(CNN)Salvation Army bell ringers, the folks you see jingling bells by red kettles at Christmastime, will be carrying a new prop this year: A card explaining the Christian church and charity’s approach to LGBTQ people.
But to some in the LGBTQ community, the Salvation Army has another reputation. For decades, they’ve accused Salvationsts of denying some services to same-sex couples, advocating against gay rights and adhering to a traditional theology that considers gay sex sinful. At times, LGBTQ activists have dropped fake dollar bills or vouchers protesting the Salvation Army in the red kettles.
“The Salvation Army has been advertising that it will help LGBTQ people in need, which is a good step, but it can’t be the only step,” said Ross Murray a director of education and training at GLAAD.
“The Salvation Army’s anti-LGBTQ history was multi-faceted. And its path to LGBTQ acceptance is also going to have to be multi-faceted.”
Designed to help bell ringers answer questions from passersby, the cards include a link to online testimonials from LGBTQ people helped by the Salvation Army’s array of social services, from homeless shelters to rehab clinics and food pantries.
“For years, Facebook posts, forwarded emails and rumors have been leading some people to believe the Salvation Army does not serve members of the LGBTQ community,” the cards read. “These accusations are simply not true.”