“Did you sign up to ring the bell?” a good-hearted friend asked.
She realized even before I voiced my answer that I had not volunteered to ring the bell outside our local supermarket to raise money for the Salvation Army.
Many, many good people — my friends and neighbors — ring the bell for the Salvation Army during December.
And many, many good people — my friends and neighbors — donate to the Salvation Army’s red kettles during December.
But I do not. I do not ring the bell for the Salvation Army. I do not donate to the Salvation Army, because the Salvation Army discriminates against gays and lesbians in employment, works to defeat civil rights measures that protect gays and lesbians and promotes position that gay relationships “do not conform to God’s will for society.”
Some will say, but the Salvation Army performs good work — the organization feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, clothes the impoverished, whether gay or straight.
Yes, yet there are many other organizations performing the same work as the Salvation Army that do not discriminate against gays and lesbians, that will not use your donation against you.
From the Salvation Army’s Web site: “The Army regards the origins of a homosexual orientation as a mystery and does not regard a homosexual disposition as blameworthy in and of itself or rectifiable at will. Nevertheless, while we are not responsible for what we are, we are accountable for what we do; and homosexual conduct, like heterosexual conduct, is controllable and may be morally evaluated therefore in light of scriptural teaching.
“For this reason, such practices, if unrenounced, render a person ineligible for Salvation Army soldiership.”
I can find a charity more worthy of the stray dollar in my pocket.
I’ll tell you that I used to contribute to the Salvation Army, though I was never enthusiastic about the organization’s missionary work.
But even before the big feud between the Salvation Army and the city of San Francisco over an ordinance mandating that city contractors provide equal benefits to employees, I was made aware that the organization with a reputation for kindness did not take kindly to gays.
I was living in Missouri in the early 1990s and a women’s volleyball league was playing its games at a Salvation Army gym. One Sunday night, players arrived and found the gym locked up and dark. Salvation Army officials had been made aware that the league was affiliated with an LGBT sports association. They decided to serve the sporty servers a “get out” notice because the Army’s position is that the “sexual union leading to a one-flesh relationship is intended to be between male and female.”
Maybe, at first thought, barring 30 women from playing volleyball seems small when compared to the Salvation Army served 33 million people last year and raised about $2 billion for its programs.
But think about those numbers, think about the power of the Salvation Army. It is a massive Christian evangelical organization — with a quasi-military structure and raising $2 billion a year — and it promotes discrimination against gays and lesbians in its employment policy; at local levels of government, going so far as to threaten to close soup kitchens in New York if the city enacted domestic partnership legislation; and at the national level of government, including negotiating with the Bush administration to guarantee that faith-based groups could discriminate against gays and keep their federal funding.
We can find charities more deserving of our dollars and our volunteer time.
Before you drop change in one of those red buckets, think twice. There are other charities to give to that don't discriminate.