Election 2020

Pete Buttigieg Under Fire for Ringing Bell for 'Homophobic' Salvation Army That Helps Gay People

Twitter screenshot of Mayor Pete Buttigieg raising money for the Salvation Army.

In the latest hilarious episode of woke cancel culture, LGBT activists are angry at … the first serious openly gay presidential contender in American history. His crime? Raising money for a Christian charity that — get this — goes out of its way to help gay people! Yes, some LGBT activists have attacked Mayor Pete Buttigieg for raising money for the Salvation Army.

Out magazine first published the damning photos of Mayor Pete ringing the bell to raise money for the CANCELLED charity. Buttigieg was caught red-handed outside the South Bend, Ind., restaurant PEGGS, participating in the Red Kettle Ring-Off in 2017: a competition between South Bend and Mishawaka. New York-based actor Eric Shorey posted a photo on Twitter with a profanity-laced attack.

LGBTQ Nation piled on with an article explaining that Buttigieg raised money for the Salvation Army before 2017 as well — Oh horrors!

A 2015 article in the South Bend Tribune describes the event as a competition with the city of Mishawaka, Indiana, and it notes that Buttigieg helped the organization raise $2900 that year.

A 2017 segment on WSBT, South Bend’s CBS affiliate, shows Buttigieg ringing the bell as part of the yearly competition.

“The competition is fun, but this is really about those who are most in need,” Buttigieg said in the segment. “We’ve got a lot of folks who are facing a holiday season who are facing challenges and organizations like the Salvation Army are doing so much to help.”

Mikelle Street, senior editor at Out, noted that Mayor Pete took these damning actions in 2013, 2015, and 2017 — before and after “the homophobia was made public.”

Gay activist Zack Ford also attacked Buttigieg. “I know the photos are two years old, but still, I can’t help but wonder if Mayor Pete just looks at what LGBTQ activists have been working on for years and then chooses to spite it (e.g. Salvation Army, Chick-fil-A, queer media in general, etc.),” he tweeted.

These are far from the first attacks on the Salvation Army. LGBT activists targeted the church around the same time as the outrage over Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s remarks against same-sex marriage. Activists discovered that Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, contributed to socially conservative charities like Eagle Forum, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council (FRC), and the Salvation Army.

Amid the uproar that followed, Chick-fil-A stopped funding most of those groups. In 2012, a deranged man burst into FRC, aiming to kill everyone in the building and smear Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches in their faces. When questioned by the FBI, the terrorist cited a “hate map” published by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Chick-fil-A dropped most of the organizations, but not the Salvation Army. LGBT activists have hounded the fast-food chain ever since, forcing Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to apologize for eating there in June 2018 (LGBT Pride Month), getting airports to ban Chick-fil-A, and even getting the very first Chick-fil-A location in Britain shuttered shortly after it opened.

So why all the hatred for the Salvation Army? Out‘s Rose Dommu accused the church of having a “well-documented history of discriminating against LGBTQ+ people in need.” Yet her “evidence” for this was sorely lacking: The Salvation Army used a religious exemption to avoid offering benefits to workers with same-sex partners in San Francisco; a spokesperson said same-sex relationships go “against the will of God”; the church had links on its website directing people to ex-gay organizations; and it “circulated internal memos opposing marriage equality.”

LGBTQ Nation‘s list of Salvation Army sins is similarly scant. Yes, the church “lobbied against LGBTQ equality legislation” including “local and state laws that banned discrimination against LGBTQ people.” The church has also “claimed religious exemptions to discriminate against LGBTQ workers.”

Yes, the Salvation Army defines marriage as between one man and one woman, as does the Bible and as did 99.9 percent of Christians up until a few years ago. Yes, the church claims religious exemptions in order to avoid hiring people who live in opposition to its moral standards. But when it comes to “LGBTQ+ people in need,” the church has a stellar record of service.

“Many gay men who lived through the AIDS crisis say they don’t know what they would have done had it not been for the ‘Sally Army’ there to care for them when nurses refused,” tweeted health policy consultant Derek Dye.

His tweet linked to a 2016 interview with gay British comedian Paul O’Grady.

“When AIDS hit London, I’ll never forget the Salvation Army,” O’Grady said. “Because in the Westminster Hospital, this was a time when they had yellow tape across doors and you were expected to wear a mask and protection because they didn’t know anything about it. You frequently got nurses who wouldn’t work on AIDS wards, they’d say no. And who was there – the Salvation Army.”

“They really were amazing, seriously. So I’ve a lot of respect for the organisation,” he said.

In other words, when little was known about AIDS and even nurses refused to help those suffering from the disease, Salvation Army volunteers risked exposure — and perhaps death — to help the infected. This at a time when AIDS was stigmatized and when many believed it was a form of judgment against gay people.

The Salvation Army may believe that homosexual activity is sinful. It may refuse to hire staff who are openly LGBT. It may advocate for a traditional definition of marriage. But the church is also focused on service, and that includes sacrificial service for the very people it considers to be sinners. Because, according to Christian doctrine, Jesus Christ died for us when we were still sinners.

The Salvation Army continues to serve the LGBT community, providing homeless shelters, job training, help with substance abuse and food insecurity, and fighting suicide, to which LGBT people are tragically susceptible.

Yet LGBT activists — and even some governments! — have treated this church with nothing but contempt. In 2017, New York City’s Commission on Human Rights ran a sting operation to see how the Salvation Army would treat transgender people in homeless shelters. The church — which believes that God made humans male and female and therefore we cannot change our biological sex — placed biological men and women in sex-segregated spaces, regardless of their gender identity.

The Salvation Army provided homes for needy people, and New York City charged it with “gender identity discrimination for refusing to accept transgender patients and for discriminatory housing policies, including assigning rooms based on a patient’s gender assigned at birth rather than their gender identity, subjecting patients to physical examinations, and forcing transgender patients into separate rooms.”

This kind of hostility beggars belief.

Meanwhile, Pete Buttigieg — who said he wants a “peace deal” with Chick-fil-A — raised money for a charity that does good work, even if he disagrees with its theological views.

I vehemently disagree with Buttigieg on many issues, but I have to admit he’s a likable guy and I’d love to grab a beer with him. He has yet to address the outrage over his raising money for charity, but this issue is unlikely to hurt him politically. In fact, it may give him a chance to come across as the better man.

Mayor Pete should explain that he is glad to raise money for a charity that does good work, even if he disagrees with its views. That would be the politically savvy response to this ridiculous attack. Let’s see if Buttigieg’s social justice warrior bent will prevent him from nailing this obvious lay-up.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.