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You can ring my bellllllllllllll, ring my bell... 
26th-Nov-2005 10:35 am
Discrimination, faith-based style
Salvation Army Lobbies for Religious Discrimination

It’s almost time for those red kettles to go up in front of grocery stores across America, and all across America, people get all rosy cheeked just thinking about doing good… forgetting about all the organizations that do as much good without making such a big show about it… without thinking about where the money that goes into the red kettle really goes to.

Among other things, the money people give to the Salvation Army goes to pay the salaries of lobbyists in Washington D.C. What, oh what, do those Salvation Army lobbyists lobby for? The Salvation Army lobbies in favor of the political agenda of the Religious Right.

There’s the time, for example, when the Salvation Army leaders met behind closed doors with the Bush White House to come up with a strategy for passing a law that would allow government-funded groups to fire people for refusing to join the religions of their bosses. Convert and praise Jesus or lose your job, the Salvation Army law said. That was a practice that the Salvation Army was already engaging in, giving religious tests to employees and telling them to take a hike if the responses were not theologically correct, taking government money all the while. The Salvation Army spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of red kettle money on that political project alone.

What else does your red kettle donation pay for? Political organizing against same-sex marriage, for one thing. The Salvation Army uses its organization to promote opposition to equal marriage rights for same sex-sex couples. The web site of the Salvation Army states, “The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage.” Catch that other part too - the only good homosexual is a homosexual who decides not to have sex for the rest of his or her life.

There’s also the Salvation Army’s history of rescinding benefits to same-sex domestic partners. Said the Human Rights Campaign, “We’re talking about health care, about providing health benefits, and what the Salvation Army has decided to do is prevent certain families from getting health care, and that’s just mean.” Salvation Army supporters responded to Portland’s request that it adhere to the city’s ordinance requiring organizations receiving money from the city government to provide benefits to same-sex domestic partners by sending hate mail with messages such as “You are a sick person who doesn’t deserve to be mayor.” Compassion?

Still want to put that money in the red kettle?

Consider the Salvation Army’s decision to put its religion ahead of the needs of homeless people in Wisconsin. When the Janesville City Council asked the Salvation Army to stop trying to convert people to evangelical Christianity with government money provided through the city government, the Salvation Army said no. The Salvation Army decided that it was more important to keep trying to convert people to Christianity than to help people in need, so it decided to stop work on a homeless shelter until the local government relented and allowed proselytization with government funds. A spokesman said that stopping its religious activities as part of government-funded programs that it administrates would stop the Salvation Army from fulfilling its mission “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ”. The Salvation Army would let the homeless freeze outside in the Wisconsin winter weather rather than just stop telling people to worship Jesus.

Yes, government funds. The Salvation Army gets a huge amount of praise for helping people in need, but the truth is that a huge amount of the money that the Salvation Army spends comes directly from federal, state, and local government. We, the taxpayers of America, make the sacrifice, but the Salvation Army gets the credit with none of the oversight and accountability that ordinarily goes along with government programs. In 2005, for example, 95 percent of the Salvation Army’s budget for children services came from the federal government, and was used, among other things, to conduct an anti-gay witch hunt in which employees were told to look for signs of homosexual activity in their colleagues, and to expose those colleagues so that they could be fired.

The plain fact is that the Salvation Army would only conduct a tiny fraction of its charitable works if it did not receive billions of dollars of government money. Much of the red kettle money goes toward building and maintaining Salvation Army churches, like the ones Wrangell, Alaska; Griffin, Georgia; Thomasville, North Carolina; Gilroy, California; Kalispell, Montana; Fort Lauderdale, Florida and countless other places across the USA. When you throw your money into the red kettle, are you thinking about helping people in need or about maintaining the temple in Rochester, New York?

I’m not denying that the Salvation Army does some good things with its own resources, but most of the good work it does is with government resources that could just as easily go to other programs that don’t discriminate, don’t lobby the government, and don’t mix religion with social services. Let the Salvation Army support itself, and rely purely on private donations. If the Salvation Army wants to keep preaching a right wing agenda, then it’s long past time that it get off the government dole.

Well, you know me, not one to let things go right by me without offering my $.02. So how about a $3 bill instead?

I've made a full sheet of these things that you can download here and print out. Cut out the bills, fold them into quarters so the blank side doesn't show, and keep them on you. Give them out to friends and family, and whenever you go shopping slip one in the bellringer's kettle. Send them a message that they cannot have it both ways, and get out your frustration on that annoying goddamned bell ringing at the same time. All I ask is that you pass this along, please.

To link to this post in your own journal:
1. Right-click inside the text box below
2. Choose 'Select All'
3. Right-click again and choose 'Copy'
4. Paste into your own journal

26th-Nov-2005 03:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I posted it on my blog
1st-Dec-2005 05:28 pm (UTC)
I posted this on my blog and this is what someone had to say:

"those evil bastards at the salvation army!!! how dare they help all those hurricane katrina victims!!! what assholes!!!!


(pps i hope you get raped)"

From a Christian...you'd think whoever it was would have been a little more polite.
26th-Nov-2005 03:46 pm (UTC)
You know I love you and your mad photoshopping skillz, Jude, but don't you think claiming that the thing that only will restore the honour of the US currency system is a change in the discriminatory policies of the Salvation Army might be setting your sights a bit low?

That being said, the phrase 'Now, the president's faith-based initiative may be jammed up for months to come' is beautifully sweet to me. On the one hand, I do appreciate the efforts of faith-based organisations in the fields of social action and disaster relief, and can acknowledge that there is a definite need to coordinate the efforts of secular and faith-based organisations in order to achieve greater outcomes, particularly in times of crisis -- but on the other hand, any time this administration says the word 'faith' or anything like it, I get hives.
26th-Nov-2005 04:45 pm (UTC)
I don't think it is the only thing, certainly not - but it's a holiday tradition with me to share this. I used to send it out in emails, this way is better. This is case specific to the SA, in spite of the good that they do. Rather like the Red Cross accepting my monetary donations as a gay man but not my blood, but I'll still donate clothing and personal items to the SA and the RC. I think I get what you mean, though!
26th-Nov-2005 04:38 pm (UTC)
Mmmmm, counterfeiting, civil disobedience, and sticking it to the fundies - what's not to like? *eg*
27th-Nov-2006 04:39 am (UTC)
It's only counterfeiting if you pass it out with intent to defraud. If you're not negotiating it for value there's no crime.
26th-Nov-2005 04:45 pm (UTC)
They also:
* Discriminate against married women who work for them by giving the women's paychecks, bonuses, etc. to their husbands. Not to them, to their husbands only. They work things so that the women have no insurance that doesn't come through their husbands, no recorded contributions to Social Security despite being wage-earners, no provable income or employment record if they wanted to work elsewhere, nothing.
* Discriminate in employment practices against anyone who, for whatever reason, won't or can't sign onto their statement of Christian principles: this includes Jewish people who have worked for them for many years, at least one of whom was fired for not being a Christian.

Salvation Army discrimination hurts everyone and affects, potentially, far more of the population than the GLBT community; protesting discrimination against the GLBT community is extremely important, but if people don't want to make a stink for that reason, above are a couple more.

I'll be linking, of course.
26th-Nov-2005 05:32 pm (UTC)
The second doesn't surprise me -- that's common with religious groups in general, even with laypeople -- but the first does, and in a BIG way; I've never heard of *any* company or organization doing something like that. I'm not even sure how it's possible, and I'm curious as to why labor groups, the IRS and SSA, etc. haven't picked up on it...
26th-Nov-2005 05:24 pm (UTC)
This doesn't surprise me in the least -- the Salvation Army has been one of *THE* most outspoken organizations, almost on par with the likes of Dobson/FotF, when it comes to advocating support for faith-based programs and support for policies that permit discrimination by such programs. Besides, the whole "army" aspect of the SA bothers me, probably because it's a bit too reminiscent of the "navy" structure in $cientology (Sea Org). Now if only more stores would take the lead of Target and Best Buy and ban the damn bell-ringers...
26th-Nov-2005 05:52 pm (UTC)
i cant beliiieve they can get away with that....

could consider doing that here as well..
can you do a brit fiver for me?


that would be awesome
3rd-Dec-2007 10:29 am (UTC)
Actually, with the current exchange rate, the $3 here would be one pound fifty :)
26th-Nov-2005 05:55 pm (UTC)
I've linked this from my journal, also.
26th-Nov-2005 06:32 pm (UTC)
Great article, but you realize that it's from 2001? Not that much has changed, but I figured you might want to point that out.
27th-Nov-2006 08:18 pm (UTC)
They had the statistics for the SA's 2005 budget all the way back in 2001? I'm impressed. Can they pick lottery numbers for me also?
.pdf link works - Anonymous - Expand
26th-Nov-2005 06:40 pm (UTC)
Finally. I have a good reason to kick the Santa ringing the bell in front of the Target, square in the balls.
27th-Nov-2005 02:02 am (UTC)
A LOT of the bell-ringers are unpaid volunteers, at least some of whom are not aware of the SA's discriminatory policies. Anyone had kicked me a few years ago when I was ringing for them, I'd have punched back.
26th-Nov-2005 06:54 pm (UTC)
I'd be happy to link this to my journal.

Over two years we begged every social service agency for help because of my medical bills. I actually called Bush's campaign office and was told by a cold heaarted bitch to "contact the local churches." "President Bush doesn't help citizens out of his own pocket." She stated. But he stepped up for a PR shot to donate $10,000 to the tsunami relief efforts. Like most other politicians and celebrities they only help when they can get a tax write off or some free PR out of it.

They wanted us to call churches which we do not belong to, and even after breaking down out of desperation and calling were told they were out of funds.

But the Salvation Army was the worst. After Larry was outsourced in June (a month where I had to make 3 trips to Mayo Clinic)he called the SA and asked if they would help us. He was told yes, that he should bring paperwork and come to town. Rockford is 25 miles away and gas was over $3.00 a gallon then. He got there only to be told they would only be able to give him $5.00 towards food. Which in the end they did not even give him and it cost more in gas to get there than the $5.00 they promised him.

Later in the summer he was told to try again at the SA. Desperate, his tail between his legs, my proud husband who had always supported his family dragged himself back up to the SA office dreading the same horrid humilating treatment he knew he was going to get, but he went to try to get us some help. He started filling out all the paperwork and when it gets to which county you reside in he said Ogle. The b.... taking the info looked at him with a smile no less, thrilled it seemed to tell him they couldn't help him, he'd have to get help in Ogle County and they were in Winnebago. He said he felt she couldn't shove him out the door fast enough. So not just a wasted trip but my husband came out of there feeling like the scum of the earth.

They suggested calling someone in Ogle County for help. It just so happened the woman was someone I knew and she gave us $50 towards our $400 electric bill and $50 towards our gas bill.That was it.

Later we were told the SA only helps people once in a lifetime. It was the first and only help we had from any "social support agencies."
Believe me when I say, I will NEVER give any organized religion or social agency money again.

Not only to they discriminiate (and some of what I've read on here makes me physically ill) but they don't get the donated money to people who need it. It goes to operating expenses and educational funding.

Yeah right, lining pockets of people who can't even keep track of where billions of dollars of donated money has gone and when people turn to them for help they are made to feel as though the lowest of the low. Even when they are in a position of needing help through no fault of their own.

In fact much of the reason people need help is because good paying jobs are being sent overseas and companies here are no longer giving their employees insurance or other benefits which cause employees to have to pay for insurance premiums out of $7 to 9 an hour jobs, butthese companies manage to give their CEO's $7+ million dollar salaries plus bonus'.

So, in conclusion I will post this on my journal and I don't get out much but you can bet I'll be putting these bills in their buckets and will also be writing to their corporate offices about my views on all I have read posted on here.

Personally I think it's about time churches get taxed like every other business because that is what the majority of the ones I've seen have become.Big businesses with lots of political clout with no seperation of church and state. In fact the churches are running the government lately. Like the mega churches with 20,000 members. You know they are raking in money hand over fist and where does it go? Not to the poor, disabled, or elderly for sure. And now I know it doesn't get to the gay community either.

I hope this mess along with the other long line of Bush screw ups pulls down this whole church based political party system that they pour the millions they get from the Sunday collection plate into politics, because frankly I'm sick of so-called compassionate "christians" running the government.

26th-Nov-2005 08:21 pm (UTC)
I followed a link from ijk. I once worked for the TSA as a civilian employee and, despite the flaws I noted then, have supported them for the good work that they do. This latest turn to the right, because they've gotten worse in the past 10 years, is too much.
26th-Nov-2005 11:02 pm (UTC)
thanks so much for reposting this baby, jude. i got so much glee out of the holiday spirit with this last year that i believe i'll do it all over again! i LOVE the way they thank you when they think you're actually giving them money. asshats.
27th-Nov-2005 02:15 am (UTC)
Um ... I was one of those "asshats" years ago, thank you. I volunteered my time because at the time I thought it was a worthy organization that used most of its money for actual work rather than administration salaries, and that they didn't discrminate with who they helped.

Be careful of who you call names - if you don't like the SA, that's one thing, but don't automatically assume anyone affiliated with it in any way is equally small-minded or benefiting from its policies. I don't like the Red Cross, but I've known people who volunteered with them whose hearts were in the right place at the time they did it, and I never thought ill of them.
27th-Nov-2005 12:00 am (UTC)
*gasp* you are my new hero...the worst job i ever had was being a bellringer for the SA during the christmas of 1997, the SA members were bigotted, rude and just complete clueless assholes. i will be more than happy to screw them out of cash this year...besides i know that most of the ringers i worked with pocketed at least some of the money....except me...cause i was a stupid do-gooder for those no-gooders.
27th-Nov-2005 02:12 am (UTC)
I always wondered if there were bell-ringers who took some of the money. I rang the bell for several years and never kept a penny; in fact, I would put some of my own dollars in there when I had them. *headshake*

And as for the people on this post making comments about kicking the bell-ringers, calling them assholes, etc. ... I don't think that's the solution at all. I know when I was doing it, I thought I was doing a Good Thing and was being paid nothing for it. I would have had no problem with someone putting in fake dollars or telling me they disagreed with SA's aims when I was ringing years ago, but I would have taken GREAT exception with being assaulted or cursed at or being treated impolitely when I did not treat passersby that way; in fact, I made an effort to say hello to each person whether they gave money or not (and I NEVER asked anyone to put money in; I only thanked them if they did so).
27th-Nov-2005 12:41 am (UTC)
Thanks - I have posted this to my journal too!
27th-Nov-2005 01:37 am (UTC)
Well since mankind created religion I say it is flawed. And to use that as a means to discriminate is a pathetic belief. Religion and politics should be kept seperate.
27th-Nov-2005 10:20 pm (UTC)
They also discriminate against non-Christians:
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