Watermark tradition: Boycotting the bell-ringers

By : Jamie Hyman
Comments: 7

JamieHymanHeadshottIt’s that time of year again, when the incessant ringing of a bell greets every Publix shopper, accompanied by the sight of a Salvation Army bell-ringer. For the third year running, Watermark readers will quietly take a stand against the charitable organization’s anti-gay history, practices and attitude.

We are once again offering a mini-flyer stating your opposition to The Salvation Army’s anti-gay practices. If you are participating in the boycott but would like to let The Salvation Army know why, please download and print the “money” graphics on this page and when you encounter a bell-ringer, slip a flyer into their shiny red bucket in lieu of cash.
It’s interesting. Every few months, the story of a Salvation Army representative saying that gay people should be put to death makes the rounds on Facebook and other social media, and dozens of users treat it like it is brand new. Sadly, it is not, Watermark covered that story back in 2012, and the Salvation Army has a long and storied history of anti-gay policies.

Here’s a rundown of some of the Salvation Army’s other anti-gay actions:

  • In 2012, a Salvation Army media relations director stated that it is part of the group’s “belief system” that gay people deserve to die.
  • In 2004, the Salvation Army threatened to close its New York City soup kitchens after the city decided to require all charities to adhere to civil rights laws.
  • In 2001, it tried to get the Bush administration not to give grant monies to cities and states with non-discrimination laws and that same year, The Salvation Army tried to get an exemption that would allow them to ignore laws protecting LGBTs from discrimination.

The Salvation Army’s Position Statement on Homosexuality, which was deleted from the organization’s web site (SalvationArmyUSA.org) sometime in 2012, was very, very carefully worded, calling sexual attraction “a matter of profound complexity.”

Regardless of the tactful phrasing, the message is clear: The Salvation Army does not support LGBT rights.

“Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. 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,” the statement read.

To be balanced, I should make it clear that to our knowledge, The Salvation Army does not discriminate against gay individuals when it comes to direct services, but holds a long-standing, organization-wide contempt for regulations that require charities to adhere to policies that fight discrimination against LGBTs. That stance arguably is more problematic than blatantly anti-gay groups because it allows The Salvation Army to publicly announce, “We help anyone!” while collecting money from unsuspecting generous folks which it can then, privately, quietly use to advance anti-LGBT efforts.

If you do not agree with the boycott, please think about why you’re giving your money to an organization that works against LGBT equality.

If you agree, and you wish to do more than simply withhold your change from the shiny red buckets, then click on the image below to download and print out your bell-ringer “donations” stating why you do not support The Salvation Army.


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