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No, the gay community is not boycotting the Salvation Army

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2011

Unlike, say, the Southern Baptist Convention, the widely diverse group of people who fall under the general category of “the gay community” do not have an official spokesman. And, fine as Bil Browing (editor of Bilerico) is, and as committed to our community as he is, he doesn’t speak for anyone but himself – as, indeed, is the true for all of us bloggers.

But to some in the news, a whiff of disagreement between a gay person and a religious group is a news story and so off they have run.

MSNBC: Gay groups boycott Salvation Army red kettle drive
Christian Post: LGBT Groups Boycott Salvation Army’s Red Kettles
And USA Today: Gays, lesbians call for Salvation Army boycott, really gets it wrong:

The gay and lesbian community is calling for a boycott of The Salvation Army and its annual holiday red kettle drive because of the organization’s stance on gay and lesbian relationships, Christian Today, MSNBC and other news organizations are reporting.

Let me first address the facts, the hype, and the conflict.

The facts:

The Salvation Army is a church. It’s a denomination, just like the United Methodist Church or the Assemblies of God. But, unlike those denominations, the Salvation Army is best known for its charity.

And, indeed, the Salvation Army has been focused on the less fortunate since its start in the 19th Century. William Booth’s intention to bring the gospel message to the poor including “alcoholics and prostitutes” was not only a challenge to class and status but a genuine care for the physical needs of those to whom he preached.

The three ‘S’s’ best expressed the way in which the Army administered to the ‘down and outs': first, soup; second, soap; and finally, salvation.

Personally, I find that a church which focuses first on caring for physical necessities and then on social integration and finally on religious conversion has their priorities in order. I would go so far as to say that a good many churches could take a lesson from the Salvation Army.

But, paradoxically, the Salvation Army’s prioritizing has led to criticism by some. As so few churches do place care for the unwealthy unsaved and unloved as their fifth, sixth or eighteenth priority, it comes as a surprise to some that those people calling themselves the Salvation Army are actually a church. But, but, but churches don’t act like that; only non-religious non-profit organizations – or the government – help those in need!

The hype:

And upon finding out that the Salvation Army is a church, many assumed that therefor it must be a right-wing extremist anti-gay church. After all, it’s sneaky: pretending to be a charity like that! And when the Salvation Army responded to questions with theological positions which were not those of, say, the United Church of Christ, such fears were confirmed.

Making matters worse, in 2001 when George W. Bush proposed funding faith-based charities, the Salvation Army requested that the Bush Administration exempt religious charities that receive federal money from local laws that bar anti-gay discrimination. Their concern was based in fear that they would be required to provide domestic partner benefits to their gay employees, something they felt contradicted their religious teaching. Bush ultimately said, “no”.

And thus was created the public image of the Salvation Army as being virulently homophobic. Google “Salvation Army homophobic” and you’ll get over 60,000 responses.

And, as he has in times past, Bil Browning has written to advise his readers to find a better choice for their charity dollars than the Salvation Army.

And the Chicago marxist organization masquerading as a gay group, Gay Liberation Network, has jumped in to and emailed news organizations that they “support the boycott”, thus providing the press with both “an LGBT group” and the b-word.

The conflict.

The Salvation Army is not homophobic. But it has somewhat conservative theology on the matter and has behaved carelessly, if not callously, towards the gay community.

The Church’s theology falls within mainstream Christianity and its teaching on homosexuality is not divergent from that general realm. They do not, as do many conservative evangelical churches, deny sexual orientation or champion ex-gay ministries or even deny membership or positions of leadership to gay people. But, consistent with a significant portion of mainstream Christianity, they believe that gay people should live celibate lives:

The Salvation Army holds a positive view of human sexuality. 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.

Not an embracing position, but not exactly hateful either. And, other than their efforts to protect their own self-interest, the Salvation Army has not been much of a player or – with a few exceptions – actively campaigned against civil equalities or inclusion in the fabric of society. On the scale from SBC to UCC, they are closer to the middle.

And now my recommendation:

People are in need. This economy sucks. If you are able, please give to those who have less than you. However, in giving you have a responsibility. And you have choices.

Bil Browning reports that the Salvation Army discriminates in the providing of services:

I’ve seen the discrimination the Salvation Army preaches first hand. When a former boyfriend and I were homeless, the Salvation Army insisted we break up before they’d offer assistance. We slept on the street instead and declined to break up as they demanded.

Bill’s situation may have been a local policy or it may have been revised since that time, but currently the church has as policy that sexual orientation is not considered in its provision of services. And the church reportedly does not discriminate in the hiring of bell ringers (though its permanent gay employees do not get partner benefits).

However, ultimately, this is a church. And while it invites you to give to help support its charity efforts, once the soup and the soap have been distributed, it will seek to fulfill the third “S”, the one in its name. The charitable efforts of the Salvation Army were never intended to be secular, but rather the distribution of care from Christians to those in need.

So if you do not support the reason they have an S on their crest, “Salvation from sin through Jesus”, or if you believe that their theological teachings are incompatible with your own beliefs, the Salvation Army should not be your first choice for caring for the essential needs of those suffering most in this economy. Perhaps your local Episcopal Church or Lutheran Church has a soup kitchen (many mainline churches have established programs which – while not on the scale of the Salvation Army – do reach their local community). Or perhaps a secular organization is a better fit for you.

But we are not “boycotting”. Generally, boycotts are ineffective and end up with embarrassment in the media. So, while our community does on rare occasion rally together and make a universally accepted purchasing decision (which seems to happen spontaneously), when the gay community boycotts you, you will know it.

Though we are not boycotting, I echo Bil’s call:

Instead of donating to the Salvation Army, choose a different charity that will help everyone without prejudice. Find a local secular charity [or pro-gay religious charity] – or here are some national organizations that provide help to anyone who needs it:

Goodwill (disabled and unemployed)
The Red Cross (medical and emergency relief)
Doctors Without Borders (medical and emergency relief)
Habitat for Humanity (homelessness and housing)

But I add this caveat. Some of you may find that you are less propelled to click the above links, make a pledge, pull out a credit card or send a check. Best of intentions aside, you know you aren’t going to give.

Others might not be able to give much and feel embarrassed to attach their name online to a gift of only give a few dollars. Don’t be. They are delighted to get your two dollars and will put them to good use.

But if you can’t overcome your embarrassment or motivate yourself to make a more socially responsible selection, don’t choose to simply not give. Don’t let someone do without this holiday season because Bil or I have criticism of the Salvation Army. So while we both encourage another choice, if reality says that its the Salvation Army or nothing at all, then drop something into their red buckets.

Because this isn’t about “boycotting”. It isn’t about “punishing the Salvation Army” or demanding that they change their theology. It’s about helping the poor and doing so in the most responsible way we can.

Comments

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Rob in San Diego
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

I’ve boycotted them for several years now. It ticks me off everytime I see one set up in my hometown gay community of Hillcrest here in San Diego. I’ve actually wanted to set up my own kettle next to them here to go to our local gay community like Mama’s Kitchen.

Stephen
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Actually yes we ARE boycotting the Salvation Army. There are plenty of needy charities out there. I give to many charities on a regular basis and specifically avoid the Salvation Army. Do not support hate groups. I am really shocked to see an article like this on this website.

Jim Burroway
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Count me as one who is boycotting the Salvation Army.

The problem I have is this. Yes, the Salvation Army does great work. It is among the “workingest” denominations in all of Christendom.

But is is a denomination. And I would no more donate to that denomination than I would to any other that considered me a sinner because of who I love.

I don’t donate to the Catholic Church because they consider me a sinner because of who I love either. But I have, and would consider doing so in the future, donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which I know has done good work in the past during the AIDS crisis. But I would donate with the confidence of knowing that I’m donating to a charity and not a denomination.

If the SA had set up a separate charity arm, then I might consider donating as long as I am assured that they won’t use my donations in a discriminatory manner. But as it is, when I drop a dollar in the bucket, I have no way of knowing whether that dollar will help someone in need or will go to print Sunday School material to teach their little cadets (or whatever they call their junior members) what a sinner I am.

And so, yes, I do boycott the Salvation Army, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Absolutely count me in.

Bil Browning
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

All your base are belong to us. :)

Good post, Timothy. I think you nailed what I was going for.

I’d quibble over their lobbying efforts worldwide in favor of anti-gay policies and their heavyhanded threats to get their own way, but I love it that you pointed out I’m not a leader of the community, the community itself, or a gay group.

I also didn’t call for a boycott. They never work. It’d be a dumb request.

I still think it’s important to point out that the group threatened to close soup kitchens in NYC if they had to agree not to discriminate in employment and actually closed their kitchens and stores in San Fran when they weren’t given the exemption.

Annette
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

I don’t care whether the Salvation Army is considered a church or not. I am a huge supporter of LGBT rights. When I see any organization that requires LGBT people to be celibate or anything else that they wouldn’t ask of a straight person, then they don’t get my money or my respect. There are millions of organizations that help people without these caveats, and I choose among them when I make donations. My gay son is no different that anyone else and there should be no distinction between how he is treated and how straight people are treated. There may not be a unified boycott of the Salvation Army by the LGBT community, but this is one mother who IS boycotting them!

Muscat
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

I agree with the general sentiment of this post, but can’t easily parse this phrase that (pardon the pun) seems to come out of left field:
“And the Chicago marxist organization masquerading as a gay group, Gay Liberation Network…”

This would make sense if the organization were primarily taking part in, say, labor protests and issues as an LGBT contingent and not really acting on LGBT interests and issues. But looking at their website it appears at least in recent years their actions and interests have been centered in typical gay events and issues like protesting anti-gay leaders, protesting for equal marriage rights, and partaking in pride and other gay visibility events. Just because you don’t agree with their political viewpoint doesn’t make them any less “real” a gay organization. You might as well say “BTB is centrist blog masquerading as a gay blog…”

Maybe you are privy to other information about this group? Or maybe you just can’t keep yourself from denigrating those you disagree with?

F Young
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Say what you will, I’m boycotting them, and I have for years.

I think that it’s naive to think that they treat gays equally.

There are so many LGBT refugees and street youths who would be better served by a non-religious group.

Jim Burroway
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Just to clarify, while I am boycotting the red kettles, that is different from calling for a boycott, which I have no interest in doing. But I also think raising awareness of where your spare change might end up going is important. And so I’m fine with the attention they’re getting in the mainstream media. I think a lot of people in the gay community — whoever and wherever that is — aren’t necessarily aware of what the Salvation Army really is, and so casting this light on them, in my view, is not unwarranted.

By the way, I agree with Muscat. Gay Liberation Network is a gay group, just like GoProud. If GLN is also Marxist (and I don’t know that they are, although Peter LaBarbara is pretty convinced), then they would be gay and also Marxist, just as GoProud is gay (sadly) and, well, to call them Republican hardly seems fair to Republicans.

Chip
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Stephen, who exactly are “we” in your comment above? Unless you’re willing to step up and become the spokesman of all GLBT people, you really ought to choose your words more carefully.

And what exactly makes the Salvation Army a hate group as you seem to suggest? If we’re going to go by the standards set forth by the SPLC, an anti-gay hate group is one that spreads documented lies about gays and lesbians. In fact, the SPLC is very clear (the Religious Right’s blubbering to the contrary notwithstanding) that religious convictions about the supposed sinfulness of homosexuality are not enough to qualify an organization as a hate group.

What, then, lies are the Salvation Army is spreading? What verifiable falsehoods could peg them as a hate group? Their beliefs about GLBT people appear to be limited to within their own ranks — I’ve never seen a spokesman for the Salvation Army imply that genocidal laws in Uganda against gays and lesbians are “a step in the right direction” (as has Scott Lively), or attempt to link homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality (as has the Family Research Council), or say any number of other vile things that Bryan Fischer vomits out of his mouth on a regular basis. Is the Salvation Army’s view of homosexuality misguided? I would say so. Does that mean that I, or you, or any other individual, gay or otherwise, should then immediately resort to calling them hateful bigots? No.

You have every right to avoid the Salvation Army and ask others to get on board with your efforts. You do not, however, have the right to put words in the mouths of those who disagree with you. Not only are folks like me going to roll their eyes, but you will also continue to provide fodder to the TRUE anti-gay hate groups that will use your words as another excuse to spread their hate to the public at large.

Robyn Montague
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Boycott, whatever you want to call it, I will not donate to them. They do discriminate by excluding Transgender people from their Non-discrimination policy. I will continue to ask people not to donate, they are not an affirming charity.

Chip
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

This whole fiasco really reminds me of the Chick-fil-A controversy of January. Jeremy Hooper sheds light on the anti-gay ties of the fast food restaurant and asks people to consider shopping elsewhere. Some other organizations then interpret that as a call for a national boycott, and all of a sudden we have Religious Right spokespeople of all stripes screaming about how intolerant we are. Funny how I never see them say the same about ACTUAL boycotts against gay-friendly corporations…

Lucrece
December 1st, 2011 | LINK

Asking celibacy of one group of the population arbitrarily is among the most perverse things I can think of doing to a human being.

Sexually and romantically deprived human beings are always warped.

As usual, though, leave it to mainstream media to miss the point. USA Today has always been a disgrace when it comes to LGBT coverage.

They always write us down in the tone of aggressors and militant people.

George / Seattle
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

We can ivory tower the reasons why not to donate, and yes, even give them credit for some good works.

Fact for me for several decades, not a penny. What do I call it , NOT A PENNY.

In Settle there are tons of LGBT charities, toy drives, food drives and helping down and out folks missions who serve all comers, no wisp of anti homo. Some days I sport a Santa Hat, my street cred is big …

Erin
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I agree mostly with this post. Though I am a lesbian, and one of those lesbians who feels no need to apologize for nor hide who I am, the Salvation Army has helped me personally, by giving my alcoholic/addict brother a roof over his head and a job. Yes, they made him sing in the choir and attend Bible study, but my brother is more into God than I, so he didn’t have a problem with it. I’m sure if my brother shared my views on religion, he would have opted to go elsewhere, or would have just played along just so they would take him in. We live in the Northeast. When he was in the Salvation Army Adult Rehab Center, I explained to him what I heard about them. He explained to me that they would not turn away gay people, and had in fact taken them in, but like your article said, they did not want sexual activity going on in the building. The men he referred to unfortunately were caught breaking that rule and were kicked out, but my brother understood the rule as they could come back and try again after a certain waiting period. I’m not sure though. I agree with this article. We don’t have to support them. There are other charities we could choose, but at the same time, if the only way I can help is by dropping change in the bucket, I will. Too many are suffering. It is important to remember that the money goes to help people like my brother, people who are desperate and ready to give up hope. And I agree that these journalists should report this more accurately. One voice of the gay community raising complaints does not mean we all are going to boycott. No boycott out there has ever been carried on by every member of a certain group. I know I still shop at Target.

Steve
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

My approach is to donate to the SA kettle with phony dollar bills that have messages printed on them extolling the SA for its unfair treatment of gay people. From a distance, these look like genuine dollar bills. Sure, it sounds kind of childish….but it might make the cash collectors on the other end think a bit about their sometimes holier than thou attitude. There are certain internet sites where these phony bills can be downloaded.

Norm!
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

The Salvation Army does deserve recognition for the work it does for the most vulnerable. However, I choose to give to other organizations that are LGBT-supportive such as local agency for homeless youth.

Besides, I can’t stand bell-ringing and the military motif is disturbing. Can you imagine the outcry if there was the Muslim Militia or Atheist Army solicited donation outside Wal-Mart?

Bryan
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I just think of it like this: imagine how absurd it would be pre-1978 to tell a black person to donate to the Mormon church or any Mormon nonprofit or charity group. Is this really that different?

elaygee
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Some problems with your “facts”

1)Habitat For Humanity is also a fundamentalist Xtian organization that will not, does not help GLBT people or their families. Being GLBT disallows you from receiving their help.

2) The Salvation Army won’t let homeless in for the night at their shelters unless they’ve got $10 to pay for a cot and a hot meal and then you have to go to the sermons or you’re out

There are plenty of local food pantries and non-denominational shelters you can donate to instead of the SA.

Reed
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

The POINT of the boycott was/is all about domestic partnership coverage and equal treatment.
Keep stuffing the pink dollars in the kettles.

Johnny Laird
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Thanks, Timothy for posting this more measured and considered response to the story.

Here’s an old post of mine about The Salvation Army’s response to the LGBT community, which I hope you find to also be measured in tone.

http://www.johnnylaird.net/2011/03/looking-outside-of-yourself-jay-bakker-the-salvation-army/

Grace & peace

J

Gregory
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I think that dropping a buck or two in a kettle and saying “I;m gay – and not boycotting the S.A.” will do a little one on one – face to face good PR for our community.

Jay Jonson
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I don’t speak for anyone but myself, but I AM boycotting the Salvation Army. I have boycotted the Salvation Army for years. They have used their enormous resources to campaign against equal rights for homosexuals.

David Roberts
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, I think you open yourself up to unnecessary push-back by appearing to speak for the entire gay community. I realize that wasn’t your intention, but it can be dangerous no matter who does it.

Before any of this controversy erupted, or at least before I had any awareness of it, I wrote a letter to the headquarters of the Salvation Army expressing my concerns, and notifying them that I would not be giving to them through any means due to their stand on gays. There are simply too many other gay-friendly, charitable outlets for my limited dollars. That’s very telling.

I understand that they are still considered a church, however I don’t think that really matters in this instance — they run it as a national charity and that’s how most people perceive them when they donate. As a result, I think they should be treated as such. That’s my opinion and governs only my actions. But even if they are a church, my decision would not change — I just would have less expectation of them changing in the future.

I would also encourage you to contact your local Salvation Army and ask questions about “sexual orientation” etc. As in my case, I suspect you will find their answers are not quite so “enlightened.” It seems to depend a lot on the local demographic.

One last thought; it just occurred to me that, although they regularly showered me with donation requests by mail, I received no reply to the concerns in my letter to them. The solicitations did stop, however. That’s very telling.

Hunter
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I hadn’t realized the Salvation Army was an actual church, not that it will make any difference — I haven’t given to them for years, and there are plenty of other organizations that will help the needy with no strings.

They do discriminate, in hiring and application of benefits if not in providing services. That’s their right, but I don’t have to support it.

Martha
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

This is enlightening – I thought I was choosing not to donate (a personal boycott if you will) because of their history towards the LGBT community. Now I realize that a better reason, and one that will ensure that I don’t drop even a dollar into their kettles is that, as an atheist, I want no part in supporting their brand of rice Christianity. If people need help, they shouldn’t have to sit through propaganda to get it.

Matt
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Great post!

“We are going to make you change your theology” is a losing battle for gay folks. I don’t care if the theology is right or wrong or what. This is NOT the strategy we should be adopting.

Christopher
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I always hesitate when I see their collection kettles…

Yet, they are one of the first organizations to feed the gay youth on the streets in Toronto, and they were the first to provide a hospital in Toronto where unwed mothers could have babies…

It’s a conflict that shouldn’t be.

Jim Burroway
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

elaygee:

1)Habitat For Humanity is also a fundamentalist Xtian organization that will not, does not help GLBT people or their families. Being GLBT disallows you from receiving their help.

That is factually incorrect. First, Habitat is not a fundamentalist organization of any stripe. Many fundamentalist churches participate, but so do may more liberal churches, synagogues and non-sectarian groups. Secondly, being LGBT does not disqualify one from receiving help. What’s more, LGBT organizations participate in home builds. Here in Tucson, there was a Rainbow Build sometime around 2004, and they are gearing up for another one next year.

David Roberts
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

@Christopher

That’s why I think it should be a personal decision, as Timothy implied. They do allow much more draconian behavior from various locations. If what you say is true, then Toronto may be a more liberal location. I certainly hope those kids or unwed mothers did not have to pay for that help by accepting a negative view of their lives.

Priya Lynn
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “The Salvation Army is not homophobic.”.

I’m amazed that you’d say that – they obviously are. I know a couple who went to them for assistance and were told they’d only get assistance if they ended their relationship. Just because a lot of churches have this stance doesn’t make it right and doesn’t make it not homophobic.

I am also boycotting the Salvation Army. The more people use them as a charity the more bigotry and hate will be spread.

Ben In Oakland
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I have no idea if the SA discrimina­tes on the basis of sexual orientatio­n in terms of the people they help. Would they would be willing to offer that help to a homeless gay couple with two children, knowing that they are gay? I don’t know.

My beef with the salvation army is not about whether they do or don’t help people on the basis of their sexual orientatio­n. I think it is a red herring, lacking much in the way of evidence.

I do give money to help poor people.
I have given the SA a lot of stuff to sell because they will take a great deal of what goodwill will not.

But I do not give money to the alvation army. Why? Many years ago–1989? –the SA declared that they would terminate all their contracts to help poor people with the city of san Francisco if the city followed through with a law saying that anybody who does business with the city must provide domestic partnershi­p benefits to their employees.

Rather than comply with the law that applies to everyone, rather than provide (basically­) HEALTH INSURANCE-­- not wedding cakes– to the registered domestic partners of their very few gay employees, the Salvation army said, essentiall­y,

SCREW THE POOR. We don’t care. We have political and religious points to score. Sounds just like the Catholic charities, dunnit?

As long as they have the time, energy, and money to treat their employees unequally and oppose the equal treatment of gay people before the law, then they certainly don’t need any of my money, or time, or energy.

There are plenty of organizati­ons that do need it, and do not use their religious beliefs as a cover.

I am quite clear as to why I don’t support the SA. They are entitled to their beliefs, as stupid, counterpro­ductive, anti-human­, a mistransla­tion and misapplica­tion of scripture, and on the wrong side of history in the civilized world as they are.

They are entitled to decide that they would rather serve no one if they must treat their gay employees like anyone else, as counter to their mission statement and the teachings of Jesus as THAT is.

What they are not entitled to is my money, which was my point. I’m not interested in shutting them down, forcing them to recant their religious beliefs, or any of that.

I’m just not giving them any money.

Priya Lynn
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

“Would they would be willing to offer that help to a homeless gay couple with two children, knowing that they are gay?”.

Not unless they ended their relationship.

Steve
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

So you admit that they attach strings to their “charity” and “aid”. You say that it’s perfectly fine for them to preach and proselytize, because that’s their mission.

It isn’t. It’s immoral and unethical. If they truly cared about people, they wouldn’t place such conditions on their help. Good people to good things, because it’s the right thing to do or because it feels good. Not because they have ulterior motives such as converting others. Too much Christian “charities”, particularly in places like Africa, are really just thinly disguised missionary efforts. It’s for that reason that they need to be opposed.

Yes, people need help. And there are secular charities out there that can provide such help. Especially on an international level, with the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders for example

Priya Lynn
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

And Oxfam, Steve.

Andora
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

None of us as individuals are all perfect, or all bad. Same holds for these organizations. While it’s easy to demonize the Catholic Church over a number of issues (and I do have issues with them), my time and experiences in Central America is that they were and are one of the most foward thinking and active church organizations is speaking out and working towards human peace and justice issues there. I have many friends in Guatemala, for instance, who have benefitted from the work of the Catholic Church over the past 30 years. I know a number of Catholic folks who died there, in El Salvador and a number of other Central American countries – murdered for doing the work of justice the church sent them to do. It IS a complicated issue and I think we all need to walk slowly and lightly as we seek to make judgements.

justme
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

You have got to be kidding. I’ve boycotted them since the early NINETIES. I don’t know anyone who gives to them or who doesn’t recognize that they’re a bastion of bigotry.

You are seriously not boycotting the hate group known as The Salvation Army? Your choice. Spreading the lie that thinking people aren’t boycotting them? Unbelievable.

And these people here saying that maybe the SA isn’t an institution that practices bigotry against LGBT people? There isn’t a question about that. They do. The end.

Anybody saying that’s okay? You’re wrong. The end.

One last thing: don’t speak for me, thanks. About anything.

This is actually what you choose to use this platform for?

justme
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

And this from Bil Browning, sadly:

“I also didn’t call for a boycott. They never work. It’d be a dumb request.”

Yeah, boycotts never work — except when they do. If they never work, why do they ever happen? And what is a boycott except a concious choice of where to spend my money — and why would I want to spend it with someone who discriminates against me? How is asking people to join me in that dumb? Since when am I required to give my money to The Salvation Army?

“I still think it’s important to point out that the group threatened to close soup kitchens in NYC if they had to agree not to discriminate in employment and actually closed their kitchens and stores in San Fran when they weren’t given the exemption.”

What in the world is the downside to this? If there’s a need, someone else will fill it. And maybe they won’t practice bigotry.

Let the Catholic “Charities” close their Illinois adoption agencies and stop harming families and let The Salvation Army close their soup kitchens and stop harming individuals, couples and families. Let’s bring an intentional end to their harm.

Do you seriously think we can’t do better than this?

Muscat
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

@Jim

I do think GOProud provides a good comparative case – especially since it is another group Timothy has talked about. I’m willing to listen to evidence that either group is really just a “cover” for some other political agenda. Just as I’m willing to listen to criticisms of more mainstream organizations such as HRC – or the recent pieces on Equality California on this site – that suggest they are letting other political considerations such as coziness with an administration or their own continued organizational existence trump best strategies for LGBT issues.

By way of comparison, I think there’s probably more clear evidence that GOProud is such a “cover” organization (at least based on the information on their website) since, for example, of their current top 5 newsroom posts only 2 are clearly centered on LGBT concerns (one being on marriage and the other being on an anti-gay leader) – the other 3 I would say are primarily about other issues (gun rights, economy, etc) which are then related back to LGBTs…a pattern I think Timothy has already pointed out on previous occasion.

In any case, I highlight my concern about this specific comment because I rely on this site largely due to its stated principles and what I see as its general adherence to them. Comments that denigrate groups by suggesting they are misrepresenting themselves in some way without providing any evidence of such (as was the case with this offhand comment), do not to me to be either tolerant or civil, and thus not in keeping with the general tone/approach of the site. This is of particular concern in this case since Timothy in particular appears to be developing a pattern of, at the very least, toeing the line between civil critique of tactics/politics he disagrees with and denigration of those he disagrees with (see, for example, his posts on Queer Rising’s protests).

As I stated in my original reply, if Timothy (or someone else) has information that this is a cover group that isn’t particularly interested in gay issues or gay equality, I’d like to hear about it. But if there is a specific concern about their actions/tactics in this particular case (for example, if the email written to media organizations misrepresents the amount of organizational support for a boycott) criticisms should be focused on that issue, not calling into question whether the group is an “authentic” gay group simply because one disagrees with their politics.

fred5
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

The Salvation Army is not homophobic. But it has somewhat conservative theology on the matter and has behaved carelessly, if not callously, towards the gay community.

The Salvation Army Catholic Charities is not homophobic. But it has somewhat conservative theology on the matter and has behaved carelessly, if not callously, towards the gay community.

The Salvation Army Southern Baptist Convention is not homophobic. But it has somewhat conservative theology on the matter and has behaved carelessly, if not callously, towards the gay community.

The Salvation Army Catholic Church is not homophobic. But it has somewhat conservative theology on the matter and has behaved carelessly, if not callously, towards the gay community.

The Salvation Army National Organization for Marriage is not homophobic. But it has somewhat conservative theology on the matter and has behaved carelessly, if not callously, towards the gay community

The Salvation Army Westboro Baptist Church is not homophobic. But it has somewhat conservative theology on the matter and has behaved carelessly, if not callously, towards the gay community.

The point I am trying to make is that once you start apologizing for the actions of one group on the basis that it is their “conservative theology on the matter” then you will have to forgive them all. No exceptions.

I, for one, will not do that.

Any organization that would treat me differently (and telling me that I have to be celibate definitely applies in the case of the Salvation Army) because of who I am will never receive any support from me either financially or otherwise.

Jan
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I do not donate goods or money to the Salvation Army because of their un-Christian stance on homosexuality. I do not think that Jesus meant “love your neighbor as yourself” to exclude gay folks. To excuse their beliefs as falling “within mainstream Christianity” does not absolve the organization of bigotry.

I give generously to charitable organizations that are accepting of all humanity.

Inwood
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

If you are looking for places to donate to that help homeless LGBT youth, have a look at these:

St. Luke in the Fields (LGBT-inclusive NYC Episcopal parish) “The Church” program for LGBTQA youth:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXVEfHHpshk

Ali Forney Center for housing:
http://www.aliforneycenter.org

J. Peron
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

When I was living overseas there was a political in parliament for civil unions for gay couples. The Salvation Army did more than just say gay members of their church had to be celibate. They also actively lobbied to try and defeat civil unions.

The Salvation Army, on their own website, recommends Focus on the Family, to get information on how people can use the law to ban erotica. So, while unlike most Religious Right groups with a political agenda, they do some real charity, the fact is, they still have a political agenda. And that agenda includes opposing legal equality for gay people. If this were only limited to their church it wouldn’t be worth mentioning. But like the Catholic Church, and the Southern Baptist Church, they have actively worked to fight against equality for gay people. So, yes I’m boycotting them and urging others to give elsewhere.

Ben in Atlanta
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Our Center’s Women’s Outreach is doing a Toiletries Collection for homeless veterans. We’ve been packing shoe boxes and giftwrapping them. That ends on 12/11. There is no web site directly for that project.

Our LGBT singles group is volunteering Sunday with “For the Kid in All of Us” at their Toy Party and Silent Auction.

http://www.forthekid.org/

We’re supposed to close on our new building 12/15 which co-incedentally is right around the corner from the Metro Atlanta Salvation Army Temple. Or maybe it’s just synchronicity.

cmichaelsen
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Paul wrote that pastors should remain unmarried, if possible. In that way, they would not be concerned with the affairs of a family and could put all their energy into a ministry.

Jesus stated that divorced women are committing adultery if they marry again.

So..why are conservative Christian churches not requiring that pastors remain unmarried and divorced women not be allowed to marry again. If gay and lesbian people can be expected to remain celibate…than so can pastors and divorced women.

Matt
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

All the folks here who believe that they are striking a blow for gay rights by not donating to the Salvation Army’s Christmas kettles remind me of the Harvard students who believed they were striking a blow against income inequality by cutting their economics class.

Priya Lynn
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

No analogy there, Matt. Judging by the responses here it is more accurate to say “The gay community is boycotting the salvation army” than it is to say “The gay community is not boycotting the salvation army”.

Ben In Oakland
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I don’t think anyone thinks of this as striking a blow for gay rights.

for myself, it is simply a matter of not supporting people who think that gay rights blow.

Jerry
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I will give to anyone in need…no strings attached. I do not care if they have beliefs or a lifestyle that is different from my own. I do not give to any organization that does not operate the same way. The Salvation Army has been off my list of decent organizations for more than 20 years. They are not a charity but an organization seeking domination.

Pender
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

“The Salvation Army is not homophobic.

But, consistent with a significant portion of mainstream Christianity, they believe that gay people should live celibate lives.”

Holy smokes. Seriously? This approaches parody. Are we seriously saying, now, that it’s not homophobic to believe that folks like me and my husband are immoral simply because we did not resign ourselves to a cold and lonely life?

I understand the impulse to seem nice, to avoid playing the role of bullies in the public eye, to put a good PR gloss on our struggle for basic equality.

But in this case, no, absolutely not. By your logic, Maggie Gallagher isn’t a bigot either — she simply believes that gay people should live celibate lives. Same with Tony Perkins. And Brian Brown.

Count me in as another gay person who is boycotting the Salvation Army. This Uncle Tom stuff makes me sick.

Timothy Kincaid
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Lucrece,

Asking celibacy of one group of the population arbitrarily is among the most perverse things I can think of doing to a human being.

Sexually and romantically deprived human beings are always warped.

Well…. let’s agree on “are often warped.” But you raise an interesting point that is one of the most challenging to American Christendom currently.

It has for a very very long time been the teaching of the church that celibacy is required for a group of people, but it wasn’t exactly arbitrary or without good historical basis. The church banned sex for all unmarried people.

And that seemed to work fine for a long time. People in general accepted that as the church’s proper message.

But effective contraception and increased opportunities for women challenged the reasons for marriage before sex. The more liberal churches took a hard look and mostly decided that marriage was still necessary (or at least advisable), for of a host of emotional and practical as well as religious reasons. (Conservatives never considered changing).

But the recognition of sexual orientation has proven even more difficult. What does a faith do with people who have not yet married, BUT are also not going to marry a person of the opposite sex.

Christianity tells them that they should seek justice and mercy and that they should treat gay people the same as they want to be treated. But Christianity also tells them that homosexual behavior is forbidden.

And it is this decision about what to do that has split two denominations so far and will continue for a ways to come to be challenging and divisive to others.

Timothy Kincaid
December 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Okay a few responses,

To those who only got as far as the title before thay indignantly denounced the commentary:

I’m glad that you are certainly not going to give the Salvation Army one cent, one cent I tell ya. Hmmph.

That is, after all, what I recommended. So you can do your own personal ‘boycott’ with my full blessing.

To those who define “homophobic” as “does not share my own views on morality”:

I think homophobia has to contain some element of malice. Believing that same sex sexual behavior is forbidden in Scripture is not evidence of malice. Believing that Scripture is the inspired word of God is not evidence of malice.

And let’s not be quick to broaden the definition of “homophobe”. If we throw this word around too inclusively, then we have no way to distinguish between the folks who don’t want their church to have to offer domestic partner benefits, and the folks who want to see us spend 14 years in jail for committing to each other.

To those who provided more information about SA in other countries:

Thank you. That gives a broader perspective and certainly support our suggestion that gay donors find an organization that is a better fit.

Robert Deidrick
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

I am a case manager in social services at The Salvation Army near Phoenix , Arizona.
We serve ALL people without question of sexual orientation or choices. We just plainly DO NOT ASK if anyone is gay or lesbian or heterosexual if they need material assistance. We help with food, shelter , clothing and other basic human needs. There is no need to ask such questions. Much info that I have read on this site is incorrect. ANYONE is welcome to worship at The Salvation Army. However, why would someone who is gay or lesbian desire to be a soldier or officer in the membership of this branch of the church? Sex outside of marriage (policy and doctrine)is not acceptable practice. All are judged by the Lord. Of course The Salvation Army would not ordain gays or lebians (knowingly)for ministry since they hold to the belief of marriage being between a man and a woman. I fail to think that there is a desire to change Salvation Army doctrine which is derived from Scripture.
What about all the gays and lesbians that receive help through The Salvation Army? If more people choose to not support the social services work , then many people including (gays and lesbians)will not receive the assistance that they need (without discrimination).That includes the poor, children, and homeless individuals.
Because some people disagree on doctrine or issues does not mean they cannot treat one another without a mean spirit.

Andrew
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Wow — a strong reaction here, many postings.

1. As complicated as it sounds, I got the sense that the “we” in the article was actually to say that the LGBT community is not monolithic, and as such the “we” is to say that there is a spectrum of opinion. I like this — it’s something I’ve argued many times…

2. There are absolutely many organizations that don’t use food & shelter as a lure for proselytizing, which, at the end of the day, is exactly the goal of these organizations, although I’m sure they don’t see it that way because it conflicts with their self-interested mission of saving others because their beliefs are superior in some way. To share your faith on an even playing field is fine, and admirable. To use charity as an entree is nothing less than coercion.

3. Mr. Deidrick, with all due respect, I find your beliefs highly insulting to me as a person and a child of God — and the very definition of a “mean spirit”. Who are you to judge me? If one were to believe that blacks or women were inherently unclean it would be seen for the viciousness that it is, cloaked in words of holiness that make it all the more odious. I find any “faith” that judges children of God in this way to be disturbed, self-satisfied, and blind to scripture from which it obviously cherry picks. And to play the argument that your quiet hatefulness is justified by the potential suffering of those who would not receive your good works is just morally bankrupt. Sadly… you probably don’t even see it.

If the cost of services to gays and lesbians is to accept judgement and discrimination, then we’ll happily look after our own. We’ve been doing that very well for several decades now, and I know that when I give to the charities that I choose – some directed to the gay community, some not – they don’t apply some pseudo-Biblical filter on hiring, membership, and they sure don’t use food as bait.

Priya Lynn
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Robert said “If more people choose to not support the social services work , then many people including (gays and lesbians)will not receive the assistance that they need.”.

False! People who refuse to give to the Salvation Army because of its bigotry will give to other charities instead and the same number of people will recieve assistance.

Priya Lynn
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “I think homophobia has to contain some element of malice.”.

I think homophobia is any intention to treat gays as less than equal.

Timothy said “Believing that same sex sexual behavior is forbidden in Scripture is not evidence of malice.”.

Even if a person may not believe that out of malice the end result is malicious and utterly inexcusable. At one time (and perhaps still today) some people believed slavery was justifiable because of the bible. By your logic they therefore weren’t racists.

Priya Lynn
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

And Robert we haven’t forgotten what Bil pointed out:

“the group threatened to close soup kitchens in NYC if they had to agree not to discriminate in employment and actually closed their kitchens and stores in San Fran when they weren’t given the exemption.”.

Its obvious that contrary to your claims to be willing to help all regardless of sexual orientation the Salvation Army’s homophobia is a much higher priority than helping those in need.

andrew
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

This kind of charity amounts to holding food over the head of the needy as bait in exchange for an opportunity to prosletyze to them.

mike/
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

seems like the sentiment in the comments is though there is NO organized boycott per se, many of us do not give to an organization that, as one person said, “This kind of charity amounts to holding food over the head of the needy as bait in exchange for an opportunity to prosletyze to them.”

i have to agree and made the decision many years ago that i would not financially in any way support an organization that demands something in return from the needy other than their physical betterment.

though religions have the right to do this, i will not support them and know many others who feel the same way.

Ben In Oakland
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Andrew. #3 of what you said. Dittolicious.

Ben In Oakland
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Mr. Deidrick, you wrote this.

“Of course The Salvation Army would not ordain gays or lebians (knowingly)for ministry since they hold to the belief of marriage being between a man and a woman.”

Quite apart from your non-sequitur of ordaining versus beliefs about marriage, Ordination is such a funny thing. It usually requires a calling from God. I assume the SA is no different in this. But if the Salvation Army (unknowingly, as you so parenthetically and charmingly put it) ordains a gay man or lesbian, are its ordination procedures out of whack, or is its interpretation of god’s will about gay people out of whack, or both? If God is calling peiople to your priesthood, maybe he’s trying to tell you osmething.

And if “Salvation Army doctrine which is derived from Scripture” instead of the cherry orchard is actually the case, then why on earth is a woman, no matter how noble and/or godly, being given any spiritual or teaching authority over any man, no matter how reprobate? I do know what the bible says about that, and it is far clearer than any of the alleged condemnations of homosexuality.

This is the probem with the oft-repeated claim that we’re just doing what god wants. The SA is just doing what it wants– judging others, not rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and so forth.

As I mentioned in my posting– admittedly, this was 20 years ago– the Salvation army was more than willing to SCREW THE POOR in san Francisco if it meant recognizing domestic partnerships– NOT EVEN MARRIAGES– for its gay employees.

andrew
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Here’s the thing that I’m finding amazing. You don’t need to be a monolithic group, or announce a “boycott” to find that some people just independently take offense at offensive behavior.

There’s no “boycott” because Gays aren’t some international fraternity/sorority order. We don’t get Gay Agenda updates on our little pink (or motorcycle-decal’d for the girls) iPads.

Unlike the Salvation Army, we don’t get, and sure as hell don’t take, marching orders.

We are, however, a many colored array of individuals who can think for themselves and arrive at remarkably similar conclusions when presented with arguments like those we’ve heard.

Sometimes when you offend a crowd, the crowd will stand up. Not because someone is holding up a placard saying “stand now”, but because, individually, you’ve just pissed us all off.

Ben In Oakland
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

andrew, you could be my new best friend.

Timothy Kincaid
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Robert Diedrock,

Thank you for your comments and clarification about the Salvation Army’s services. I appreciate that you do not proactively deny services based on sexual orientation.

But please be aware that those who participate at this site are not likely to accept Your assertions about the scripture as being true. As you undoubtedly know, churches are increasingly finding that scripture simply doesnt support what you and others claim that it does.

I would recommend that before you chide others about what is judged by the Lord that you do a little study, and not the sort that is designed to prove yourself right. I challenge you to do the following

1. Take a piece ad paper and a pen
2. Write down the names of as many Biblical heroes as you can recall
3. Circle those who had a marriage that would be considered acceptable to the Salvation Army

And if that isn’t convincing, I encourage you to do a study on eunuchs in the Bible, keeping in mind that this term did not just include castrati. It would be comparable to today’s ters “queer” or “sexual minority”

And finally, remember that not all are Believers. If you appeal to the Bible as a defense for a position that is discriminatory and appears to be based in bigotry, that will not convince them that you are right. It will only convince them that the bible is bigoted.

Please think and pray on this.

We serve ALL people without question of sexual orientation or choices. We just plainly DO NOT ASK if anyone is gay or lesbian or heterosexual if they need material assistance. We help with food, shelter , clothing and other basic human needs. There is no need to ask such questions. Much info that I have read on this site is incorrect. ANYONE is welcome to worship at The Salvation Army. However, why would someone who is gay or lesbian desire to be a soldier or officer in the membership of this branch of the church? Sex outside of marriage (policy and doctrine)is not acceptable practice. All are judged by the Lord. Of course The Salvation Army would not ordain gays or lebians (knowingly)for ministry since they hold to the belief of marriage being between a man and a woman. I fail to think that there is a desire to change Salvation Army doctrine which is derived from Scripture.
What about all the gays and lesbians that receive help through The Salvation Army? If more people choose to not support the social services work , then many people including (gays and lesbians)will not receive the assistance that they need (without discrimination).That includes the poor, children, and homeless individuals.
Because some people disagree on doctrine or issues does not mean they cannot treat one another without a mean spirit.

Posted on December 3rd, 2011

andrew
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Despite my clear frustration and anger expressed above, it occurs to me that there is something that I think might divide us in our understanding:

I believe there are those who think that exposing others to their faith is an act of clear good for various reasons:
– because they believe that the person might experience the same positives that they have through the practice of that faith
– because aspects of their faith command them to do so
– because they believe that other-believers are imperiled spiritually or emotionally

Some of us see the unasked for sharing of religion as imposition, a violation of our privacy, an act of salesmanship, or of aggression. A statement that the object of this attention is inferior and lacking.

It is in this light that I do not believe that the needy can freely exchange food & shelter for exposure to religious persuasion. With enough deprivation, anyone will do whatever it takes to ensure their basic needs are met. That is the definition of coercion, and it is fundamental violation of the very principles of free will upon which a clear conscience and honest belief is founded.

One of my first jobs was working on a project for a nearby Jewish temple (I’m not Jewish, but that wasn’t important in their hiring). The rabbi at one point discussed the relative blessings of charity. They were ranked.

Of the lowest order is one where the recipient and donor know each other. There is the possibility for a feeling of indebtedness here, ant the potential for abuse.

A higher mitzvot is one where the donor knows the recipient, but the recipient does not know the donor. The recipient does not feel beholden, but the donor could engage in pride, or elevate themself over another, and they judge the worthiness of others.

The highest order was one where the donor and the recipient don’t know each other at all. There are no strings, no authorship, or pride. It is a true blessing.

We’ve all talked about directed giving (“I donate here, I don’t donate there”), in no small part because of strings, demands, agenda.

What an interesting world it could be if we all could do more of the higher mitzvot. Something to think about this holiday season.

ursomniac
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

The SA has spent millions of $$$ lobbying against – among other things – AIDS research and treatment programs, arguing that “well, they’re all going to hell anyway”.

The SA was caught – in 2003 – doing backhand lobbying at the White House in the hopes of getting a dispensation from anti-discrimination laws (Google is your friend)…

The SA has – on many occasions – denied aid to people who they discovered were not heterosexual but ALSO to heterosexuals who allowed non-heterosexuals to live with them (and would directly or indirectly benefit from the aid). In one case, they told a woman with young children whose husband had just died that before they’d help her she had to evict her late husband’s brother who was living with them and dying of AIDS-related complications.

I fail to see how in the light of examples like these that the SA can be seen as anything EXCEPT “homophobic”.

The claim that the SA doesn’t “ask” about orientation is misleading – I humbly request that the “case manager” above truthfully answer about what SA policy is if they discover through ANY means (aside from direct questioning) that someone isn’t heterosexual when applying for aid.

Jim Burroway
December 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Ursomaniac.

Please provide a source for your claim that “SA has spent millions of $$$ lobbying against – among other things – AIDS research and treatment programs, arguing that ‘well, they’re all going to hell anyway’.”

Also please provide a source for the “husband had just died that before they’d help her she had to evict her late husband’s brother who was living with them and dying of AIDS-related complications.”

Claims such as these require support, per our Comments Policy.

Gary Cozette
December 5th, 2011 | LINK

Wow! Not homophobic?

The root of persecution of gay people comes from the continuing religious belief that – despite science regarding the fixed orientation of gay people – same-sex relationships are inherently sinful, and thus unacceptable.

According to the Salvation Army’s beliefs, worldview and behavior of the Salvation Army, I and my partner of 23 years (and legally wedded spouse for 3 year) are unrepentant sinners, not meriting equality either in the church or society.

This is homophobic. They are unwilling to reconsider their exclusionary views of gay people because they are captive to a exclusionary theology that demonizes us as unrepentant sinners.

Why on earth would I as a gay person with an ounce of integrity give money to or through an organization that publicly and proudly excludes gay people from equality in the church and society?

I WILL BOYCOTT the Salvation Army Christmas street-corner donation pots until the Salvation Army publicly apologizes to gay people for its longstanding and continuing sin against us.

In the mean time, I have found more just and effective organizations to aid families in need.

Moreover, I will stand with the Occupy Wall Street movements which seek economic justice in our nation so that families are not dispossessed from their homes, life savings, and jobs by the 1% who seek ever lower taxes on their vast wealth, starving public services that force people to turn to the support of – yes – homophobic churches like the Salvation Army.

Timothy (TRiG)
December 5th, 2011 | LINK

I’ve never seen the Salvation Army. If they have a presense in Ireland, it’s small. This entire discussion is therefore somewhat academic for me, but I’d certainly support the boycott, even if the SA didn’t discriminate in their charitable acts.

When the SA does public charity, it supports the cultural narriative “conservative Christianity is a good thing”. That’s not a narriative I want to support. So why should I give the SA funds to propagate that narriative?

I try to give to charities which are tightly focussed on doing good works, and not on using those good works as a way to display how good they are. MSF and Barnados are my main choices.

TRiG.

andrew
December 5th, 2011 | LINK

I’ve read some 3rd party reviews of the article that sparked the conversation, and there appears to be some gaps between personal accounts, maybe chapter practice (vis a vis conditional charity) – basically, the guy who kicked this off isn’t really standing in an enviable place. What he’s saying might well be true, but it would be difficult to prove.

All that’s unnecessary, however.

I draw a comparison to shopping — I prefer to shop at stores that have policies I like. The argument that by shopping somewhere else I’m hurting the local economy or the employees would be just as ridiculous – out of everyone involved, they have the least say in how things happen.

There is competition for donation dollars, and I’m glad of it. I’m not saying I want the SA to shrivel up and die – I just want them to change their policy, and if they can’t do that, keep their opinions on me & my family to themselves in the privacy of their own home.

DN
December 6th, 2011 | LINK

And here I thought I was the only one who didn’t donate to the Salvation Army!

The only sentiment I could add would be to say that while the Salvation Army has a right to run their ministry however they see fit (so long as they don’t use public funds), just as much as *I* am free to be judicious in how I donate my money.

Robert Deidrick
December 7th, 2011 | LINK

I have heard and seen much of the comments such as posted here before. It is nothing new to me.People can disagree about views and Scripture. Some issues are that of culture when Scripture was written with the original meaning of Hebrew and Greek. Some will comment that they do not believe that the Bible is trustworthy or reliable. Others have commented that The Salvation Army discriminates. I am not an official spokesperson and I cannot vouch for what everyone has done or did not do in the Army world. I CAN tell you that we do not discriminate in the Phoenix area where I have assisted needy people regardless of background with social services.Black , white , Native American. heterosexual , homosexual , Christian , Hebrew, Buddists, atheists, WHOMEVER. It does not matter. If people need help and we can assist, we do. I am offended if anyone states that in my area of influence people are discriminated against because of sexual preference for basic human services.

Now when you talk about my personal view of Scripture and what it states I would say that sex outside of marriage is sin. Some would disagree but that is what I believe it means. I am not going to share several verses of Scripture or go on and on because I think people pretty much have their minds made up here.

Please do not think I am soliciting funds for The Salvation Army from anyone here or anyone that disagrees with any policies. There are many places I will not shop at or products I will not buy. I will not donate to many causes either. I DONATE to The Salvation Army because the case workers I work with assist all types of people. I see where the money goes for people. Rent, food , clothing, utilities. Some of these funds go to assist gays and lesbians. It does not matter if anyone here donates or not. We still will help people even if we disagree on some issues.

Merry Christmas

Timothy Kincaid
December 7th, 2011 | LINK

Robert,

Thank you for responding.

And thank you for opposing discrimination. Though we differ on scriptural interpretation, we can surely agree that Christ didnt pass out a questionnaire and nor should we. And if we are accused of cavorting with sinners at least we’re in good company.

As for our differences, I’ll not visit the cherry orchard to find scripture to throw at you. But I will toss a couple real brief concepts at you and let it be.

1. In decyphering scripture, we should always consider that applying rules to others is very easy. “You should” are about the easiest words we can say. But “I should” is much tougher. Try saying “I should never fall in love. I should never know romance. I should live alone. God wants me to never know what a walk in the beach together, a candle-lit dinner, and looking into the eyes of someone who is looking back the same feels like. Not only doe God want me to go my life without experiencing the joy He created through sex, he also wants me to never commit my life wholly to another for better or worse. Because God wants me to never ever be the most important person in someone else’s life.”

2. I don’t believe God to be arbitrary and cruel. Do you?

I’ve noticed a lot of Christians that assume that if God said something that therefore it justifies their abusive behavior. They can take your kids, kick you out of your home, remove you as deacon, or just very politely tell you -oh soooooo “lovingly” -that they “cant go againt the word of God”. But if their God wnts them to be assholes, it doesnt make them better. It really only means that the god they worship is an even bigger asshole.

Or… That they are complacent in their theology and unwilling to look to what Jesus said: everything, all the law and prophets, Leviticus and Romans, every fiery denunciation of evildoers, EVERYTHING, is judged in just one principle. Only one. And if we ever have doubts about interpretation, we are to measure it by that principle. I think you know the verse.

Sorry if I got preachy. It’s a family trait.

Robert, you seem like a good guy. And I really am not trying to change your theology. But some day when you have a moment think on what I’ve said.

God bless and merry Christmas

Robert Deidrick
December 9th, 2011 | LINK

Mike,

I would agree with your stand for not supporting any group that requires people to have to give something in return for assistance. At The Salvation Army in the Phoenix area we do not require people to listen to a sermon or appeal. What we ask for (as any basic social service agency)is proof of need and basic information with no questions about sexual preference or status. We have no reason for asking that nor do we discriminate against women , atheists , people of any race, or color of skin. We see people as individuals that are in need and we help. Unfortunately we do not pursue sharing that we offer worship services , let alone require people to attend. Maybe you have seen something different but we do not work that way in the Phoenix area. I would avoid lumping all Salvationists all together. Not everyone is of the same opinion.

Robert Deidrick
December 9th, 2011 | LINK

Ben,

Your comments are interesting. Just to let you know that many Salvationists cannot explain who they think they are. The Salvation Army is of Wesleyan-Methodist background without actively practicing the sacraments. The Army is more like a Mission and an agency than a church . I will admit that there are many similarities.Yes, there are female officers that do preach. Strict Calvinism (The Salvation Army is of Arminian background)teaches that women are to be silent in the church. Unfortunately many men have forsaken to share what God has called then to do and women have stepped in. The Bible speaks of propheteses even in the OT as well as the NT. The Apostle Paul was speaking to a group of believers where there seemed to be some problems with the women speaking during a time of worship and they caused a ruckus. Also this was the beginning of the NT and a few OT “customs” were still evident. There is much debate on that scripture and various opinions. Sometimes people split hairs on an issue.The Scripture also shares that in the last days that “Your sons and daughters shall prophesy”. I do believe that we are in the latter days.

Robert Deidrick
December 9th, 2011 | LINK

Priya,

I am not sure what you are referring to about the Salvation Army in another area but in the Phoenix area we do not discriminate against anyone in social services assistance. I cannot answer for another area or the whole of an organization but I know that in our sphere we help people regardless of their background.

Robert Deidrick
December 9th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy ,

I appreciate your article. You have actually shared some good info. You and I and others may have some differences but I think many of us have much in common when helping needy people regardless of their backgrounds. The Salvation Army is a great organization. There are many others too. People should weigh their options. I do. I see where many dollars go to help the homeless and needy families in the Phoenix area. I am sure many of the people assisted are gay or lesbian, but honestly we do not ask if they are or not. That is not our purpose. I have avoided much of the religious views because my point was to respond to those that state that we are all bigots and that The Salvation Army discriminates. I know that we do not in the area of social services.I am sure somewhere that it happens but I know that I don’t and I do feel that it would be unchristian to not serve anyone that qualified for assistance if we had the funds to assist. I am a former officers of nearly 30 years and I have never treated people mean because of their background.

StraightGrandmother
January 15th, 2012 | LINK

“Today an “Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States” was issued which declared equality to be a threat to “religious freedom”. It’s the usual tripe fancied up in silk robes and stinking of incense presented to “All Americans” as though it were universal truth. And, as it pretends to serve “the wellbeing of the couple, of children, of civil society and all people” this letter was not humble in its demands.”

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2012/01/12/40676#comment-114983

The Salvation Army signed. Perhaps you would now like to re-think your article from Dec 3, 2011. Just a thought….

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