I’m a Christmas kind of guy.
I love the season! Snow, tinsel, lights, trees. All the traditions make me feel warm and happy. Love, family, common humanity, charity — all these are elements of Christmas for me. The sound of bells really lights up my Christmas spirit.
I used to love the sounds of Salvation Army bell ringers, and I’d be happy to throw money into their kettles when I was out indulging in commercial cheer. I assumed I was helping people in need.
I don’t donate anymore, and I’d like to ask you to stop too —
Did you know that when you give money to the Salvation Army, you’re giving money to a church? Did you know that the Church is viciously homophobic and transphobic, fighting all over the world for the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people?
Did you know that they’re so intent on discrimination that they literally let LGBTQ people die rather than provide equal services to them?
I’m writing this article today because the Church has recently posted a section on its web site explaining how they serve LGBTQ communities. It’s part of a coordinated public relations whitewash to escape the consequences of their discrimination. The section is misleading at best. It probably doesn’t contain any outright lies, but it withholds tons of tragic truth.
What Salvation Army thinks about LGBTQ people, in their own words —
Scripture opposes homosexual practices by direct comment and also by clearly implied disapproval. The Bible treats such practices as self-evidently abnormal. … Attempts to establish or promote such relationships as viable alternatives to heterosexually-based family life do not conform to God’s will for society.
That’s just the beginning, horrifying as it is. Branding us as “abnormal” and insisting that we don’t form loving relationships informs all their behavior.
The Salvation Army’s anti-LGBTQ history is long and deadly —
They’ve lobbied all over the world, including in Scotland, the United States, and New Zealand, for the political curtailment of equal rights for queer people. They’ve discriminated against their own employees, and they’ve allowed LGBTQ people to die rather than provide equal services.
- In the US, the Church lobbies hard to shut down anti-discrimination laws. On their website, they claim to abide by such laws, but they don’t mention that they often do so by shutting down services in areas where equal-rights mandates apply.
- In Scotland, the Church recently fought to keep references to LGBTQ people out of school curricula.
- In New Zealand, the Church led efforts to keep sexual relations between adult men a criminal offense.
- The Church promoted the debunked and dangerous practice of conversion therapy for years on its websites all over the world, featuring links to “ex-gay” programs. While the links began to be removed in 2013, the Church still privately refers young people to such toxic “therapy.”
- In the US, the Church fought for the right to withhold health-care coverage to same-sex spouses of their employees.
- The Church has a long history of firing employees upon discovering that they are lesbian, gay, or transgender.
- In 2016, the Church refused to back a Safe Schools initiative to combat anti-LGBTI bullying, characterizing it as “toxic” and “pro-homosexual.”
- In just one example of many, the Church let trans woman Jennifer Gale freeze to death outside one of their homeless shelters rather than shelter her with other women.
- While the Church touts the tiny number of dedicated shelters they’ve opened for LGBTQ people, they fail to mention that they don’t provide equal services to LGBTQ people in their other shelters.
- The Church was caught in a sting operation in New York City in 2017, subjecting transgender people to humiliating physical examinations and discrimination in housing at a substance-abuse treatment center — in violation of their public service contracts.
That’s a mere beginning. I plucked a few pieces of low-hanging fruit for this story. I could fill pages with similar examples. I think that’s enough for now. It’s enough for me to know I can’t donate.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without charity —
I can’t imagine not donating to people in need. During the holiday season, I think that many of us feel particularly driven to be charitable. Want some alternatives?
Why not try one of these non-religious, pro-LGBTQ charities?
- Foundation Beyond Belief — Unites the humanist community in volunteer and charitable efforts, and advocates for compassionate action throughout the world.
- The Sylvia Rivera Law Project — Works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence.
- Trans Lifeline — A national trans-led organization dedicated to improving the quality of trans lives by responding to the critical needs of our community with direct service, material support, advocacy, and education. Our vision is to fight the epidemic of trans suicide and improve overall life-outcomes of trans people by facilitating justice-oriented, collective community aid.
- Housing Works — Fights for funding and legislation to ensure that all people living with HIV/AIDS have access to quality housing, healthcare, HIV prevention, and treatment, among other lifesaving services.
- National Center for Transgender Equality — Advocates to change policies and society to increase understanding and acceptance of transgender people. In the nation’s capital and throughout the country, NCTE works to replace disrespect, discrimination, and violence with empathy, opportunity, and justice.
- The Trevor Project — If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the TrevorLifeline now at 1–866–488–7386.
- GLSEN — Championing LGBTQ issues in K-12 education since 1990.
- Your local LGBTQ center — Find it here.
I often write that religion is no excuse for homophobia.
I hope that can extend to faith being no excuse to give money to a virulently homophobic church that’s trying to whitewash its harmful and inhumane beliefs. Will you join me this holiday season in giving to different charities?