Next time you go to the grocery store or some other place which has the Salvation Army out front with its bell and its bucket, there are two, not one, but two things you should do. The first thing you should do is to walk past the bucket without putting any money in. I don’t recommend being mean to the person ringing the bell, even though they represent evil (see below). They probably just don’t know they represent evil. Personally, I just don’t pay any attention to them. If the person asks how I am, I say “fine” which in Minnesota means “Kiss my ass” deniably.
The second thing you should do is to march over to the customer service desk and say something to the effect of “I don’t like the idea of having an intolerant evangelical organization soliciting me for money every time I want to buy a gallon of milk. I may need to look for a grocery store that does not have that feature,” and then walk away smugly.Not all organizations allow the Salvation Army to bother customers out in front. I’m pretty sure that in Minnesota, Target does not. Target has a grocery store. With milk. So my threat is not without substance.
Many people freely give money and stuff to charities no matter what the charity’s philosophy or other connections because they figure that the charity is doing good work anyway and the details don’t matter, bla bla bla. But even if the charity gives all the cash it gets in a particular fund drive, such as the Salvation Army’s bell ringing hoard saturation approach, to feed and clothe poor people, charities and churches also use their “good works” to gain social and political power and credibility, and from that perspective, they may carry out acts you wouldn’t want to contribute towards, acts allowed and advanced in part by that dollar you dropped in the kettle.
In the case of the Salvation Army, it may be worse than average. Some of the “charitable acts” of this organization are biased. First you have to understand that the Salvation Army works in units (like any good army) that operate somewhat independently. Personally, I think this is a strategy to allow the national (or international) form of the organization to not explicitly state or support policy that is in fact mostly carried out on the ground. Two years ago it was discovered that some (many?) local Salvation Army groups were tossing donated toys of the Harry Potter theme in the dumpster instead of giving them to kids, because they regarded Harry Potter Satanic. One might think that it is their choice to give or not give a toy to some kid, but this could be a toy YOU decided should be given to some kid for the holidays but then THEY, the Salvation Army, overruled you using crazy paranoid irrational sky daddy logic. That was probably not your hope or intention when you dropped a handful of toys off at the Salvation Army.
There is evidence that shelter and food provided to the homeless is withheld unless the potential recipients adhere to the Army’s belief system regarding relationships and sexuality. I don’t know of any specific examples in my area of gay or lesbian clients being turned away, but the belief system of the Salvation Army on Teh Gay is among the most extreme you will find among evangelical groups. There is a biblical passage referred to in a key Army document that refers to how homosexuals need to die. When asked about this, a senior Australian Salvation Army official confirmed:
So, if you are gay, and you need food and shelter, and the only option is the Salvation Army, and you go there, and they figure out you are gay, the people who work there probably won’t kill you, but they will know that you should die. Have a nice dinner and sleep well, gay homeless person! But do try to get a cot near the wall and put some empty tin cans around for anyone who approaches you during the night to tip over. Just in case.
Asked whether the Salvation Army took the wording literally, i.e. that practising homosexuals should be put to death, the Major Craibe replied in the affirmative. Truth Wins Out transcribed the resulting discussion
CRAIBE: Well, that’s a part of our belief system.
RYAN (cutting in): So we should die.
CRAIBE: You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief.
RYAN: Wow. So we should die.
They then discussed the handbook’s section on sin (pages 61-63), which cites the same passage from Romans.
RYAN: … that you’re proposing in your religious doctrine and the way that you train — this is part of your training of your soldiers — that because we’re gay, that — we must die. If you go to Romans, book 1, 18-32, it’s all there, mate. I mean, how can you stand by that? How is that Christian?
CRAIBE: Well, well, because that is part of our Christian doctrine –
RYAN (interrupting): But how is that Christian? Shouldn’t it be about love?
CRAIBE: — that’s our understanding of that. Well, the love that we would show is about that: consideration for all human beings to come to know salvation –
RYAN: Or die. . .
CRAIBE: Well, yes.
Bill Browning enumerates a number of political actions taken by the Salvation Army in the US and elsewhere. You know about “faith based initiatives” and you know about attempts by religious organizations to relieve themselves of the requirement to not discriminate against gays, lesbians, or other undesirables in employment, and so on. That, dear reader, is the Salvation Army doing that. Other churches as well, but the Army is a major mover and shaker in the effort to meld church into state and produce a non-secular, Christian evangelical society. If you are a secularist of any kind, when you throw money into that kettle, you are cutting your own throat. That is no way to run a war on Christmas, people!