LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) – The Salvation Army Lexington branch leader is being criticized for sharing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric during a Sunday morning church service.
Maj. Kevin Schock, who along with his wife are area coordinators for the organization, told parishioners that schools are forcing discussions on LGBTQ issues on students.
“It’s the effort that has been made to turn their children away from their families, to turn their children away from God,” Schock told congregants. “To confuse them, to manipulate them, it’s a terrible thing.”
It was part of a longer section of the sermon that also dealt with transgender youth, gender identity and critical race theory.
A Facebook live stream of the service was removed from the Lexington Salvation Army Facebook page after LEX 18 visited the organization’s main street office, seeking to speak to Schock.
“It’s incredibly disappointing, disturbing and downright discriminatory,” said Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign in Kentucky. “It’s more than disheartening, it’s truly shameful.”
Hartman pointed out that the Salvation Army claims to be inclusive. The last line of their mission statement reads, “Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination.”
When LGBTQ youth aren’t supported, it leads to higher rates of depression and suicidality, Hartman said.
“For the leader of an organization that claims to serve the most vulnerable in our community to adopt anti-LGBTQ rhetoric that is not only dangerous but can be downright deadly,” Hartman said after watching the livestream.
Late Sunday evening, Timothy Lyle, Salvation Army divisional commander for parts of Ohio and Kentucky, responded to LEX 18’s request for comment, saying he hadn’t seen the video but that they were examining it.
“If anything was said today that was offensive, I think we would say ‘I’m sorry’ if anyone was offended,” Lyle said.
If people are seriously offended within the congregation, Lyle said they will investigate.
Salvation Army beliefs are based on the Bible, Lyle said. They believe the Bible tells them that God appreciates and loves every family equally, and that every person has God’s divine imprint on them, he said.
“The Salvation Army is committed to equality and opposes discrimination, loves everyone and embraces everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. “, said Lyle. “It’s who we are and I think we have a long track record of delivering service and committing to people in that statement.”
Hartman, the head of the Equity Campaign, said the Salvation Army had a history with anti-LGBTQ statements, adding that it had worked in recent years to improve its image.
According to a 2019 CNN article, members of the LGBTQ community have for decades accused Salvation Army personnel of denying certain services to same-sex couples, advocating for gay rights and adhering to traditional theology. who considers homosexual sex a sin. They have also asked in the past for exemptions to laws designed to protect LGBTQ people, according to CNN. Salvation Army leaders told CNN at the time that they were no longer pushing for specific policies except for taxes.
“If the Salvation Army really wants to be LGBTQ-friendly, I really think they’ll have to take action, disciplinary action against Major Schock here,” Hartman said.
According to their website, the Salvation Army helps more than 25 million Americans each year overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardship.
During the sermon, Schock described discussing LGBTQ discussion at school as a “battle for the souls of our children.”
Speaking about gender identity, Schock said people at school are forced to use pronouns that students want to identify with. “When they have no idea why they don’t identify with anything else and why they can’t just be the ‘him and him’ he was made to be and why she can’t be the “she and she” that God created her to be,” Schock said.
According to Schock, students are sent to school to learn “the 3 Rs, reading, writing and [a]rhythmic.”
“They’re not here to hear how they can be other genres,” Schock said. “I don’t even know how many genres there are anymore.”