I won’t be donating any money to the Salvation Army this year (or any year for the foreseeable future). They are a religious group, with fittingly pernicious and bigoted beliefs. They describe openly on their website how they are against abortion, against homosexuality, against assisted dying, and more. Worse, these are not just the philosophical beliefs of an otherwise charitable organization. The Salvation Army attempts to effect real-world policy based on their religiously-inspired bigotry.
This article by Bil Browning points out just the ways in which the SA has acted (internationally!) to deny gays and lesbians their civil rights. Here’s one example:
Also in 2001, the evangelical charity actively lobbied to change how the Bush administration would distribute over $24 billion in grants and tax deductions by urging the White House deny funding to any cities or states that included LGBT non-discrimination laws. Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary, issued a statement saying the administration was denying a “regulation sought by the church to protect the right of taxpayer-funded religious organizations to discriminate against homosexuals.”
Not only does the Salvation Army lobby against gay rights, but if you donate to them, you’re helping to pay for that lobbying.
And the discrimination doesn’t stop at the level of political action. Even though the Salvation Army states that their services “are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation,” apparently that isn’t always true. According to Browning, the Salvation Army also discriminates in who they give aid to.
I’ve seen the discrimination the Salvation Army preaches first hand. When a former boyfriend and I were homeless, the Salvation Army insisted we break up before they’d offer assistance. We slept on the street instead and declined to break up as they demanded.
Admittedly, we don’t know how often this sort of thing happens. But the fact that it has happened at all is bad enough.
UPDATE: Here is another first-hand account of SA refusing aid to those who need it – this time on a larger scale.
So I do not plan on putting any money in the Salvation Army’s red kettles. If anyone’s looking for a charity to donate to that doesn’t practice bigotry, Browning provides a list. Phil Plait has also described a few of his favorite charities over at his blog.