This is the season of the year when Salvation Army volunteers are on the streets and outside stores ringing their bells to encourage donors to fill their red kettles with money for the poor. The longtime Christian organization provides food, shelter, elderly services, disaster relief, prisoner rehabilitation and many other forms of aid.
But it also has adopted a position statement that is a step toward abortion, and pro-life leaders are expressing alarm at what they see developing.
In its statement on abortion, the Salvation Army says: “A number of biblical and theological principles underpin The Salvation Army’s position on abortion. …
“The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of human life. Humankind was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). All people – without exception – are of value to him, holding a special place in his creation (Psalm 8:5), irrespective of age, gender, race, religion, health or social status, or their potential for achievement.”
But it also states, “A serious commitment to the protection and care of the unborn calls us to a commitment to the prevention of unwanted pregnancy through means such as access to reliable birth control, safety in relationships, and societal respect of women.”
Specifically, it says the Salvation Army “believes that termination [abortion] can occur only when carrying the pregnancy further seriously threatens the life of the mother; or reliable diagnostic procedures have identified a foetal abnormality considered incompatible with survival for more than a very brief post natal period.”
And it continues, “In addition, rape and incest are brutal acts of dominance violating women physically and emotionally. This situation represents a special case for the consideration of termination as the violation may be compounded by the continuation of the pregnancy.”
Christian human rights activist Rebecca Kiessling, an attorney, speaker and author who defends rape victims and was conceived during the rape of her mother, was surprised.
“This [abortion] statement is one of the most disheartening things I’ve seen,” she told WND.
She donates to Salvation Army and, as a mother of five, frequently shops at Salvation Army Thrift Stores.
“They are clearly trying to set forth a biblical standard. They say that God defends the weak and those who are marginalized and that He is a God of justice, but the Salvation Army has now marginalized children like me who were conceived in rape. In other words, they support the death penalty for innocents like me who were conceived out of violence. Yet the Bible says that a child should not be punished for the crimes of [his or her] father,” said Kiessling.
“The Salvation Army is all about rescuing treasures and trading beauty for ashes with the used clothes and household items people donate to them, but they can’t seem to do the same for rape victims and their children,” Kiessling said.
Salvation Army Commissioner M. Christine MacMillan was contacted by WND and asked to respond to three questions: (1) Does the Salvation Army fund abortions in any way? (2) Does it lead women to abortionists in any way? (3) Why does it cite and link to the Guttmacher Institute, which is affiliated with the abortion chain Planned Parenthood?
She declined to answer, saying instead she might call back. She didn’t.
Leticia Velasquez, a mother of three, including one child with Down syndrome, is an author and founder of Keep Infants with Down Syndrome or KIDS. She said, “The Salvation Army should re-consider their position on this critical issue, as it is not consistent with a pro-life stance.
“An abnormal prenatal diagnosis does not lower the God-given dignity of a baby. We believe that all human life is sacred from conception until natural death. If a baby is destined to live only within her mother’s womb for a few brief moments or days afterward, then we must give that child the full span of life and not end her life by abortion.”
Likewise, Stephen Phelan of Human Life International told WND, “The ‘International Position Statement on Abortion’ from the Salvation Army is seriously problematic, both for its interior contradictions and for the fact that it explicitly links itself with the Guttmacher Institute, which openly promotes unrestricted access to abortion around the world. Indeed, the organization is named after Alan Guttmacher, the abortionist who was a transformational president of Planned Parenthood and who was a tireless advocate for abortion.”
Alveda King, director of African American Outreach at Priests for Life, expressed similar suspicion.
“Good organizations become ‘infiltrated’ by forces that promote abortion, the breakdown of marriage, sexual immorality, etc. They come as wolves in sheep’s clothing and appear to be harmless and even helpful. Then they begin to reveal their true or basically untrue colors. This is sadly maybe what is happening to the Salvation Army. Not for sure, but maybe.”
“So much of the Salvation Army statement is commendable, but parts of it read like it was written by the Guttmacher PR department to ease the conscience of those who are not yet in support of unrestricted abortion. These contradictions are irreconcilable,” added Phelan, HLI’s communications director. “The mere appearance of support from Salvation Army can be used by the huge international abortion cartels to justify their work.”
“My first pastor was a Salvation Army officer. The Army has long been an uncompromisingly strong witness of Christian truth, but they have got it terribly wrong here,” said Rev. Rob Schenck, a minister on Capitol Hill and chairman of the Committee on Church and Society for the Evangelical Church Alliance.
Schenck and his twin brother, Paul, now a Catholic priest, were targeted by the state of New York and the Clinton administration for defending unborn babies and their mothers outside abortion clinics and other public places, including places where President Clinton appeared. In 1996, the twin brothers and all pro-life demonstrators were vindicated by the U.S. Supreme Court when eight out of nine justices ruled in favor of Schenck v. the Pro-Choice Network of Western New York.
Wendy Wright, interim executive director of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, agreed with Schenck and HLI about the Salvation Army.
She said, “The Salvation Army has an admirable history of reaching the most outcast and shunned in society, the broken and destitute, the hardest of cases. This policy treats the most shunned and broken of unborn babies, the hard cases, and shuts them outside humanity’s house. Simply put, it violates God’s commandment that ‘thou shalt not murder.’”
“Not only is their position weak and unbiblical, but it’s contrary to historic Christian moral instruction and to the good work of the Christian Holiness movement that is their heritage. This is an aberration that must be corrected immediately if the Army is to maintain its Christian integrity,” said Schenck.
Wright said the Salvation Army’s stance on abortion “denies the humanity of a child to say she can be killed because of the crime of her father. Or that deliberately taking a child’s life is somehow better than allowing God room to work, to do a miracle, and to shower that child with love for as long as possible. Following the Salvation Army’s counsel would mean that the only touch that some severely disabled babies would ever feel is not the loving arms of her mother, but the sharp blade of an abortionist.”
In the United States, the Salvation Army has been airing this Christmas appeal on national TV networks:
Considering the Salvation Army ad and its good works in urban minority neighborhoods, Day Gardner, president of the National Black Pro-Life Union, said, “I’m very disturbed if they support abortion in any way, especially because I always give money to the bell ringers I see outside stores before Christmas. I find the whole thing rather disturbing because they are doing this in the name of Jesus Christ, Who came into the world under very difficult circumstances – as a poor and homeless baby.
“I have been working with a mom, a young black woman in Chicago, who had conjoined twin boys that shared a heart. People told her she should let them die because they wouldn’t live long. Their mom is very strong in Christ, the boys lived 18 months and she said she would not have traded her time with them for anything.”
If you would like to sound off on this issue, participate in today’s WND Poll.