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Author Topic: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?  (Read 2989 times)

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Offline NoelleTopic starter

Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« on: December 14, 2010, 07:21:16 PM »
The original article.

Quote
Across the Chicago area, the ubiquitous red kettles are a little lighter than they were this time last year.

The Salvation Army reports that its Chicago-area division has brought in $4.1 million thus far through its Red Kettle Campaign, down from $4.6 million by this time last year. That marks a 13 percent decrease.

Meanwhile, food requests at the Salvation Army are up somewhere between 200 and 400 percent in the Chicago area, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report. Roughly 70 percent of the Salvation Army's funding comes from the red kettles.

Dee McKinsey, a spokeswoman for the charity, told the Associated Press that recent bad weather in the area, coupled with an economic downturn, are responsible for the drop-offs.

But others suggest that greater public awareness of some of the Salvation Army's policies could be cutting into the charity's take this winter.

"You can say you are the nicest Christian organization in the world, but if you are sending a message that some people are more equal than others--that is not acceptable," activist Andy Thayer told Chicagoist in November.

Thayer, the co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, is referring to the Salvation Army's policies toward homosexuality. "Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex," the Salvation Army's website reads. While the group "does not consider same-sex orientation blameworthy in itself," it suggests that gay followers "embrace celibacy as a way of life."
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The message cites Leviticus 18:22, among other passages, which in the King James Bible refers to homosexuality as "abomination."

"The Salvation Army is in the closet about these policies," Thayer told Chicagoist.

A spokesperson from the organization replied to Chicagoist, saying the positions are "intended for our church members or those who are interested in our church," and that the charity provides its services to all those in need, gay and straight alike.

Still, a column in last year's San Francisco Chronicle pointed out that an active social media campaign opposing the Salvation Army's anti-gay policies drove donations down sharply that year, in San Francisco and nation-wide.

If the recent numbers from Chicago are any indication, grass-roots efforts like Thayer's and countless others may be having a similar impact in 2010.

Thayer suggests a holiday donation to non-discriminating organizations like the Howard Brown Health Center, one of the nation's largest LGBT healthcare centers, or the American Red Cross, which has fought for years against a ban on gay men giving blood.


Something that makes me dubious about this article is that it ignores any other possible reason for a sharp drop in donations and goes straight to its anti-gay stance as the probable cause. People have presumably known for awhile that the Salvation Army is a religious organization that happens to take a conservative stance on homosexuality (or, as the article states, acting on homosexuality), so why would this year suddenly be the banner year that a singular Salvation Army post in Chicago would suddenly drop due to this factor alone? Certainly the average financial well-being of the region's population has something to do with how charitable they can be, especially when the economy is still sluggish and unemployment is still an issue in many areas.

Regardless, this isn't to discredit any possible effect that boycott may have had on some of that decline, if not all of it. It's hard to say for sure either way. Social media is a great outlet for spreading the word on various issues and certainly there are a fair number of gay rights activists, especially in the San Francisco area, that could very well cause a decline when moved to action. I, for one, wasn't aware of their open stance on homosexuality -- just goes to show it pays to do a little research about an organization before you donate.

I think overall, if the article is correct, even a little bit, then the Salvation Army probably deserves the hits it takes over making their dissent known; if you're going to enter the political arena with your views (and why it was relevant for the SA to speak out against homosexuality is beyond me...), then your charity or business or whatever affiliation you're under deserves to lose the benefits of impartiality, especially with such polarizing issues. It's just a shame that the people who really benefit from the service the SA provides suffer the most from a drop in donations -- hopefully those who chose not to donate to them because of this at least put that money to use with another charity.

Offline Sure

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2010, 07:41:14 PM »
The Salvation Army is not just a charity. It is also a Church. They are an evangelical organization as well as a charitable one.

The Eleven Beliefs of the Salvation Army:
Quote
    1. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.
    2. We believe that there is only one God, who is infinitely perfect, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and who is the only proper object of religious worship.
    3. We believe that there are three persons in the Godhead – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, undivided in essence and co-equal in power and glory.
    4. We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ the divine and human natures are united, so that he is truly and properly God and truly and properly man.
    5. We believe that our first parents were created in a state of innocence, but by their disobedience they lost their purity and happiness, and that in consequence of their fall all men have become sinners, totally depraved and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.
    6. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has by his suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.
    7. We believe that repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, are necessary to salvation.
    8. We believe that we are justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that he that believeth hath the witness in himself.
    9. We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.
    10. We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    11. We believe in the immortality of the soul; in the resurrection of the body; in the general judgment at the end of the world; in the eternal happiness of the righteous; and in the endless punishment of the wicked.

I thought that was known...

Regardless, I do feel like this is just the newspaper going, 'Look, see those people who disagree with us? They're suffering for it! Ha! We are right." The majority of the article is about the Salvation Army's beliefs rather than any reason or studies or theories about the drop.

One thing I did learn: There're Health Centers for LGBT people exclusively?

Offline NoelleTopic starter

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2010, 08:47:35 PM »
I think you're mistaking what exactly is "well-known". I think a lot of people are aware that the Salvation Army is a religious organization, but not necessarily that they have taken an open stance against homosexuality -- certainly nowhere in those 11 beliefs does it talk about gays necessarily. A lot of churches either remain publicly impartial to the subject (not stating explicitly either way) or, especially recently, make it known that they welcome everybody regardless of orientation -- it especially surprises me because they're a charity and because they are susceptible to taking hits because of political issues like this, I would think they would want to remain as impartial as possible on the subject in order to secure the benefits of donations from every avenue.

You're right though, as I mentioned in my OP, there's really nothing substantial here that links the two together besides mere conjecture. No statistics, no research, nada. I also didn't realize there were LGBT-specialized health clinics, though I doubt that they're necessarily exclusive, probably just has staff that's more well-trained to handle issues pertaining especially to LGBT sexual issues and health.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2010, 08:56:10 PM »
Typically, my thoughts upon seeing the ubiquitous bell-ringers (or any other charity-based donation station, such as the Veterans' Poppies, the Shriners, or the Catholic Masons Knights of Columbus) is 'Do I have money to spare?' not 'What are the political beliefs of the people that run this?'

These days, I'd be more inclined to blame the same economy that's causing the drop in food-drive donations.


Offline Serephino

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2010, 10:18:27 PM »
I have actually read a few articles about this recently.  Through another group I found out about this website where you can print 'gay dollars' to put into the kettle that say something like this will only be a real dollar when the SA stops it's anti-gay policies.  There was also one about them throwing away any toys that are Harry Potter and Twilight because those things are evil.

I'm only seeing this now, so yes, it's probably a contributing factor, but probably not the only one.  I think it's stupid....  I didn't even know they were religious until I read those articles, but yes, some Christians can be bigots.  It's no huge secret.  Still, the money they collect in those kettles goes to help the needy in the spirit of Christmas, so I'm willing to overlook their religious beliefs. 

Offline NoelleTopic starter

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2010, 11:06:44 PM »
I feel about the same as you and Oniya. I think there's nothing wrong with politically conscious donations -- after all, it's your money, but I think ultimately, their beliefs about homosexuality are not a dealbreaker for me. Their efforts to help others are admirable and they do more good than harm, I think. As I said in the OP, if you don't choose to donate to the Salvation Army because of their negative view towards homosexuals, I do hope you take that money you would've otherwise given them and donate to another, similar charity instead of keeping it in your pocket because the bottom line is that there are people in desperate need who can suffer as a result of the Salvation Army going under.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2010, 11:12:40 PM »
When I first heard the rumors (about a month ago, incidentally) that the SA is anti-gay, I did some research m'self. After hunting down what seemed to be credible first-person accounts of being turned away because of being openly gay, I have chosen not to donate to the SA this year. I almost always put money in those kettles every time I go shopping. If I have a dollar, if I have a quarter, if I have a penny, I usually put them in there.

I have been putting that money aside in a special pocket in my wallet, and bringing it down the street to a local gay-friendly food bank instead. So while my own personal donations certainly don't account for a 13% decrease in SA intake, their stance on gays can't be discounted as a factor. It has been particularly aggressively disseminated this year, I think. I'm certainly not going to contribute to an organization that would turn me aside if I walked up hand in hand with my girlfriend.

Offline Sure

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2010, 11:22:41 PM »
I would think most Churches would have said something, whether you know about it is another matter. Not that one could expect you to know every Church's specific theology. Regardless, they're not against homosexuality per se, they 'just' believe that homosexuals should be celibate and do not recognize gay marriage.

Quote
I'm certainly not going to contribute to an organization that would turn me aside if I walked up hand in hand with my girlfriend.

They wouldn't turn you away if you were gay. Their stance is that homosexual sex is wrong, not that they will not help out homosexuals with their charity. They do not specifically help homosexuals, but there's never been a case of them refusing someone help on the basis of them being homosexual.

No issue is binary.

And I've not heard anything about the Salvation Army this year, so as to how wide it is... well, it hasn't reached me at least. Of course, I already knew their stance on gays.


Offline Trieste

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Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2010, 11:43:45 PM »
They are an activist group. They are discriminatory. They not only use their resources to help the poor but also to lobby against civil rights for gays. I choose not to donate to them.

They can have their beliefs all they want, but they cannot have my money, thank you very much.

Offline Sure

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2010, 12:43:59 AM »
I'm not sure what your definition is activist, but they don't lobby on the issue to my knowledge.

It's all fine if you want to keep your money because you disagree with them. But you justified it by saying they would not help gays, which is flatly false.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2010, 12:50:36 AM »
I'm not sure what your definition is activist, but they don't lobby on the issue to my knowledge.

It's all fine if you want to keep your money because you disagree with them. But you justified it by saying they would not help gays, which is flatly false.

Sure, your information is incorrect. You need to read further. While I'm about to head to bed and unwilling to dig up and link to the plethora of information on individual scandals, a good jumping off point can be found here. Now, your definition of discrimination may be different than mine, so I'll be explicit: threatening to close all their soup kitchens in NYC (and later San Francisco) because they don't want to extend medical benefits to same sex partners counts as discrimination as far as I am concerned. The fact that they made the threat in order to gain governmental leverage accounts to activism on their part, in my opinion.

Enjoy.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2010, 01:43:38 AM »
According to the wiki article though, the organization was threatening closure of their soup kitchens in response to a state law being passed that infringed on their civil rights as a religious organization.  So in effect they were fighting for their rights and were going to vacate a location that threatened to violate those rights.  That’s not really lobbying against something just because they stand up for themselves.  The Salvation Army also clarified that they were not discriminating in hiring practices, but wanted to make clear that they would not ordain homosexual religious figures and their benefits did not recognize gay couples.  Most insurance companies, at least in my experience, do not recognize same-sex couples.  I suppose that could be considered discrimination, but that would mean nearly any company or charity that receives money is making the same discriminatory practice.

Like Sure said, I would never tell you what to do with your money or which charity to sponsor.  At the same time the Salvation Army does help a lot of people and has been a consistent force to help the needy. 

As for the decrease in payments and donations, I would look more toward a down turned economy and high unemployment rate first.  I would even look at the increased number of online purchases and credit card purchases before pointing at finger at the religious beliefs they have held for years.

Offline Salamander

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Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2010, 06:38:34 AM »
Rather predictably, I would never give money to the Salvation Army. Their name says it all- they are a religious organization first and foremost, and secondarily an organization which helps the needy. There are plenty of secular organizations that help poor people, and which don't have the evangelical, homophobic agenda of the SA. They are worth supporting; in my opinion, the SA isn't.

Offline Serephino

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2010, 10:14:42 AM »
Here's an example of one of the articles I mentioned.

Quote
        Salvation Army Doesn't Want Your Black Magic Donations
  Friday December 10, 2010
  There's a big kerfluffle up in Calgary, Canada, where the Salvation Army   has been rejecting donations of certain toys for the holiday season,   saying that the items promote black magic and the occult. A Salvation   Army volunteer reports that workers have been instructed not to put   certain toys in the hampers that hold the donations for less fortunate   kids. Items like Harry Potter merchandise, or anything related to   vampires is off limits.
 
  A spokesman for the Salvation Army, which is a Christian-based agency,   says it "isn't appropriate for them to distribute toys they think   promote things like the occult, vampires or black magic." Keep in mind,   toy guns are okay.
 
  So, if you'd like to donate toys to an agency that will take anything   presented to them with good intentions, I'd recommend looking at other   charitable organizations in your area. In the US, the United States   Marine Corps sponsors an annual Toys for Tots campaign, many fire   departments also collect toys for needy kids, and local social service   and fostering agencies always need donations of new toys and games.   Check locally to see who needs help.
 
  Meanwhile, what's really sad about the whole Salvation Army story is   that the age group that would most appreciate those rejected items --   teens and middle-graders -- is the age group that traditionally is   harder to get donations for in the first place.


It doesn't say where the article came from, but these things seem to be popping up all over the place.  I haven't seen these before this year. 

Offline Oniya

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Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2010, 10:29:37 AM »
I believe this is the incident that is being referenced:

http://www.calgaryherald.com/life/Calgary+Salvation+Army+accept+Harry+Potter+Twilight+toys/3956330/story.html

(Just providing a source - the original title seemed to bring up mostly blogs and re-tweets)

Offline NoelleTopic starter

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2010, 11:20:54 AM »
In the defense of Salvation Army, seeing as they're a privately-run charity organization, it's fully within their rights to mandate what they will and will not accept. Charities mandate all the time the kinds of items they need the most -- granted this is nothing like specifying non-perishable food items or diapers and the like, but seeing as it's their time, volunteer work, and message they're getting out there, I think demanding that they accept whatever you give them isn't right, either. As Serephino's post points out, if you don't like the way it's run, then it's fully within your right and power to take your donation elsewhere -- certainly there's no lack of charities out there that could always use more.

Offline Serephino

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2010, 09:36:04 PM »
Yeah, I get asked to donate to charities a lot.  I usually do too. 

Offline Jude

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2010, 12:35:31 AM »
I can't believe this (but I do, I just find this incredible), their stated mission is:  "The advancement of the Christian religion as promulgated in the religious doctrines—which are professed, believed and taught by the Army and, pursuant there to, the advancement of education, the relief of poverty, and other charitable objects beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole."  So, the good stuff comes after the "advancement of the Christian religion" -- makes me wonder about their priorities and how they get off calling themselves a charity.

I'm certainly not donating to them anymore.

Offline Salamander

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Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2010, 05:19:49 AM »
Well, they are called the Salvation Army. Which is a bit of a giveaway.

They're a militantly evangelical organization that sees work with the poor and needy as being an effective means of spreading the gospel. And, to their credit, they don't pretend to be anything else.

Incidentally, if you're happy with supporting a militant evangelical group (I'm not), then they are a pretty good one to go for. If you look at their accounts, you'll find that their administrative costs are very low- much lower than most charitable organizations. So the vast bulk of your contribution would go to good works and evangelism rather than admin.

Offline NoelleTopic starter

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2010, 09:24:46 AM »
How exactly are they spreading their evangelism, though? Technically, if anyone is motivated by some personal thing, they could probably be said to trying to propagate their mission -- even the atheist group at my old university aims to do charitable work to spread the message that even heathens can be moral ;P Besides, doing charity work is pretty much found all throughout the Bible -- so really, any charity work they do is basically always going to be spreading the message of Christ/Christianity. I'm more interested in knowing what other actions they take to "advance" the religion and if those actions are harmful. Do they brand your forehead with the Jesus fish before you can accept what they give you?

I guess I have a hard time being too outraged by an organization that seems like it does far more good than harm. It would be nice if they were secular and non-political, but let's face it, they are the poster child for the majority of America that is Christian. It's easy for Christians to rally around other Christians, which is probably why you don't see more non-denominational/secular organizations with the same prominence and success they have.

As I said before, it would definitely be a shame to see them fall under without another charity of equal caliber to take its place because ultimately it's not just the loss of a religious-based charity, it's the loss of a precious resource for people in need, regardless of affiliation, and they are the bottom line.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #20 on: December 16, 2010, 09:29:29 AM »
The frustrating thing for me is that it's difficult to not support the organization but still support the bellringers. The bellringers themselves are not Salvation Army soldiers; they are local volunteers. My parents have done it, a couple of my friends have done it. Last year I was considering it, although I never could fit it into my finals schedule.

For the first while, it was always hard for me to smile and say "Merry Christmas" to the volunteers without feeling guilty or evangelical myself.

Offline Salamander

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Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2010, 11:03:04 AM »
From the SA's UK website:

Quote
Mission statement
The Salvation Army is a worldwide evangelical Christian Church and human service agency.
Its message is based on the Bible; its motivation is the love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.
Its mission is to proclaim his gospel, to persuade people of all ages to become his disciples and to engage in a programme of practical concern for the needs of humanity.
Its ministry is offered to all persons, regardless of race, creed, colour or gender.

An example of their evangelical activities:

Adult and Family Ministries

A complete list of their activities in the UK here.

As you can see from the link, much of what they do has an evangelical content, although equally there are things that they do that don't have such content. Basically, they're exactly what they claim to be in their mission statement.




Offline Jude

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #22 on: December 16, 2010, 12:05:53 PM »
I'm not offended by the fact that they are evangelical, I'm offended by the fact that they pass themselves off as a charity and not a church.  Saying "the word salvation is in their name so you should have known" is not fair because there are numerous Christian charities out there that are charities first and only.  The fact that there are so many people who are completely unaware that the Salvation Army is a church just speaks to the fact that they aren't being forthcoming about it, and instead project the charity portion of their organization.

Offline Salamander

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Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2010, 12:21:52 PM »
It's entirely possible that their UK and US operations are run slightly differently. I suspect that most people over here know that they're an evangelical group. From what the Americans are saying on this thread, that doesn't seem to be the case with their US operations.

Offline NoelleTopic starter

Re: Salvation Army's anti-gay stance to blame for drop in donations?
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2010, 02:18:36 PM »
The SA is actually legally registered as a church before a charity, I believe, at least from what I gathered on the Wikipedia article. It seems they've tried to use their church status to override discrimination laws (as it's been briefly discussed here; not giving benefits to gay couples, mostly, as well as not being obligated to ordain homosexuals), but otherwise I imagine they get pretty much the same tax benefits as a registered charity.

I guess I don't really see the difference on whether or not they're that vocal about their worship services and the like. What difference does it make if they're a Christian charity or a Christian charity and church? As Trieste pointed out, their volunteers aren't even necessarily a part of the church itself and I'm sure people of all kinds offer to help with the charity portion.