Singer Ellie Goulding is threatening to withdraw from the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day halftime performance unless the faith-based Salvation Army – the halftime show’s sponsor – makes a pledge or donation to the LGBTQ community.
Thanksgiving Day is the traditional kickoff to the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, which runs through Christmas Eve and raised $142.7 million during the 2018 campaign. The funds help provide shelter and meals for the homeless and needy, and Christmas toys for children.
The ministry has a section on its website saying it “is committed to serving the LGBTQ community” through job training, shelter, meals, help with substance abuse, and suicide prevention.
Goulding, though, wants more commitment from the Salvation Army. Her threat on Tuesday came after she posted an Instagram picture endorsing the Salvation Army and showing her volunteering in New York City. A few fans then claimed the ministry was anti-LGBTQ.
“Upon researching this, I have reached out to The Salvation Army and said that I would have no choice but to pull out unless they very quickly make a solid, committed pledge or donation to the LGBTQ community,” Goulding wrote on Instagram. “I am a committed philanthropist as you probably know, and my heart has always been in helping the homeless, but supporting an anti-LGBTQ charity is clearly not something I would ever intentionally do. Thank you for drawing my attention to this.”
LGBTQ media this week said the Salvation Army allegedly refuses to house same-sex couples unless they separate, discourages employees from speaking out for same-sex marriage and doesn’t serve transgender people.
The Salvation Army’s website, though, says it serves all people, including LGBTQ individuals.
“Any person who walks through our doors will receive assistance based on their need and our capacity to help,” the website says. “Our mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human need in His name without discrimination.”
The Salvation Army website further says, “Too often, LGBTQ Americans experience unacceptable homophobia or transphobia when seeking shelter. The Salvation Army seeks to be a welcome, safe place for all men, women, and children.”
The ministry says it does not consider the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant when hiring.
David Hudson, the national commander of the Salvation Army, told Fox News the show will go on, with Goulding performing.
“We’d like to thank Ellie Goulding and her fans for shedding light on misconceptions and encouraging others to learn the truth about The Salvation Army’s mission to serve all, without discrimination,” Hudson told Fox News. “We applaud her for taking the time to learn about the services we provide to the LGBTQ community. Regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, we’re committed to serving anyone in need.”
Founded by William and Catherine Booth in the 1800s, the Salvation Army is an “evangelical part of the universal Christian Church,” according to its mission statement. “Its message is based on the Bible.”
“Its ministry is motivated by the love of God,” the mission statement further says. “Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
Evangelist Franklin Graham is encouraging the Salvation Army and the Cowboys to stand their ground.
“Let her back out – that would’ve been my suggestion to @DallasCowboys' Jerry Jones after @EllieGoulding threatened not to perform at their Thanksgiving halftime show unless the @SalvationArmyUS would make a ‘pledge or donation to the LGBTQ community,” Graham wrote on Twitter, referencing the owner of the Cowboys. “… The Salvation Army also already assists LGBTQ people. To bully any org because they're based on Christian principles is wrong. Her demand and attempt to intimidate was activism run amuck.”
Let her back out—that would’ve been my suggestion to @DallasCowboys' Jerry Jones after @EllieGoulding threatened not to perform at their Thanksgiving halftime show unless the @SalvationArmyUS would make a "pledge or donation to the LGBTQ community." 1/2 https://t.co/zks8xZRSAM— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) November 14, 2019
.@DallasCowboys have been supporting the @SalvationArmyUS #RedKettleCampaign for 22 yrs. The Salvation Army also already assists LGBTQ people. To bully any org because they're based on Christian principles is wrong. Her demand and attempt to intimidate was activism run amuck. 2/2— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) November 14, 2019
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Tristan Fewings/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.