Amid pressure from activist fans on social media, English singer and songwriter Ellie Goulding issued a statement Tuesday demanding that one of the world’s most impactful charities, The Salvation Army, “very quickly make a solid, committed pledge or donation to the LGBTQ community” — or else she “would have no choice but to pull out” of her scheduled half-time performance at the Thanksgiving Day NFL game kicking off the charity’s “Red Kettle Campaign.” On Wednesday, the organization, which raised over $140 million for impoverished people last year, issued an update on the situation: After learning “the truth about The Salvation Army’s mission to serve all,” Goulding will be performing as scheduled on Thanksgiving.
The short-lived controversy began after Goulding posted a message on Instagram promoting her performance at half-time of the Thanksgiving Day game pitting the Dallas Cowboys against the Buffalo Bills at AT&T Stadium. She posted:
Ok so maybe hairnet not my strongest look but thank you @salvationarmyus for having us in New York,” she wrote. “As you know, I have spent a lot of time in shelters in London, and this was my first time in NYC… The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need. I sat and spoke to several people who had come in from the bitter cold for some food (they serve to over 150 per day here), warmth and perhaps a chat with one of the volunteers.
But after backlash from activist fans alleging that The Salvation Army discriminates against members of the LGBTQ community, Goulding issued her demand.
“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. “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.”
The Salvation Army did not take the allegation lying down, quickly pushing back against the claim. “With an organization of our size and history, myths can perpetuate,” a spokesperson for the organization told NBC5 Tuesday. “An individual’s sexual or gender identity, religion, or lifestyle has no bearing on our willingness to provide service. We stand firmly behind our mission to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
On Wednesday, the organization issued an update on the situation with Goulding, thanking her and the activists who made the false claim for inadvertently “shedding light on misconceptions” about them. Goulding, The Salvation Army announced, will be performing as planned now that’s she’s learned about how much they actually do for the LGBTQ community.
“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,” said Commissioner David Hudson, National Commander of the Salvation Army, as reported by Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hudson shared:
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. Every day, we provide services such as shelter for the transgender community and resources for homeless youth — 40 percent of whom identify as gay or transgender. Ellie’s performance in the 23rd annual Salvation Army Red Kettle Kickoff during the Dallas Cowboys game Thanksgiving Day on CBS will kick off a season of giving that helps support these and many other programs and services throughout the country.
Almost one-third of transgender people have been rejected from an emergency shelter. The Salvation Army created a dorm in Las Vegas to offer safety and shelter to this group, which is statistically more vulnerable to assault … LGBTQ youth contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth. With a presence in every zip code in the nation, we’re committed to providing spiritual and emotional care to those in need regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.