Monday, November 22, 2010

Why I Won't Be Donating to Salvation Army This Year, or Any Year for That Matter

Salvation Army logo (Wikipedia)
Most folks who know me know that I am not a very fashion-forward individual; I recently traded my baggy jeans, t-shirts and sweatshirt look for a slightly less-baggy jeans, polo/button-down and sweater style. This left me with a lot of clothes that I no longer wanted and I rounded them all up and looked to donate them.

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.


  1. Kane,

    Good post and I respect that you actually research these organizations before donating. If everyone did more research, then we would all be better off and, probably, much more agreeable to one another.

    I have one bone to pick with your analysis, however.

    "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."

    I will say that their description here is that Christians (ie. those professing Christ) are called to be celibate if they are homosexuals. It does not differentiate anyone other than believers (ie. Atheists, Muslims, Non-believers). I'd use this metric when analyzing their posturing against gays. If you are gay and not a follower of Jesus, then you can do that which you choose. If you are a follower of Jesus, then there is a doctrine to follow.

    We could probably have a very enlightened philosophical conversation regarding welfare/charities and a certain level of reciprocity expected of the poor (ie. the parable on teaching a man to fish), but that is truly beyond the scope of this blog and can be reserved for another time.


    P.S. I used (ie.) more than was necessary.

  2. I think you've done the right thing. My values aren't yours, but I wish everyone, especially Christians, paid as close attention to the mission statement and goals of organizations to which they donate that you do.

    SA probably also expects married men and women to abstain from having sex with people to whom they are not married. For some, this is an outrageous, hurtful idea--like celibacy. But, that is indeed what Scripture says. SA should be allowed to have that standard for its employees.

  3. I have been boycotting the Salvation Army's Christmas kettles (and not donating to their stores) for almost a decade since their West Coast division made it clear that they would not provide domestic partnership coverage for health care for their employees.
    At that time, there was a move afoot to flood their donations with "pink dollars" as a protest.
    Perhaps it's time to fire up the printers and break out the pink once more.

  4. This just in: Blogger finds Salvation Army found to be Christian organization, realizes implications after they're spelled out word for word.

    Nice job there, Columbo. You should take this bombshell to WikiLeaks!

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