Wandering Bella got me thinking about the time of year when people are gently reminded it’s all about giving whenever they walk into a Target, WalMart, grocery store, Big Lots, Meijer, KMart, Sears, or any of the other myriad shops on which the Salvation Army has a bell-jingling monopoly.
For those of you who aren’t aware, I think it’s important that you know what this money supports. It goes directly into the pocket of an organization that actively discriminates against gays, non-Christians, and people with AIDS and HIV. It openly discriminates in its hiring and employment. It is also funded by tax dollars through the Faith-Based Initiatives brainchild of George W. Bush and receives 95% of its budget from taxpayers. The former director of the Initiatives admitted in 2004 that “no direct federal grants from his [Bush] program had gone to a non-Christian religious group.” That statement alone should concern proponents of the First Amendment.
Lawsuits against the organization have been dismissed by judges who claim it is not a conflict of interest to both receive federal funds and discriminate against people who receive (and provide) their services, despite the fact that the whole Faith-Based Initiatives crap is supposed to be about getting money to help everyone. I don’t understand how you can get government funding for social services and then determine how and to whom you dole it out. If a child is in need, a child is in need. You shouldn’t force a person to sign a document stating they will follow your mission statement, that they will not undermine your mission, and that you recognize their status not as a non-profit, but as a church. Nor should you demand employees agree that they will be “soldiers” and “radical disciples of Christ. “
It’s also super-shitty on your part to threaten to close down hundreds of soup kitchens when a lawsuit asks that you give domestic partnership health benefits to employees.
The Salvation Army is called that because the people who started the service organized it like a military group. Their mission was to “bring Christian salvation” to anyone who was destitute, meeting both their physical and spiritual “needs.” Their “About Us” section of their website has a drop-down menu with their opinions on marriage and divorce, human cloning, suicide, and religious persecution, to name a few. And of course, they detail how Christians are persecuted. They also continue to call people Officers, Commanders, and have their Articles of War posted, three of which are as follows:
- I will uphold the sanctity of marriage and of family life. (I think we all know what that means)
- I will abstain from alcoholic drink, tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult, and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.
- We believe in the immortality of the soul, in the resurrection of the body, in the general judgment at the end of the world, in the eternal happiness of the righteous, and in the endless punishment of the wicked.
When you think about it, I guess it makes sense. But for the longest time I didn’t think the name “Salvation Army” literally meant “the army bringing you salvation.”
And I certainly don’t want the few extra dollars in my pocket to go into those buckets out of guilt. I would much rather donate to a local charity that provides help in an undiscriminating and, you know, helpful way.