The allegations of Patti Davis, daughter of former President Ronald Reagan, that the Salvation Army replaced her with another speaker for one of its events because she supports stem cell research is “an unfounded assumption,” said The Salvation Army in a statement, which clarified it took no position on the issue.
Davis sued the Army after it cancelled her speech, booked by Greater Talent Network, planned for a Salvation Army event in Santa Rosa, Ca., on Nov. 19.
Her lawyer, Lawrence Fabian, said when the ministry told the booking agent they decided not to use Davis as a speaker, it added that it would not pay the $15,000 speaking fee nor the $7,500 cancellation fee called for by the contract.
She is suing for compensatory damages of at least $7,500 and punitive damages up to three times the compensatory damages.
A contract was never signed, reported the Army in a statement.
Michael Watters, attorney representing the Salvation Army, said the lawsuit was "totally without merit” since the decision to reject Davis was not based on her position on stem cell research but on her performance as a speaker.
"She sent a promo or demo and they decided it was not their cup of tea,” Watters said. “They look for upbeat speakers."
The statement issued on the Salvation Army USA’s Web site also refutes the allegations and informs the public of Salvation Army’s neutrality on the issue.
“The mission of The Salvation Army is to serve suffering humanity. As an organization we care deeply for the many, many thousands of people who have illnesses that impair their ability to live normal lives. Many of them are our clients, volunteers, employees and Salvation Army officers. Every day, The Salvation Army in this country and around the world reaches out in love and compassion to hurting people and we look forward to the day when cures for many diseases are found,” read the statement.
”While there continues to be public debate over stem-cell research, The Salvation Army has chosen to remain politically neutral on this topic. There is no organizational position or policy placing The Salvation Army in direct opposition to stem cell research,” continued the statement.
However, the Army said it did "take a very strong position about serving people," and "will continue to reach out to the millions of lonely and forgotten people we serve every day without discrimination.”