why I don’t support the salvation army (and neither should you)

Every holiday season, multitudes of charities come out of the woodwork soliciting for donations. The Salvation Army is no exception, armed with their ubiquitous red shield, ringing bell and red bucket of shame, turning every visit to the grocery store into an epic dilemma: do I toss in a few coins or just try to avoid eye contact as long as possible? I'm here to offer you a third way: ignore them with impunity. They don't deserve your money.

I know what you're thinking: great, another anti-religious self-righteous rant about the perils of religious-sponsored charity. Another time, maybe. While I cannot deny that I find an organization of evangelicals organized around a military structure to be extremely creepy, that isn't the biggest problem here. The problem is something that any honest charitable donor should be troubled by:

In may of 2004, the Salvation Army objected to New York City's proposed anti-discrimination ordinance, which would mandate fair-hiring practices and offering of benefits to spouses in same-sex marriages. To combat this, they threatened to forego the ~$70 million/year in city funding, close their soup kitchens and pull out of NYC entirely.

This is a transgression that goes far beyond the superficial issue of whether or not you're terrified of Teh Gays. Even if you're comfortable with the agenda they pushed in this case, are you comfortable with the recipient of your charity dollars using them to promote a political agenda? Further, are you comfortable with a charitable organization withholding those services -- literally using them as leverage -- in pursuit of that agenda?

Think long and hard before you answer. Charity is not a game, and it's not a tool for political exploitation. We have a social safety net comprised of many organizations from many sources: secular, governmental, and religious. For many, they are the thin line between survival and destitution. When a charity threatens to withhold those services, it demonstrates a blatant and irresponsible disregard for its core mission.

There are tons of charities that offer similar services on a local and national level with integrity and transparency (and not all of them are secular!), which I urge you to donate to instead.

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  • Jessica

    I love this. They are only distorting their message by being so anti-gay.

  • Annonymous

    This is an extremely passive aggressive means of making sure the LGBT message is not heard, and that the needy suffer as a result. 
    If you have a problem with the Salvation Army’s LGBT agenda, which I do, write them a letter telling them why you are withholding your donation this year, and ask that they consider revising their policies. 
    It does no good to silently withhold money and make their overwhelming number of beneficiaries suffer as a result of your lack of desire to actually take action and make your voice heard. It is undeniable that the Salvation Army does do good work, and that many could not have survived without their assistance. To starve the entire organization is to punish those who need it. Change the organization to ensure they can continue to do good works, while revising their negative stance on LGBT rights. Write the Salvation Army (The Salvation Army National Headquarters 615 Slaters Lane P.O. Box 269 Alexandria, VA 22313) and let them know that they need to change their policies in order to obtain your support. Don’t be foolish and simply deny the needy due to your laziness- take action to receive action. 

    • Anonymous

      I always give my discards to The Salvation Army despite my being a Jewish Atheist. I survived the Shoa because Capitaine Riom hid me in a orphanage in Besançon France. Two of my cousins fell in the hands of the Catholic church that saw the Shoa as an opportunity to steal Jewish children. Both were baptized. I owe my life to Capitaine Riom of the Salvation Army. You bet, I will continue giving them what I do not need. They need it to help others just like they helped me.

      • TheAnonymouslyTrue .

        Thank God. Someone who is real.

    • TheAnonymouslyTrue .

      I understand what you are saying; however, what you are suggesting (writing a letter to HQ letting them know why you are withholding your donations and leveraging their policy about granting benefits to same-sex partners), is also absolutely destructive to the needy.

      I am an egalitarian; however, not at the expense of the big picture.

      One thing that troubles me about the entire LGBT political agenda is this: 1) In my experience, people who’ve let me know that they want me to put them in the LGBT category (although it doesn’t matter to me at all- if your identity were based only on your orientation/the gender to whom you were attracted, I’d have difficulty maintaining a friendship with you at all- since I hope you are more than the person you’re attracted to and your reproductive system), aren’t self enough to grandstand in a context that affects the most impoverished in our society. 2) Homosexuals, bisexuals, transgendered and heterosexuals need to get over the “Save the Gays Parade.” If I had to bring down a charity that does so much good for my own homo-hetero-bi-transgendered assumed identity, I would not want to be aligned with the lesser agenda.

      Get a grip. Life is all about sacrificing for the greater good. Being gay isn’t the issue; it’s just understanding that being gay in and of itself does not contribute to the greater good of someone else who cannot afford to barely live or who has no relief from anyone during times of disasters. Don’t leverage this in the face of God and of the needy. It’s more important to feed and clothe someone than it is to ensure that the person they’re sleeping with gets some benefits, don’t you think? If you can’t even feed and clothe yourself, would you have time to worry about what your sexual orientation and rights were as an individual? 1 in 7 people in the United States are going hungry tonight. WAKE UP.

      This post is proof that America has raised a bunch of babies who really do not understand the reality of how good we have it in this country, that we will deny our poorest to leverage our own selfish interests. And yeah, leveraging gay rights in this context is completely selfish; it absolutely contrasts with everything that makes those who are gay and great lesser and sad due to a poorly managed political agenda… Gays should spend more time working on charity than hiding out in the woods of Holly. Real gay people exist and are fully integrated into society; they are loved and cherished. Get the political grandstanders to sit down and shut up.

      • TheAnonymouslyTrue .

        I love the Salvation Army & go Glee Club! 😉

  • Anonymous

    To be fair, The Salvation Army does not have a political agenda. As a 501(c)3 religious organization, they are not bound to any political party and actually have the right to have their own hiring processes, as they see fit. While I do not know the details of what happened in New York, I can say with confidence that the donations that are made to The Salvation Army, whether through the National Red Kettle Campain or through individual donations throughout the year, go towards helping billions and billions of people across the 123 countries that The Salvation Army is located in. And, on another note entirely, The Salvation Army is one of the leaders as far as benefits for all of it’s employees and their families, inlcuding the thousands of homosexual employees employed worldwide. So please, the next time you decide to rant about an organization as a whole, make sure you actually know what you are talking about instead of using one isolated incident to fuel your fire.

    • Anonymous

      If you don’t think threatening to pull service to NYC as a result of proposed legislation doesn’t qualify as a “political agenda”, then I think we’re operating under different definitions.

      I never made any claims as to what they do or do not have the right to do. I am sure they are operating well within the bounds of a 501(c)3 organization, which includes their right to have a political agenda. This changes nothing regarding my decision to not support them because of it.

      • TheAnonymouslyTrue .

        Fine. But, ask yourself this: why in the world would a Christian organization with a history spanning all the way back to the 1800’s suddenly change course from a widely-accepted Biblical train of thought about marriage being between Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve? I hate to be vulgar; I’m not God and I didn’t write the Book. But honestly, they are not going to change course; and, they certainly have a right not to. If they wanted to pull services as leverage to stand behind their Biblical truths, than so be it. Frankly, that’s what you have to understand: it’s not like special favors aren’t done by other organizations favoring gay rights for those individuals claiming to be gay. It comes with a territory. (And, in the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah had a pretty disastrous ending). There is a reason that Fundamentalist Christians take the Word of God seriously. It may not be hip, but there are Christians who really view a different definition for marriage as being Biblically aberrant. Pressuring an organization that hauls rear to take care of the needy over something as inane as partner benefits is ridiculous. In fact, I’m shocked that they can provide benefits at all. It’s not that I don’t support equal rights, necessarily; my heart goes out to anyone whose dreams aren’t being fulfilled. But this much I know: when you’re working for a charity, you basically are a charity… Get used to giving; don’t expect to receive like they do in other sectors.

        I’m done writing on this topic for you tonight, but I have to chuckle… I mean, if you only knew… But, you obviously do not… The Salvation Army has some of the toughest most robust and hardy workers of any organization I know. I find this discussion to be silly. I even could potentially be gay, I’ve been so nice and helpful to others who actually are gay, for example; but even still, I don’t go there with the Salvo… You just need to get it- you’re putting a cinder block on a brick… The cinder block goes first and then the brick… Your priorities are questionable… “Well gee, I’m not supporting this organization which is serving billions in at least 123 countries AROUND THE WORLD, because they won’t give benefits to someone’s partner.” Come on… That’s just so silly to me… Take care.

  • bob

    As far as *I* can make out, the New York episode was subtly different than this post suggests. They seem to have been unwilling to comply with hiring standards mandated by the proposed legislation, and believed themselves to be exempt from such standards, as a church. It wasn’t “we will kill all your homeless if you pass this law” it was “we will be unable to comply with the requirements this law places on vendors, and will therefore have to cease being one of your vendors, even though we’ll lose a bunch of money by doing so.”

    This is, I admit, after 5 minutes of googling and skimming. So, not exactly precision research.

    That said, you should give your money to whatever charities you like. As Chris points out there’s not exactly a shortage of charities in need of money, you should be able to find plenty with philosophies that align pretty much exactly with your own, whatever they may be.

  • Misty

    Couple of facts that I know for certain as I work there (but I am NOT speaking on behalf of the Salvation Army in an official capacity):

    1 – Each and every Salvation Army location is its own “company” and all donations taken in a specific location serve the city in which it is located.
    2 – The Nashville Area Salvation Army does NOT discriminate in its hiring of anyone and I mean anyone.
    3 – The Salvation Army as a whole does NOT discriminate (sex, race, religion (yes you don’t even have to be a Christian), sexual orientation, etc.) in anyone in regards to our helping those in need. The only requirement to receive their assistance is that you demonstrate a need.

    Now, feel free to give you donations where you will, but as with generalizations, you can’t paint every Salvation Army with the same brush and I just wanted to point out a few things about the local organization.

  • Chris Patti

    I’m with Misty here.  I was pretty much 100% against the salvation army for years.  Then I got involved with Freemasonry and the chaplain of our lodge was a high ranking guy in the Boston area Salvation Army, and I witnessed first hand all the good they do in our community.

    Now I feel like punishing the entire organization for the misdeeds of a few loud mouthed boneheads is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  • PeachesMcGee

    I was in Joplin a couple of days after the 2011 tornado. The Salvation Army was magnificent. They rolled in and set up 8 or 9 canteens where anybody could get a free meal, bottled water and other beverages, they also arranged for a good deal of the temporary shelters in Joplin and carried out other rescue work. I along with many rescuers ate most of our meals at canteens. They never asked for payment or even a donation. They just did their work and, at an appropriate time, packed up and went to the next crisis.

    While there I saw the Red Cross, FEMA, National Guard, Baptists, Mormons, Methodists — hell, even the $cientologists showed up. Who didn’t I see? Why, the Homomob, of course. The never show up except to whine.

    I’m doubling my donations to the kettles this year just because I stumbled across this Intarwebs whine.

    • blue_allons_y

      “Homomob”? WTF? Do you think LGBTQ+ people walk around in rainbow clothes and function as a pack?

      • PeachesMcGee

        Ok, how about HomoMafia? Like the Sicilian equivalent they
        comprise a small number of the (their) population but they are
        equally as pernicious.

  • Joseph

    The Salvation Army is a Christian Church whose ministries are numerous, including the many social services everybody is well aware of. The issue in New York was one that would have The Salvation Army go against a fundamental belief that Marriage is supposed to be between a Man and a Woman. If they would have accepted the proposed ordinance they would be agreeing that marriage is not what God had intended. I only pray as a member of the Salvation Army that our leaders will continue to make the right choices when it comes to our (Christians) fundamental beliefs.