To the editor of THE EAGLE:

In response to the Dec. 18 letter from Paul Lewis regarding The Salvation Army’s stance on gay rights ("Find charity that doesn’t discriminate"), this seems to be an issue that only surfaces in the Christmas season in attempts to defame this organization. I would emphatically state that The Salvation Army does not discriminate in its programs or services to others. I can only apologize for the misguided statement made by a colleague whom I believe is from Australia.

Our issue with seeking exemption from non-discrimination laws relates to our religious practices. We are a Christian church and, of course, we have the right to stand on the separation of church and state, as is often used against the church, to prevent the government from imposing on our religious values. For our part here in Pittsfield, we serve the gay community with its needs as we do any others. We also rely on their support as often gay individuals assist us in various capacities in serving others. We don’t ask about sexual orientation. Our mission simply requires us to love others as best we can.

We stand on our history of sacrifice and service to anyone in need. I would only ask that before passing such incriminating judgment based on rumors and random articles that individuals would consider more research into this organization.

MAJ. JAMES FLETCHER

Pittsfield

The author writes for The Salvation Army Pittsfield Corps.