Should You Support The Salvation Army?

Is it worth it to you?

Is it worth it to you?

Our own president didn’t support gay marriage until a few years ago. So it’s possible that some people just need more time. 

If you’ve heard recent Internet claims that The Salvation Army doesn’t deserve your money, and you are now wondering whether or not to toss a few coins in the red can on your way to stock up on Christmas goodies, here’s a thought experiment:

Let’s say you had a friend. You’ve known him since grade school. He helped you out with math homework in exchange for your insight into diagramming sentences (read: you swapped papers). You’re connected on Facebook and have an ongoing dispute over whether The Patriots are the best team ever, or if Tom Brady just gets a pass on deflated balls because of his good looks and work ethic.

Let’s call this friend Tony.

Growing up, Tony used the F-word. Not the four-letter one — the three letter one, because calling somebody gay used to be an insult. You told him to knock it off. He did (around you). But around other punks on the playground, Tony sometimes used that F-word, and it made you angry.

Now, Tony is grown up, and has some kids of his own, and at a recent park playdate, an older kid called another boy the F-word, and Tony told him to knock it off.

You tell Tony how happy you are that he’s come this far, and he shrugs and says kids say dumb things, and that’s that, but you have to lay down the law with the F-word.

But he still thinks a man should marry a woman. Nothing against homosexuals, he says. Tony’s a Catholic, and that’s the teaching, and that’s what he believes.

Now. Imagine that Tony prints up a bunch of cloth grocery bags, with a list of grocery items on the side, and asks his friends and family to go the store and fill it up with the staples printed on the bag. Because Tony is going to load up these bags of food in his car, drive around town, and hand them out to every homeless person he sees.

You ask: Tony, are you going to ask people if they’ve been looking for work?

Tony says no.

You ask: Tony, are you going to ask them if they’re on drugs?

Tony says no.

You ask: Tony, are you going to ask them if they’re straight?

Tony says no.

You say OK then, and you buy a bag of groceries, and then you drive around the city and watch Tony hand the bags out, indiscriminately, smiling at everyone. No questions asked.

If this scenario seems plausible to you, then go ahead and support The Salvation Army.

But if you can’t imagine being friends with anyone who doesn’t believe in gay marriage, then here are some things that are worth considering.

Our own president didn’t support gay marriage until a few years ago. So it’s possible that some people just need more time. Of course, it’s definitely possible that many people will never get there.  

Does that negate every good act they do?

If an organization does not officially condone gay marriage, does that make the food and shelter they offer to everyone in need any less beneficial?

I can’t answer that question for you. What I can say is that humans — by nature — are often blind to their own biases. Myself included, and yes, probably you included, too.

We can’t help it. It comes with the being human package.

The Salvation Army does a tremendous amount of good in the world, and they are hardly on the forefront of attempts to shut down LGBT rights. If their official religious world view clashes with modernity, then it’s up to you to decide if that overrides their efforts to help out the poor in your community.

And I’d encourage anyone interested to read The Salvation Army’s official LGBT statement here

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