It’d be my guess that given the overlap between the skepticism and atheism camps, a lot of our readers are already going to have a few reservations about the Salvation Army, and whether or not they should throw them a little change, or if perhaps their money could be better used elsewhere.
But contrary to certain stereotypes, we are not, as a community, a bunch of heartless meanies with no standard of morality who don’t have any interest in charity. I find, as a general thing, that skeptics are an enormously compassionate bunch who are consistently willing to give of their time, money, energy and resources to worthy causes and things that benefit the greater good. As such, maybe we could overlook the Christian ethos of the SA and focus on how their good outweighs their problematic beliefs, and find it in our hearts to spare a little extra this year. But does the good they do outweigh the problematic beliefs?
There’s been a fair bit of hub-bub (I love that word) brewing out in Facebook and the blogosphere lately about the Salvation Army’s anti-LGBT practices. A Facebook page has been started recommending a widespread boycott. It’s been covered on MSNBC, in the Chicagoist, on the Bilerico Project, and many other places.
The stories generally concern the fact that the Salvation Army has a wide and noticeable history of financing and supporting anti-LGBT legislation, such as opposing marriage equality. Is that where you want your pocket money going… to defense of marriage lobbyists? They also have overtly discriminatory hiring practices, refusing to allow LGBT individuals to become “soldiers”. I thought DADT had been repealed? And although they claim their charity work and services are available to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise. I even read one story about a homeless gay couple who were turned away unless they agreed to break up. Can you imagine the mentality of that? “Unless these two individuals publicly renounce their love for one another, in front of me, I’m going to force them to sleep out on the cold streets.”
Their own claims pay lip service to being supportive of LGBT individuals, but their actions are directly contradictory. What counts is not saying “I love gay, lesbian, bi and trans people!”, what counts is treating us in a fair and respectful way.
There are numerous other large, successful charity organizations that do not have any history of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. The Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Habitat For Humanity, Goodwill and so on. Perhaps consider giving elsewhere this year?
But if you’re absolutely dead set on giving to the those who “do the most good”, the guys with the not in the slightest bit annoying jingle bells and red buckets, how about offering them one of these.