Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Walmart Protests Fizzle

The AFA may have dropped its boycott of Walmart over their involvement with gay rights groups, but right wing media whore Flip Benham didn’t. Benham is a carnival barker on the religious midway, the guy who shows up anywhere there’s an issue to exploit, from gay rights to abortion to Terri Schiavo, and a camera present. He was out front of a Walmart in Charlotte, NC on Friday, hoping to expose the store’s allegedly pro-gay agenda to the masses, who seemed much more intent on getting their hands on a Playstation 3.

Instead of shopping, Benham spent Friday morning out front of a Charlotte store, preaching against same-sex relationships and passing out leaflets.

One said Wal-Mart is being “blackmailed by the Devil himself.”

Was he speaking of himself? If not, that’s a rather silly statement. Bud Kennedy writes about the AFA withdrawing their call for a boycott and pointing out that Benham just thinks they’ve gone soft:

Benham wasn’t so happy. On his Web site, www.savewalmart.com, he wrote that the AFA “took the bait” and angrily accused conservative Christian churches in America of turning “effeminate.”

Ooh. I think he’s calling Don Wildmon gay; you catty little bitch, you. Kennedy also points out that there were other Christians standing out front of Walmart stores but they were doing something a bit more useful:

Christians were, however, standing in front of every Wal-Mart store and Sam’s Club I saw.

They weren’t carrying picket signs.

Only bells.

Unlike some retailers, Wal-Mart still welcomes the Red Kettle Drive bell ringers from the Salvation Army.

For more than 20 years, Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs have hosted the Salvation Army drive. Now, the faith-based charity depends on Wal-Mart shoppers.

Here in North Texas, Wal-Mart and Sam’s stores were 12 of the top 15 Red Kettle sites last year. The Fort Worth and Arlington drives collected more than $500,000 of the $107 million national campaign.

Wal-Mart is doing more to tell that story this year. The retailer will promote a kickoff event Tuesday at noon at stores nationwide after the national Red Kettle Drive rollout Thursday during the Dallas Cowboys game.

About $1 of every $4 for the drive is collected at Wal-Mart and Sam’s stores. The drive ends Christmas Eve.

So if you’re at a Walmart and you see Flip Benham out front protesting, flip him a quarter and tell him to go buy a clue. Then give a buck or two to the guys ringing the bells; they’re actually doing something worthwhile.


  1. #1 Ebonmuse
    November 27, 2006

    I feel compelled to point out that there’s an ongoing ACLU lawsuit over the Salvation Army allegedly either firing numerous gay or non-Christian employees or harassing them until they were fed up enough to quit. The Salvation Army used to have a policy statement that guaranteed equal employment without regard to religious beliefs, but they rescinded that policy in 2003. They have, of course, been happily accepting tens of millions of dollars per year in government money anyway.

  2. #2 JS
    November 28, 2006

    The Salvation Army, at least in the Scandinavian incarnation is on my top ten of creepy gits masquerading as aid workers while they prozelytise. Disgusting. Simply disgusting. I think Alon Levy hits the nail exactly on the head when he wrote this:


    – JS

  3. #3 kehrsam
    November 28, 2006

    With all due respect, JS, the rant you link is one of the sillier pieces I’ve seen along these lines. I particularly enjoyed the line where he seems to suggest that the Salvation Army causes hurricanes. His basic argument, that the SA supports policies that promote poverty, is just weird. I’m really not sure how he would support it, since he didn’t try. I doubt that the SA has a lobbyist, so it is not clear how they are pushing socially regressive policies.

    Yes, I agree they have some issues with gays. This is hardly a reason to sweep the good they do under the rug.

  4. #4 JS
    November 28, 2006

    I particularly enjoyed the line where he seems to suggest that the Salvation Army causes hurricanes.

    This is a very silly straw man. Levy does not charge the SA with making hurricanes; rather he charges them with supporting idiots like Bush who make sure that hurricanes turn out to be disasters.

    In any first-world country with a semi-decent disaster planning policy, Katrina would have been merely a major financial inconvenience. The German authorities, for instance, regularly evacuate on much the same scale and timeframe when their major rivers flood. In Bush’s US of A, it became a first-rate disaster, precisely because of the administration’s cronyism and faith-based disaster policies.

    Now, if you are telling me that the US version of the Salvation Army – unlike its Scandinavian counterpart – is not a card-carrying member of the Religious Right, then you may have a point. If you claim, however, that being part of the Religious Right does not make them morally culpable for the atrocities of their coalition partners, because they pay for bread-and-circus pseudocharity, then you are simply missing the point.

    – JS

  5. #5 Alon Levy
    November 28, 2006

    I doubt that the SA has a lobbyist, so it is not clear how they are pushing socially regressive policies.

    I didn’t provide the specific links because the previous post I’d written about the subject did. Quoting the article I cited in the earlier post,

    The Salvation Army, a Christian social services organization with an extensive network of facilities to feed, clothe and shelter the poor, would not be affected much in the short term by the president’s proposal on faith-based services. It already receives nearly $300 million a year in government money. But the report indicates the administration is eager to use the Salvation Army’s clout to pass the legislation, offering the charity something it wants in return.

    The Salvation Army projects spending $88,000 to $110,000 a month in its endeavor to boost Bush’s charitable choice effort. It has hired lobbying and strategy concerns to help.

  6. #6 kehrsam
    November 29, 2006

    I stand corrected on the lobbyist issue, thank you. They didn’t have any such presence when I worked on Capital Hill, but that’s been a few years.

    I would still suggest the SA is not essentially a political organization. To the extent that they do take stands on policy issues, they are on the side of disaster preparedness, caring for the homeless, providing heating fuel for poor people, etc. Unless the argument is that they are thereby “enabling” the existing order of things I guess they are guilty, but this seems a strange way to view the world. Thanks for the discussion.

  7. #7 Julia
    November 29, 2006

    I think you have this partly right:

    In Bush’s US of A, it became a first-rate disaster, precisely because of the administration’s cronyism and faith-based disaster policies.

    Cronyism does seem to have been an important element in putting incompetent people in charge of disaster relief. The government functioned largely to prevent aid from going into New Orleans (in a misplaced effort to keep direct control over everything and everybody) and functioned very little to bring immediate aid of its own.

    But it was, in fact, primarily faith groups that provided food and shelter for days and even weeks after Katrina in most areas of the disaster. Here in the American South, in time of disaster, people tend to act voluntarily and generously in small groups to do what each group thinks it can do best. It’s a surprisingly effective system, one that was interrupted after Katrina by the government’s attempts to control who brought what aid where and when.

    I’ve been through numerous small hurricane events and two major ones, and contributed to aid in hurricane areas nearby. In our last major hurricane it was local people who cleared the roads. They moved in a small caravan of pick-up trucks, with workers walking ahead of the trucks, cutting trees and clearing debris so the truck could move forward a few more feet. The back of the trucks carried food and water and extra equipment and provided a place for exhausted workers to rotate resting. Almost as soon as it became possible to move around at all, nearby faith groups were coming in, bringing fresh water and food and strong backs to work. A group of total strangers from 150 miles away, showed up at the home of my elderly parents offering to work. They spent two days cutting branches and clearing away 22 large trees so that my parents could move about without danger in their own yard.

    It was precisely this kind of free movement and volunteer help, much of it faith-based, that the government interfered with in some areas after Katrina. If anything, in hurricane disasters at least, we need government aid, yes, but less government control, not more.

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