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Are Anti-Gay Policies Hurting the Salvation Army's Coffers?

f you've done any shopping this holiday season, you've likely seen (and heard) a few bellringers for the Salvation Army. Standing outside the local Sears or JC Penney, oodles and oodles of winter-coat wearing bell ringers are hanging out next to red kettles hoping to net donations for the Christian relief organization. For years, gay rights activists have continued to point out that while the Salvation Army preaches charity work with one ring of the bell, they also happen to be selling a dose of homophobia with the other ring. The Salvation Army considers homosexuality immoral, and has an official policy statement that says "Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex."

That statement is pretty tame compared to other blasts against LGBT people that have popped up on Salvation Army Web sites around the globe. A few years back, the Salvation Army in Australia went so far as to say that homosexuality was akin to rebellion against God. Nothing says charity, perhaps, like some good old-fashioned homophobia.

Phil Bronstein at the San Francisco Chronicle has an article out asking the question: Is the Salvation Army naughty or nice? He notes that in San Francisco, donations to the Salvation Army are down. Folks in Massachusetts also say that the red kettles aren't collecting as much cash as in years past. Combined, that certainly has to make one wonder whether the Salvation Army's overtly anti-gay statements are having an impact on the number of folks willing to drop a little extra change into the coffers -- nay, kettles -- of the Salvation Army.

For supporters of LGBT rights, the past statements of the Salvation Army should give one pause. Particularly the Australia chapter of the Salvation Army, which in denouncing homosexuality went further than even the Catholic bishops.

"[Homosexual activity is] as rebellion against God's plan for the created order.... Homosexual practice, however, is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable," says the Australia section. "Such activity is chosen behavior and is thus a matter of the will. It is therefore able to be directed or restrained in the same way heterosexual urges are controlled. Homosexual practice would render any person ineligible for full membership (soldiership) in the Army."

Maybe the Salvation Army should just stick to charity work instead of getting into the science of human sexuality. Unless they enjoy being totally factually inaccurate and wrong 100 percent of the time.

Does the Salvation Army do good work? Yes. Do they champion anti-gay policies? Yes.

Now that right there is what you call a moral dilemma. What's a good-hearted holiday shopper to do when they hear those bells and spot that red kettle?

Tim Redmond at SFBG.com admits that no amount of good work can overcome money that might fund homophobia.
"The Army's supporters say 89 percent of the money goes directly to service. So 11 cents out of every dollar you drop in the red can goes to support an agenda dedicated to bigotry and intolerance that doesn't belong anywhere in society any more," Redmond writes. "That's too much for me."

Too much for Redmond. How about for you?

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