Monday, February 20, 2017
Last updated: 1 year ago

Why we declined to run an advertisement from the Salvation Army: an open letter

Photo Tojosan/flickr

To whom it may concern:

After considerable staff discussion and a vote by the editorial board, The Ubyssey has opted to decline to run an advertisement from the Salvation Army, slated for the Oct. 25 print edition.

The editorial board had grave concerns about both the content and source of the advertisement and thus cannot, in good conscience, accept it for publication.

In a unanimous vote, the editorial board decided that we are uncomfortable running an ad from an organization like the Salvation Army. In the past 10 years, branches of the Salvation Army have petitioned all levels of government for policies that deny equal rights to LGBTQ people. In 2004, the Salvation Army threatened to leave New York City entirely because of an ordinance that required groups with contracts from the city to “offer benefits to gay employees’ partners,” according to the New York Times. Their current position statement on homosexuality “calls for chastity outside of heterosexual marriage.” While the Canadian branch has been less vocal on this front, we believe the organization as a whole ultimately dehumanizes a group of people on the basis of their sexuality.

Like many other student newspapers in Canada, The Ubyssey has a longstanding ad boycott policy that allows the editorial board to refuse ads that are “overtly sexist, racist or homophobic.” As an editorial board, we can decline advertisements not only because of offending ad copy or artwork, but because we disagree with the source of the ad.

The Ubyssey also maintains a policy against running advertisements from either side of the abortion debate. In our experience, ads that are either “pro-choice” or “pro-life” do little to advance civil debate on the issue. The following paragraph, which appears in the advertisement in the shape of a hypodermic needle, is a clear violation of that policy:

“Before you know it, I’m a 24-year-old prostitute trying to support a crack habit. Then it happened. I found out I was having a baby. I wanted an abortion but I got thrown in jail before I could do it. That gave me time to think. When I got out, I knew what I had to do. So I started a support program to help me find what I’d been missing most. My self-esteem. Today I’m three years clean and have a beautiful baby girl. That’s the war on drugs Salvation Army helped me win.”

We understand that the Salvation Army provides vital social services like soup kitchens, shelters and thrift shops in many communities. But it also endorses and actively lobbies for social policies that shame people for who they are. It is on these grounds that we must decline this advertisement.


The Ubyssey
editorial board

  • Ryan


  • Mateo Landberg

    I agree dat we shud hab a civil debate bout abortion but eva1 wud c October Baby, maybe den dey wud change dem minds.

  • ubcstudent


  • Carven Li

    It’s precisely that “Salvation Army provides vital social services like soup kitchens, shelters and thrift shops in many communities” that I oppose being a patron of Salvation Army. Queer people are thrown out of their programs. Google it.

    My aunt is a missionary with Salvation Army. In my opinion, she does a lot of good work in Hong Kong, none of which I know to be homophobic.
    Considering at least the American and the Australian Salvation Army are politically active homophobic organizations, and considering it’s only intuitive that there is intra-branch support, however, I cannot bear to see the Canadian Salvation Army do well when there are other non-profits that can and that do bid to work with various governments to address homelessness, poverty and hunger.

    Thank you for igniting me on this issue. It’s been something I needed to put more thought into and this piece just did it. Thanks for being inspirational and thanks for not running Sallie May ads.

  • S

    Thank you.

  • M

    I totally agree. That same ad is now in the mens washroom in the SUB. I would have thought (UBC/AMS?) would have made the same choice you have.