Atheist Group Asks Tulsa (OK) Police to Stop Promoting Salvation Army on Twitter

Just before Christmas, the Tulsa (Oklahoma) Police Department urged followers on Twitter to “throw some change in the Salvation Army bucket” and meet two high-ranking officers at a nearby Macy’s where they were ringing a bell on behalf of the organization.

The problem with this apparent act of charity is that the Salvation Army isn’t just some random group doing good work. It’s a religious group that aims to evangelize and holds doctrinal positions against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

Even if the Tulsa police were acting with the best of intentions, this shouldn’t have happened and it can’t happen again. That’s why the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s legal fellow Christopher Line sent a letter warning the department from making the mistake in the future.

The Salvation Army is not merely a charity or chain of thrift stores — it is a church denomination with an evangelistic mission. The Salvation Army describes itself as “an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church” with a “message based on the Bible” and mission to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” The Salvation Army has eleven overtly sectarian articles of Christian faith, affirming a holy trinity and the belief that Jesus is the son of god. The Salvation Army’s website includes a set of “Position Statements” on various political and social issues, all of which reference biblical scripture. The Salvation Army has also publicly taken a discriminatory stance against homosexuality throughout its history.

We think you’ll agree that law enforcement must be even-handed and avoid any appearance of bias toward citizens in its community.

FFRF is requesting that the police department take down those tweets and inform them in writing about how they plan to resolve this constitutional violation in the future.

The department hasn’t responded yet, but I imagine the people in Oklahoma will be nothing but receptive.

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