|Salvation Army logo (Wikipedia)|
The first charity most people think of in a situation like this is the Salvation Army, and I was no different. However, being a conscientious donor, I wanted to make sure that my unwanted clothing would be going to a charity whose ideology closely matched mine. Boy, was I disappointed.
I consider myself center-left when it comes to politics (I can hear my entire family laughing right now as they compare me to some pinko commie). So when I saw the following quote on abortion I was taken aback:
The Salvation Army deplores society's ready acceptance of abortion, which reflects insufficient concern for vulnerable persons, including the unborn. (Psalms 82:3-4)But hey, abortion is one of those things that is very divisive (as the Salvation Army's use of "deplore" indicates) and later in the position statement the SA says that even if someone had obtained an abortion they're not going to shun them and treat them like some pariah. So maybe I could look past this. Maybe.
Then I see a section labeled "Homosexuality." Not gay marriage, not equal rights for gays, but simply the state of being a homosexual. Now while I may be able to look past someone's anti-choice views, I simply will not yield when it comes to equal rights for all persons–gay or straight.
The second paragraph in the mission statement starts out benignly enough:
Sexual attraction to the same sex is a matter of profound complexity. Whatever the causes may be, attempts to deny its reality or to marginalize those of a same-sex orientation have not been helpful. The Salvation Army does not consider same-sex orientation blameworthy in itself. Homosexual conduct, like heterosexual conduct, requires individual responsibility and must be guided by the light of scriptural teaching.Wow, I thought, a relatively enlightened view from an organization clearly so guided by religious doctrine. But then the next paragraph hit me:
Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage.So, according to the Salvation Army, it's quite alright to be gay, but you can't actually physically express it or marry. I don't know what's worse: a group vehemently opposed to homosexuality or a group that tries to toe a middle line while trying to claim some non-existent moral high ground.
The next position statement is titled "Human Equality," which already is starting off on a hypocritical foot. In it, the Salvation Army states:
All Salvation Army social welfare services are provided on a non-discriminatory basis; such services shall be equally available to all persons on the basis of need and capacity to benefit from the service.Yet in 2001 the organization lobbied the Bush Administration for an exemption from anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation. Their anti-gay stance was enough for me to avoid their incessant bell-ringers; their two-faced hypocrisy pushed me to write this post.
So what can you, as a person who embraces liberty and equality, do? One, obviously, is to avoid the Salvation Army at all costs. Don't shop at their stores, don't give to their charities. Tell your friends and family to do the same.
Secondly, seek out a more equality-friendly charity. I've found that Goodwill has no religious affiliation and are well represented in the New York/New Jersey area. If there's no Goodwill near you, here is a list of either non-religious charities or charities that cater to certain non-religious issues.
If the convenience of simply dropping your change is a game-breaker, just keep your change and deposit it into a Coinstar machine. When done you can choose to donate to a non-profit like the Red Cross or UNICEF.
In other words, the Salvation Army is not the only charity out there. There are plenty of organizations unwilling to discriminate who are more deserving of your donations. Make sure your charity reaches all needy persons equally, regardless of immutable characteristics like sexuality.