paragraph, which appears in the advertisement in the shape of a hypodermic needle, is a clear violation of that policy:
“Before you know it, I’m a 24-year-old prostitute trying to support a crack habit. Then it happened. I found out I was having a baby. I wanted an abortion but I got thrown in jail before I could do it. That gave me time to think. When I got out, I knew what I had to do. So I started a support program to help me find what I’d been missing most. My self-esteem. Today I’m three years clean and have a beautiful baby girl. That’s the war on drugs Salvation Army helped me win.”
We understand that the Salvation Army provides vital social services like soup kitchens, shelters and thrift shops in many communities. But it also endorses and actively lobbies for social policies that shame people for who they are. It is on these grounds that we must decline this advertisement.
The Ubyssey editorial board
Did The Ubyssey make the right decision? Should the Salvation Army change their policies towards the LGBT community? Does the Salvation Army have a right to operate any way it wants? Leave a comment below, and start the conversation.