Consider passing up the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday! I hope you didn’t kill your family before the holiday weekend was over enjoyed visiting family and catching up on their lives. Thanksgiving is truly about re-connecting with family and the importance of family.

Now that the country has officially kicked off the holiday season, many of you will be scouting which organizations are worthy of giving your money to. There are thousands upon thousands of groups out there who are committed to helping the less fortunate not only during the holiday season, but throughout the entire year. Thousands of organizations have openly embraced volunteers and unconditionally offered help and hope to many people across the globe, without calling into question the recipient’s immigration status, national origin, sexuality and religion. And one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations, in my opinion, sadly does not fall into this category and won’t be getting a dime of my money this holiday season.

Coming up, it was embedded in me that Salvation Army was THE charity to donate to. They strategically place volunteers at big  box retailers and solicit for donations from passing shoppers with its staple Red Kettle campaign and bell ringing. They don’t hassle you as you come in and out of stores and their familiarity assures people they are donating to a good cause. So, many people feel comfortable donating to the Salvation Army because they know their money will automatically go towards a good cause.

However, the Salvation Army has some troubling positions on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, which for the past six years has forced me to donate my funds to other organizations that don’t advocate for the suppression of women’s rights and GLBTQ rights.

The organization “deplores society’s acceptance of abortion, which reflects insufficient concern for vulnerable persons, including the unborn.”

The Salvation Army holds to the Christian ideals of chastity before marriage and fidelity within the marriage relationship and, consistent with these ideals, supports measures to prevent crisis pregnancies. It is opposed to abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection or for any reason of mere convenience to avoid the responsibility for conception. Therefore, when an unwanted pregnancy occurs, The Salvation Army advises that the situation be accepted and that the pregnancy be carried to term, and offers supportive help and assistance with planning. The Salvation Army recognizes tragic and perplexing circumstances that require difficult decisions regarding a pregnancy. Such decisions should be made only after prayerful and thoughtful consideration, with appropriate involvement of the woman’s family and pastoral, medical and other counsel. A woman in these circumstances needs acceptance, love and compassion.

The statement goes on to say that they will offer “services and fellowship” and show “love and compassion” for those involved in abortions, including, I’m assuming, those wretched women who chose to “avoid the responsibility for conception” and had an abortion. Not sure any rape or incest victim would merely choose to have an abortion just to avoid “responsibility for conception.”

Furthermore, a woman doesn’t need the “prayerful and thoughtful consideration” with family or pastoral counsel to determine whether or not she should have an abortion. Women are more than capable of using their own thoughts and, if it fits them, prayer before moving forward with an abortion.

The Salvation Army holds a “positive” view on sexuality (whatever the hell that means).

Where a man and a woman love each other, sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage. However, in the Christian view, sexual intimacy is not essential to a healthy, full, and rich life. Apart from marriage, the scriptural standard is celibacy. 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. 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

Likewise, there is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for reason of his or her sexual orientation. The Salvation Army opposes any such abuse. In keeping with these convictions, the services of The Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation. The fellowship of Salvation Army worship is open to all sincere seekers of faith in Christ, and membership in The Salvation Army church body is open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.

I don’t understand what’s so complex about same-sex marriage and same-sex attraction. When two people love each other, no matter whether they are in a same-sex partnership or marriage, or a heterosexual relationship, their love and marriage should be seen as equal and real–not just some corrupt form of traditional marriages and relationships. The mere proposal of GLBTQ folks engaging in celibacy also denies them the experience of engaging in meaningful sexual activities with their partners and/or husbands and wives. Encouraging GLBTQ folks to remain celibate suppresses them–and their relationships–to a form of second-class citizenship, as if their relationships aren’t worthy of experiencing the joy of pleasing one’s partner sexually. It enforces the flawed belief that patriarchal, traditional marriages and the nuclear family model are the only standard in which they should shoot for.

In both instances, the Salvation Army not only opposes a woman’s right to an abortion and GLBTQ rights to full citizenship, but they also encourage women and GLBTQ folks to fork over their funds to keep them operating. I find it hard to reconcile an organization’s active opposition to beliefs I stand for while at the same time encouraging me to give to their campaign.

Just in case you think I’m making this up, here are a list of links to stories citing the organization’s discriminatory practices:

  • Former student sues Salvation Army for discriminating against her because she was pregnant, unwed.
  • Salvation Army would close NYC soup kitchen for homeless over GLBTQ benefits.
  • Salvation Army checks immigration status of children at Houston toy drive.
  • Complaint filed with EEOC alleges two Hispanic employees were discriminated against due to their national origin, forced to comply with English-only rule.
  • Gay Jewish man sues Salvation Army, alleging manager relentlessly harassed him about religion, sexuality.

These are just a few links I found across the web. They are enough to convince me to bypass the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign and give my money to other organizations. There are thousands of other organizations, many of them in our neighborhoods, that don’t actively discriminate against and alienate people who don’t fit into their rigid belief system and the Salvation Army isn’t one of them.

H/T to The Bilerico Project