An angel doesn’t get its wings.

Father was walking out of a store earlier today when the following conversation ensued with the Salvation Army bell-ringer.

BELL-RINGER:  Merry Christmas!

DAD:  Happy holidays!

BELL-RINGER:  I’ll make you a deal.  Make a donation and I’ll let you stand here and ring the bell.  Y’know, I’ve been doing this since before you were this tall, and every time someone has donated an angel gets its wings.  Every time, I guarantee it.

DAD:  *slow turn around*  Is that a fact?  Y’know, I read the Salvation Army’s website and they use some of this money to lobby against LGBT rights.  I’ll make my donations to groups that treat people equally.



BELL-RINGER:  Merry Christmas.

DAD:  Happy holidays.

And the award for poking the wrong hornet’s nest goes to that guy.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • iknklast

    Good for your dad! I quit giving to the Salvation Army years ago. It sort of makes my husband uncomfortable, because they station themselves in such a way that everyone in this small town can see you not donating, but if they ever ask me, I tell them why. One of these days, I’ll probably lose my job…oh, well, I can’t think of a better reason to lose it (besides, the lawsuit would make me well off enough to retire early and enjoy life.)

  • Holly


  • otocump

    Had a case where I was ‘pestered’ to donate like your dad was. I very deliberately pulled out a 20 from my wallet and stuffed it into my friends jacket pocket, looked the bell ringer in the eye and said ‘She’s gay’ with a head-nod and walked away. She couldn’t stop laughing. The bell ringer guy didn’t start ringing again for a few minutes, but I couldn’t turn around to see the look on his face as we walked off.

  • Angie

    Great story! I haven’t given them a penny for years either. Guilt from those types doesn’t work on me anymore ;)

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    My mother got a hate on for the SA over 40 years ago and refused to support them. She took in a niece who got pregnant while unmarried and had to leave home and her small town. The SA helped out unmarried mothers at that time, but my Mom says it was very little and offered in a soured and judgmental way. (I suspect she meant the aid came with pious lectures on the sinfulness of getting pregnant without a husband.) Donate to a secular charity, folks!

    • Steve

      They aren’t even a religious charity. The SA is literally a church

  • MargueriteF

    Oddly, when I went to look at the SA’s position paper on homosexuality, it said “under review.” Are they really rethinking their position, or is this just a cynical way of removing a controversial position from their website during the season when they’re collecting the most money?

  • Silent Service


  • Heather

    When I was little, I thought the SA was the greatest thing in the world because that’s what my family had told me. I was so proud as a kid to be able to ring the bell. Up until this year I also bought presents for a kid or two on their trees with the tags, but this year I bought presents for a couple kids at Boys and Girls Town (I haven’t heard anything about their religious/political affiliations).

  • John Horstman

    Ugh, I somehow got on a mailing list (or several) for Christian charities (including the salvation army; I can ask them to pray on my behalf as well, as evidenced by the handy section of the donation form – I wonder what the follow-through on that is; apparently we’re even contracting prayer these days – in this fast-paced marketplace, who has the time, amirite?) and have been getting a bunch of paper spam from them. I send notes back asking them to remove me from their lists, because I am an atheist and there is no chance that I will donate to an organization that engages in LGBT discrimination or proselytizing, so the letter and its transportation are a waste of dwindling natural resources. I don’t know whether they actually do so, but it’s worth a shot.

    • Rob

      You could always file form 1500 with the post office if they don’t stop.

  • Pingback: Agatha defends the Salvation Army.()

  • emptyknight

    At least where I live (Fort Worth, TX) Child Protective Services puts out a list of children in foster care/bad home situations that you can sponsor for holiday present-giving without having to deal with the Salvation Army. One of my coworkers gets a list of 10 or 15 kiddos every year and we all get our families and friends to pitch in and we go clean some mega-store out of bicycles and tricycles and clothes. My lack of religious beliefs aside, I’m not going to make some 5 year old in foster care miss out on presents on top of everything else going wrong in their life, and it’s an opportunity to pitch in and help the foster families. And no having to deal with or support a group who work hard to make my orientation equal second class status.

    • Rory

      The way I look at it, and I’ll admit it may not be a great mindset, is that a religious charity may be able to take a cash donation and do bad things with it, but they can’t really take a purchased gift and do bad things with it. By this logic I justify participating in programs where gifts for needy kids are collected and distributed by churches or other groups with religious affiliation. I’d still prefer a secular organization when one is available, but I consider this an acceptable substitute.

  • Jaime

    I didn’t know that the SA supported discriminatory practices. Thanks for posting this.