Think Twice About Giving to the Salvation Army Bell Ringers

During the holiday season, the Salvation Army bell ringers are out in droves. You may know that the change you throw into their buckets will go to assisting many of the hungry and/or homeless folks in Portland this winter, but what you might not know is that none of those folks will be queer. The Salvation Army, an evangelical Christian charity, is actively homophobic and discriminatory toward LGBTQ people who seek their services, as well as our community as a whole. For these reasons, I urge you not to donate to them.

On their website, The Salvation Army speaks to the “standards and principles,” which all members are encouraged to review and reaffirm. Among a slew of position statements, there is one entitled  “homosexuality”, which explains that “sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage.” They go on to speak about how homosexuality is not “blameworthy in itself,” but that gay people should act “responsibly” by not acting upon our feelings. They explain, “The Salvation Army believes that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life.”

Not only does the Salvation Army deny services to sexually queer people unless they renounce their sexuality and/or their relationship, but they also actively support the lobbying of anti-gay legislature. Thus, that money you put in their bucket? It is both not going to help gay and lesbian people in need of charity this winter, and also going to help fund the support of homophobic policy. For example, in 2001, the Salvation Army lobbied the Bush administration to deny grant funding to any state that had an LGBT anti-discrimination policy in place. In addition, they lobbied the administration to allow what the White House Press Secretary explained was “regulation sought by the church to protect the right of taxpayer-funded religious organizations to discriminate against homosexuals.” You can find more information on the anti-gay lobbying efforts of the Salvation Army on Bilerico, or in this informative video by Zinnia Jones calling for a boycott of the charity.

I hope that this information has awoken a passionate distaste for and an active frustration with the Salvation Army within you. I hope that you reconsider dropping a few bucks in that red bucket from here on out. I hope that you spread the word, and educate your family and friends about the hateful practices of the charity. I do not, however, hope that you log off qPDX, head to the nearest Fred Meyer, and start berating the bell ringer stationed outside. It is the policies of the larger Salvation Army institution that we should all have issue with, not the individual ringing the bell who needs a job in this jobless city of ours. Instead of harassing bell ringers, I hope that you will give money to one or many of the great charities out there that don’t discriminate based on sexuality.

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