Rochester, N.Y.-- While I sincerely appreciate the sentiment behind The Salvation Army's Red Kettle bell campaign, now more than ever it is incumbent on this organization to come perfectly clean with the American public.
Just recently at Eastview Mall in Victor, N.Y., some drunken idiot spit on a bell ringer volunteer—which should curl the toes of any right-minded person. And, of course, the local media picked up this story and ran with it. It has been the talk of many Facebook posts and water cooler moments. Moreover, the Salvation Army’s media pros immediately sprang into action and begged local news affiliates to keep this story alive for a few more days— with the hope that it would drive up donations. But it's what they don't want you to know that bothers them the most. Think I’m being cynical? Hear me out.
You would have to be living under a rock not to know that The Salvation Army has a long history of lobbying lawmakers who actively discriminate against gays and lesbians. While you might think you're helping the less fortunate by dropping a few dollars in the bright red buckets, not everyone benefits from your donations and a ton of their money goes to “administrative costs.” Suffice it to say, everyone contemplating donating to The Salvation Army should know they use selective interpretation of Biblical verses to promote discrimination against LGBT people in employment benefits and leadership positions within the organization itself. And, they are also beneficiaries of other financial incentives courtesy of our public tax dollars.
If you look closely to their constitutional documents, you will find out that the group's position statements reveal a somewhat rigid outlook on all equality issues. "Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex," one statement reads. "The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage."
And to prove my point, in 2004 the Salvation Army threatened to close all their soup kitchens for the homeless in New York to protest the city's decision to require vendors and charities doing business with the city to adhere to the state’s civil rights laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Hypothetically, if a racist organization was trying to collect money with the message that some of the money was going towards ministry, but more often the bulk of it was paying for the salaries of top administrators and lobbyists to promote anti-equality legislation, would you second guess dropping a dime on them? That’s why they also hire real pros to spin the media message often teasing the public that they are not even near their goal with the hope you will donate to them without questioning their belief systems.
So, if you are in a charitable mood, why not donate to the American Red Cross instead? —Right now, there are tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters struggling to make ends meet while dealing with the aftermath of super storm Hurricane Sandy and they could really use your support. I’m just sayin.
This commentary does not reflect the views of CSEA as an organization.