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Words Fail

Jim Burroway

March 14th, 2011

As natural disasters go, this is big. We’ve become so used to hearing about tens of thousands people being wiped out by monsoonal flooding in Bangladesh that it doesn’t even make the news anymore. The humbling thing about this disaster is that it shows that we are all vulnerable, whoever and wherever we are.

The American Red Cross has set up a special designation for disaster relief efforts in Japan. To donate, click here, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to instantly donate $10.

Huffington Post has also put together a pretty good list of organizations involved in disaster relief right now:

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is sending two three-person teams to the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in Japan. To learn more about the organization’s efforts or make a donation, visit Doctorswithoutborders.org.

Other relief organizations are also sending representatives to disaster sites, including AmeriCare and Shelterbox.

MercyCorps is gathering donations for its overseas partner, Peace Winds Japan, which currently has personnel on the ground distributing emergency relief in Japan.

Along with an appeal for monetary donations, Operation USA has also announced efforts to collect bulk corporate donations of health care supplies. If you are interested in donating bulk medical items, visit OpUSA.org.

For any who have loved ones abroad, Google has stepped up to help. Along with a tsunami alert posted on its front page, Google has launched the Person Finder: 2011 Japan Earthquake to help connect people that may have been displaced due to the disaster. Google has also launched a crisis response page filled with local resources and emergency information.

They could all use your help.

Comments

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TampaZeke
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

PLEASE don’t donate to the Salvation Army. They have YET to account for hundreds of millions of dollars donated to them after 9/11; not to mention that they are rabidly anti-gay. Make your donations to the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders or other honest, legitimate and JUST organizations. I personally donated to the Red Cross.

Steve
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

I agree with Zeke. The Salvation Army is anti gay, so I never donate anything to them. I ignore their holiday collection pots, and if I have used items, I donate them elsewhere.

esurience
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

Remember that Christian charities are called Christian for a reason.

They put their Christian doctrines ahead in importance of actually caring for people. They’re a very poor choice to donate to.

Zach
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

I agree with the other commenters: the Salvation Army should never appear on a gay blog as a worthy recipient of our charity dollars.

Jim Burroway
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

All of you are so right. My apologies for my careless cut-and-paste. I’ve stricken the Salvation Army from the post.

Regan DuCasse
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

Over on Andrew Sullivan’s site, there is a 6 minute clip of the tsunami’s effect at street level. I kept wondering when the brave soul with the vid camera would MOVE and hopefully not get swept away.

The water starts out as a rush of water that seems to only be about two feet high, with some cars floating in the swale.
But then the water rises and rises, then trucks and boats are being carried fast through what is a city intersection. The noise is amazing, a sound like the ocean, while you’re watching a huge river thunder on…
then…whole buildings are moving, colliding into each other as they are pushed from their moorings by a now twenty foot high WALL of water.
Towards the last…there are people. Terrified people, riding atop a roof…with the violent tide of water and heavy debris all around them.

I’ve had to see some pretty awful things in the course of my work. But such a path of destruction from water in real time made me gasp and want to weep. You’re not seeing BODIES floating in that water, but you know they have to be there.

A large part of Japan drowned, much like parts of the Gulf states during the hurricanes.
The magnitude is hard to get your mind around…

The only thing that brings some sense of what good might come of this, is the outpouring of commitment to bring comfort to the suffering.

TampaZeke
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

Thank you Jim!

Regan, I saw it yesterday and I’m still having anxiety attacks! I’ve NEVER seen anything like it. Entire blocks of buildings being uprooted and swept away before the eyes of unbelieving onlookers.

The people of Japan will need all the help they can get for many years to come.

Much metta to them all.

Timothy Kincaid
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

Remember that Christian charities are called Christian for a reason.

They put their Christian doctrines ahead in importance of actually caring for people. They’re a very poor choice to donate to.

Actually, they are called Christian because there once was a time when charity and helping the less fortunate was considered “a Christian thing to do.” Yes, it really was. Amazing, huh?

It was also a method of evangelizing. Christians could identify their contributions as such and therefore let the less fortunate know that Christians care for them are are good people (and wouldn’t you like to join them?)

But, sadly, the theocrats, hypocrites and moralists have so sullied the identity and expectation of “Christian” that few see any good in the term “a Christian thing to do”, and those who identify as such have become accustomed to thinking less in terms of “what should I do for others as a Christian” and more in the terms of “as a Christian, what should I compel others to do.”

Christian charity groups have also changed their thinking. Once a means of either caring for their own or for the poor and downtrodden, now they often serve as either de facto governmental units or tools of political influence.

Catholic Charities is an example of an organization that has become in many respects a governmental subcontractor. They do good works, but partly at the taxpayer’s expense. And while that in and of itself may not be a problem, it can become one when they insist on administering tax-funded programs according to their religious values (as we recall from DC’s adoption conflict).

However, they also get a lot of money from contributors, virtually all of them Catholics, who – in theory – support the doctrines of the church. I don’t have much complaint about what they do with that money.

The Salvation Army is unique thing. It is actually a denomination (like Southern Baptist or United Methodist) and has regular churches, but is better known as a charity. They literally are a church, but most of their funds come from those who do not associate with their denomination, and who would not ever contribute anything to advance this church’s views.

The money they receive for charity is supposedly kept separate. And probably is. However, Salvation Army has used its reputation to wield political influence, including anti-gay political activism.

It’s also wacky as can be and some of the local churches have taken some bizarre positions. For example, in Calgary this year they decided that any toys donated which have a Harry Potter theme promote witchcraft and are evil and refused to distribute them.

Although they really do a lot of good work, I discourage contributing to them as they also do a fair amount of political bad work. I also recommend telling their collection folk exactly why I won’t give to them. (I recently told a guy collecting for Teen Challenge, or one of the youth help groups, outside the grocery store that as his group was homophobic and sought to harm my life, I could not possibly give him money.)

Some Christian charities have taken a different stance. These are the ones that target fund-raising from a religious donor base and spend it on actual charitable work. Most denominations have them and they are generally funded by the members of that denomination and spend their efforts doing real charity. We hear less about them.

And to be fair, even the ones who hit the news because of their desire to discriminate against me with my money, really spend the vast bulk of their time, effort, and money in helping those in need. Even the wacky ones.

MattNYC
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

If you’d like to “bundle” your donations in a show of LGBT compassion, you can donate via Rainbow World Fund (which sends bundled funds to CARE–a well-regarded, “A+” rated relief provider):

http://www.rainbowfund.org/donate

I donate monthly towards their efforts around the globe.

MattNYC
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

P.S. Not to diminish the scale of the tragedy in Japan, but please remember that Japan is not a poor country. This is obviously a major disaster, but Japan has a highly-organized government, money, and a culture that can help “process” in the aftermath of a mass tragedy. I’d encourage everyone to make an additional contribution towards Haiti’s recovery on top of or in lieu of a donation to Japan efforts. They were already dropping off the radar BEFORE this disaster.

Strictly my personal opinion.

Richard Rush
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

Does anyone remember several years ago when one of the main divisions of Salvation Army went rogue, and announced they would offer spousal benefits to gay partners. We immediately sent them a donation, and then immediately after that, the rogue division got smacked down by S.A. national headquarters. And then immediately after the smack-down We demanded our money back, which they gave us. We told them why.

We still take no-longer-wanted household/personal goods to the local S.A. store, but only because we feel it’s better than just throwing them in the trash.

MattNYC
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

Richard–I only donate goods to/buy goods from Goodwill. I try not to even walk by a S.A. store ;)

I cannot believe there isn’t a Goodwill Industries near you. Here in NYC, we also have the option of Housing Works–an organization supporting those affected by AIDS. If you’re in a major Metro area, you should look for these kinds of opportunities. Also, Habitat for Humanity has begun opening stores/donation centers for household goods, building materials, etc.

Richard Rush
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

MattNYC,

I checked on the places you mentioned. We are in a major east coast city, but there are no Housing Works or Habitat for Humanity facilities. However, we do have Goodwill places, but they are not nearly as conveniently located as S.A., which is only a 15-20 minute walk from our house. And it’s not as if we are giving them stuff with much value. There is another place that takes furniture, and they come to pick it up. Thanks for the info.

Rob in San Diego
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

You can donate to the Rainbow World Fund at http://www.rainbowfund.org which is a LGBT organization that deals with this. I started donating with them back at the 2004 asian pacific tsunami.

Do not donate to the Salvation Army or any of the other ones who discriminate against us.

MattNYC
March 14th, 2011 | LINK

Rob, see above :)

We’re on the same wavelength–I believe that may have been the exact same event that spurred me to start giving to RWF.

Reed Boyer
March 15th, 2011 | LINK

Salvation Army, feh! (and thanks for removing them). Also not too hot on the Red Cross, which has been known to divert “excess funds,” and still has a “no gay blood donations” policy.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is often “first to arrive, last to leave.” One hundred percent of donations go directly to AID – nothing is spent on admin costs (those are covered by donations from the UMC churches). No evangelizing, no opportunistic “conversion” strings attached. Just relief.

Their website page for donations specifically for the Japan/Pacific disaster:

http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations/umcor/donate.cfm?code=3021317

Timothy Kincaid
March 15th, 2011 | LINK

Reed,

FYI, while the Red Cross does not accept blood donations from gay men, that is not their policy. It’s set by the Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability.

For the past several years, the Red Cross has testified in favor of lifting or revising the gay ban.

Wyzdyx
March 15th, 2011 | LINK

I don’t donate to the Red Cross on humanitarian grounds. I know more than one family that received their assistance to get a soldier home in an emergency, only to receive a bill after the fact. They never said anything upfront about charging for their help.

Timothy (TRiG)
March 15th, 2011 | LINK

I won’t be donating to Japan, Haiti, or anywhere else. I give to the general organisations (MSF, Concern, and a couple of others) and let their experts on the ground decide where the money can best be spent. There are plenty of ongoing tragedies out of the headlines.

But this one is terrifying. I can’t get the figure of 10,000 people out of my head.

TRiG.

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