The University of California in Berkeley is considering a student government resolution calling for Salvation Army bell ringers to be banned from campus over allegations the charity is “anti-gay.”
The resolution accused the Salvation Army of discriminating against gays and lesbians and urged the public university to immediately revoke their license to operate on campus property.
“Allowing the Salvation Army to collect donations on campus is a passive form of financial assistance, that empowers the organization to spend the money it raises here in order to discriminate and advocate discrimination against queer people,” the resolution reads.
The story was first reported by Campus Reform.
Student government leaders feared that homosexual students “may take offense to the presence of collection containers operated by a discriminatory religious organization in their places of living.”
Salvation Army spokesperson Jennifer Byrd denied the ministry is anti-gay – and took offense to a particular passage that accused them of offering help only to people “who accept and abide by the Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline, which exclusive homosexuality.”
She told Fox News that accusation is “totally false.”
“The only requirement for service from The Salvation Army is demonstrated need and our ability to meet it,” she said. “Any allegation of discrimination at a Salvation Army center is thoroughly investigated because it’s against our established policy and practice.”
She stressed that their mission is to “preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
Byrd also took issue with allegations that the Salvation Army raises money to advocate discrimination – again calling it “false.”
“Money contributed in Berkeley – or anywhere else – stays in the community where it was given to provide services to people in need,” she said.
Reaction to the possible ban has been mixed.
Nick Helbig told KGO, “Donating to the Salvation Army doesn’t mean that you’re prejudiced against gays and lesbians, it just means that you want to help people.”
But a number of critics have lashed out against the Christian charity on websites like Towelroad.
“I can’t stand it, can’t walk into the grocery store without hearing that stupid bell, that hurts your ears when it’s cold, and then they say Merry Christmas at me like they know I’m gay and would be offended by it,” one reader wrote.