A reader left a comment on the post about why you shouldn’t support the Salvation Army. He wrote a personal story about his own experiences with the Salvation Army’s bigotry toward gay people and I’m moving it up here because it’s a story everyone should hear.
Back in my theist days in the mid to late 80s, I was a deacon at the Metropolitan Community Church in Tucson. MCC is an evangelical denomination that serves a mostly lesbian and gay demographic, and MCC-Tucson was, at the time, located downtown.
We occasionally got homeless people coming by the church in need of services; often, they were gay and knew that they could get help from us. We kept a list of service agencies in the area, and would refer people to where they could get the assistance they needed, such as food, shelter and clothes. On that list was a SA men’s shelter three blocks from the church.
Eventually, the Salvation Army learned that the community church down the street from them was run by and for *gasp* homosexuals, and that we welcomed people rather than condemned them. The Tucson commandery sent us a polite but pointed letter informing us that all of their shelters and other services have been instructed NOT to take our referrals. It seemed they preferred to have gay men sleeping on the streets where they might be assaulted, robbed, even freeze to death (Tucson is pretty high in the Rockies, and the very dry air means winter lows in the 20s were not uncommon) than emulate the Good Samaritan.
I haven’t donated to them, or made any recommendation for their services, since.
How in the world can those two views be reconciled? The people who work with the Salvation Army spend their time helping others, so it’s not like they lack compassion. That particular group spent their time and energy feeding and sheltering homeless people, so they know the need first hand. But they didn’t give a damn about those people if they might be gay. And they call gay people morally perverse? Look in the mirror.
I actually explained to a Salvation Army bell ringer this week why I wasn’t putting any money in their bucket. I do think the group does a lot of good and important work, but so do a lot of other groups. Faced with a choice of giving to a group that actively discriminates and one that doesn’t, I’ll choose the latter every time.