Transcript of Video
When you're out shopping this holiday season, you might see someone ringing a bell outside a store asking you to drop some money into a kettle. That person's from the Salvation Army.
And it seems like a nice gesture, right? A handful of coins means nothing to you, but it can make a big difference to the people you're helping.
And it's cold outside, and these people are ringing a bell, and you just want to help them out...
But here's what you might not know about the Salvation Army.
It's a religious organization. I mean, "salvation" is right in the name. The group says on its website that its primary mission is to "preach the gospel of Jesus Christ."
That alone isn't a problem -- there are a lot of religious charities that do really amazing things -- but when you donate to the Salvation Army, you are literally supporting a church. And it's a church that holds some really awful values.
For example, like other evangelical churches, they will discriminate against you in hiring, at least in certain positions within the organization, if you're gay or lesbian.
In 2001, they even asked the Bush administration for permission to override local laws in places that didn't allow discrimination. Even though they were getting taxpayer money for their charity work.
Their website also used to say that they believed all homosexuals had to be celibate. They still believe that; they just don't have it on their website anymore.
This issue has been a constant source of conflict for them. The handbook that they use to train "soldiers" and members actually cites Romans Chapter 1, Verses 18-32, as in these are important verses that guide our organization.
You know what those verses say? Gay people should be put to death.
One of their Media Relations officers got into a lot of trouble a few years ago when a radio host asked him about that fact. And his response was simply, "Well, that’s a part of our belief system."
What really makes you wonder: How the hell was that guy a media relations anything?
The fact is: Every time you give money to the Salvation Army, yes, a lot of it is going to where you want it to go: Helping people who are less fortunate. But some of it goes right back to fighting against LGBT rights.
It's kind of like buying food at Chick-fil-A. Yeah, you get your waffle fries, but a fraction of your bill is going back into the pockets of a family that has actively fought to make life worse for LGBT people.
I sincerely applaud the good work that the Salvation Army does. Because they do a ton of it. And none of this is to say all the people who work for the organization are bigots. Not at all.
But if you're an atheist who wouldn't want to give money to an evangelical church, why would you give any money to the Salvation Army, especially when you know what their beliefs are?
The only answer I can think of is: Because I want to help people and it's so convenient when they're right there.
Well, there are other charity organizations that do amazing work and they're only a click away. So consider giving to Doctors Without Borders or Donors Choose or (cheap plug for a group I work with) Foundation Beyond Belief.
They're all doing great things. Best of all, the foundation for their goodness isn't a holy book that treats homosexuality like a disease.
So the next time you see someone ringing a bell this winter, pass them by, save your money, and give it instead to an organization that shares your values.