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This is the city's most valuable tree and we do hope it is provided more respect than what is currently being shown.
Molly Batchelder, Oakland
I was very disappointed to see the Express email promoting the anti-gay Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army has a history of active discrimination against gays and lesbians. While you might think you're helping the hungry and homeless by dropping a few dollars in the bright red buckets, or shopping their stores, not everyone can share in the donations. Many LGBT people are rejected by the evangelical church charity because they're "sexually impure."
The church claims it holds "a positive view of human sexuality" — but then clarifies that "sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage." The Salvation Army doesn't believe that gays and lesbians should ever know the intimacy of any loving relationship, instead teaching that "Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life."
On its website, the group claims that "the services of The Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation." While the words are nice, the charity's actions speak volumes. It blatantly ignores the position statement and denies LGBT people services unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships, or, in some cases, attend services "open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army's doctrine and discipline." In other words, if you're gay or lesbian, you don't qualify.
The organization also has a record of actively lobbying governments worldwide for anti-gay policies — including an attempt to make consensual gay sex illegal. (Yes, you're paying lobbyists with those purchases or donations.) As the holidays approach, the Salvation Army bell ringers are out in front of stores dunning shoppers for donations. If you care about gay rights, you'll skip their bucket in favor of a charity that doesn't actively discriminate against the LGBT community.
Rob Petitpas, Oakland
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