Salvation Army [Editor's note: For a vigorous debate on the Salvation Army, see the comment section of the original article]
Everyone knows the Salvation Army. Whether it’s the secondhand goods at their thrift stores or their collection kettles outside department stores, the Salvation Army is ubiquitous to the holiday season.
However, the Salvation Army’s virulent opposition to gay rights both in public and through persistent legislative lobbying raises the question how donations intended for the needy are being spent. Many people forget that the Salvation Army is in fact an Evangelical church, and as such, it tends to have a hard-right social agenda.
In fact, the Salvation Army goes so far as to say gay people shouldn’t be having sex. You can find this nugget on their website: “Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life.”
Starting at the beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency in 2001, the Salvation Army began lobbying for an exemption to equal labor practices for government-funded faith-based organizations. Why? Because the Salvation Army wanted to continue to discriminate against gays and prevent them from being hired.
In 2004, the Salvation Army threatened to close all its soup kitchens in the New York City area—which would have ended $250 million worth of contracts with the city—if they were forced to offer benefits to same-sex couples. This move would have lost the Salvation Army around $70 million in direct funding from the city and endangered the lives of several thousand people reliant on the Salvation Army.
Was this supposed to be a principled stand? All the homeless people receiving care from the Salvation Army would be turned out on the street. What would have motivated The Salvation Army to make such a callous move? They said that, by offering benefits to same sex couples, they’d be supporting HIV/AIDS because HIV/AIDS is only the product of homosexual intercourse.
AIDS? How does AIDS factor in? Oh yeah, I forgot! Gay people don’t suffer from non-gay sex related maladies. If a same sex couple needs health benefits, it must be from all that AIDS they’re spreading around. Is there any way to construe this as anything but bigotry?
There’s still more, too. The Salvation Army has repeatedly rallied against anti-discrimination laws involving hiring of homosexual employees. They’ve even tried to block a repeal of sodomy laws in New Zealand. And in Canada a few days ago, the Salvation Army turned down donations of Harry Potter and Twilight toys. The occult connotations of these toys, supposedly, is out of line with their Christian teachings. Harry Potter is Satanic? That’s a rather old-hat Evangelical argument, isn’t it?
Is this the kind of charity you want to be donating to? More importantly, is this a charity that should be receiving government funding? Sure, the Salvation Army does some noble things. Using charity money and government funding to further an anti-gay, Evangelical agenda is not one of them.
The Salvation Army’s tremendous size and omnipresence may provide the illusion of moral rectitude. Sadly, that just isn’t the case. There are plenty of wonderful charities out there without hidden political agendas worth donating to instead of the Salvation Army. Check out websites such as Charity Navigator to look for charitable organizations that will spend your money on the causes they support, not political muckery.