I am sitting in a Starbucks in Manhattan, passing the time while my son takes an art class, and I am watching three young Asian women wearing red Salvation Army aprons brave the cold. The one farthest from me is ringing the bell—I don’t think her wrist has stopped moving since I started watching—while the one nearest me holds her gloved hands up to her mouth every so often and calls something out to the people hurrying by. The third, walking back and forth between the other two, has been using free candy as bait, trying to get passersby, especially those with children, to stop long enough that they might decide to drop some money in the red bucket she and her companions are hoping to fill. Some people stop and put some cash, or sometimes coins, in the pail, but most, refusing both the candy and the opportunity to give, walk past as if the women aren’t even there, and even most of those who accept the treat choose not to part with any of their money.
One woman, who at first allowed the little girl she was walking with to accept a piece of candy, actually sent the girl back to return it. She placed the chocolate gingerly in the open hand of the woman who’d given it to her and skipped back in the direction from which she came. The Salvation Army volunteer watched the girl go, lifting her eyes out beyond the window frame, where the woman accompanying the girl must have been standing, and then turned to her fellow volunteers with a look of shocked non-comprehension on her face. She shrugged her shoulders and, on cue, as I have watched them do several times, the three of them burst out laughing, revealing a sense of humor about their task that it is hard not to respect, as it is hard not to respect what I hope is the sincerity and commitment they have shown by choosing to spend this first really cold Saturday morning of the season standing outside and being rejected over and over and over again.
The truth is, though, that I would be one of the people rejecting those women, not because I don’t know that The Salvation Army does some very good and necessary work, and not because I am, in the language of the season, a Scrooge, but because I will not give money—and, frankly, I don’t think anyone who claims to be in favor of diversity and tolerance should give money either—to an organization which holds as the seventh of its eleven articles of faith the belief that I, and anyone like me, because we do not have “faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit,” are not worthy of salvation—assuming, for the moment, that we would want the kind of salvation The Salvation Army believes in.
Granted, at least as far as I know, the Salvation Army no longer injects religion explicitly into its interactions with the people it helps; but the fact that they help poor people, veterans, addicts and the elderly, that they are involved in anti-trafficking work and more, does not erase the fact that this good work is motivated and informed by a religious ideology that has, as one of its unstated goals, the extinction of the religious identity and practice in which I was raised, not to mention all the other non-Christian religious identities and practices that exist in the world today.
I recognize that no one is forcing me to give The Salvation Army my money, and I am sure there are people reading this who are thinking, “Fine! Don’t give, but please keep your opinion to yourself.” The thing is, though, that The Salvation Army does not keep its opinion to itself. It is an unapologetically evangelical Christian organization that looks forward to the day when all people accept Jesus Christ as their savior and Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca, Zoroastrianism, animism and shamanism, not to mention atheism, are mere words connoting systems of belief from which all life has been drained. More to the point, because I think everyone ought to ask themselves whether they want to support the ideology of an organization to which they are planning to give their money, I think people need to understand that when they put money in The Salvation Army’s red pail, they are supporting not only the charity work that the organization does, but the religious values to which the organization subscribes.
Christianity, of course, is not the only religion that thinks its truth is the only truth; most religions, in fact, do. So I am not here trying to suggest that Christianity, or at least the kind of Christianity promoted by The Salvation Army, is any worse than any other religion; it’s just that The Salvation Army is very visible at this time of year. Were there a Muslim, or Jewish–or Hindu of Buddhist or any other–charity that held similar articles of faith and whose volunteers were similarly ubiquitous, I would be saying the same kinds of things about that group; and I want to emphasize that I am talking about a group and its professed organizational values, not individuals and the faith they they hold. The Salvation Army is a Christian organization that wants us to give it our money so it can do its Christian charity work, part of which has nothing to do with charity and everything to do with bringing about a world in which Christianity is the only surviving religion. For the reasons I have given here, I will not turn a blind eye to the latter in order to support the former, no matter how worthwhile the former may be.
Cross posted on The Politics in The Poetry and The Poetry in the Politics.
I won’t give to the Salvation Army in Australia, because they actively campaigned against my human rights as a gay person.
I won’t give to the Salvation Army because they won’t give shelter to people like me, and like every kind of person, when people like me don’t have shelter, sometimes we die.
I agree – but unfortunately the Salvation Army is the only provider of free food and free clothing in my rural area. I want to support local people, so I checked out what they do with their goods. Donated clothes and non-food goods they usually sell in their shops unless the clothes of that type are needed urgently, and food goes directly into food parcels. Therefore, I donate food and plus-size and extended plus-size underwear that is always needed. They will not have any of my money, but until another distribution system appears, I’m not willing to stop giving food and bras to people who desperately need them.
I appreciate lilacsigil’s dilemma. Still…
Two big reasons not to donate to the Salvation Army. (1) The people who ring the bells are actually paid employees. They either make a percentage of the money they raise in their little buckets or get an hourly wage, or some combination of both. Your donation will be much better used elsewhere. (2) The SA is terribly homophobic. Recall that in the W Bush administration, the SA was illegally working with Rove to enshrine their hatred of gays into law.
The SA is a small, petty, hateful group of corporatist faux Christians. Avoid them at all costs.
Much as I dislike so much of what the SA does and stands for, I don’t believe that this is true. The SA soldiers that I have known have been doing work that they genuinely believe is good work for reasons that they deeply believe.
I won’t give to SA, but I’m not going to lie about those who work and/or volunteer for them either.
“I think people need to understand that when they put money in The Salvation Army’s red pail, they are supporting not only the charity work that the organization does, but the religious values to which the organization subscribes.”
To what degree?
It’s one thing to give $100 and end up having $50 of it go to support an organization you don’t like. But the SA does some good things, and there are not always competing charities with the same mission. So I think it’s relevant how much of each dollar goes to the end recipient.
I, like you, don’t generally give to christian organizations, so I don’t give to the SA anyway. But I know that some places give almost all public donations to charity and rely on their members to support the religious parts. If I were to look past the christian affiliation, i’d target those. Is the SA one of them?
The Salvation Army does pay bellringers sometimes, when they cannot get enough volunteers. Generally the bellringers are either volunteers, or are people who came to the SA looking for help. A lot of the paid people are from halfway houses, homeless shelters, and the SA’s own network of retirement homes.
Bellringers do not take a cut of their collections, they are paid hourly.
Like Jake, there are definitely reasons to not support SA depending on your personal values, but the idea that they’re faking it is slightly ridiculous. Fakers would be taking in a lot more money.
My father was head of the local SA (smallish East Texas town – 25K pop) during the ’90s. They split the pot with the bell ringers 50/50. So starting off, half of your bell ringer donation is lost to “overhead.” That is before the actual overhead of the local SA organization — which includes money sent to the national organization. For charitable organizations, that is extremely poor in regards to the percentage that is used to help people.
Also, look at where the money is going. The SA is all about “Christian outreach.” For too many years that has been basically hate the gays and abstinence only sex education. The SA is just a far right wing propaganda charity organization.
Yes, they may do a little good here and there. But that is really secondary to their mission. Which is to promote evangelical Christianity and work to make the US a Christian theocracy.
Interesting, Bucky. So you’re saying a group founded in another country almost 150 years ago, and that operates internationally in 121 nations, is primarily about working to make the US a Christian theocracy?
They’ve really got that cover operation perfected, I must say. Public music, disaster relief, family reunification, and thrift stores – that’s the empire I’d build if I were a crypto-theocrat. I guess they’re being slow and thorough…laying the groundwork for American Christian theocracy out in Namibia and such. “By 2050 – we strike!”
Forbes gives the Salvos an 82% rating for efficiency, and the American Institute of Philanthropy gives them an A-.
There’s a lot of information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvation_army about what the SA does and believes. Splitting the pot with the bellringers, needless to say, has never been part of it. Sorry to hear that your dad was apparently defrauding a worthwhile charity, assuming that he was telling the truth and that you’re telling the truth.
I can certainly understand your opposition to point 7 of their list, but am confused that you get all the way to 7 before throwing a flag. Offhand it looks like points 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9 would all be offensive to you.
I appreciate you viewpoint. But let’s all please remember that when Cheney/Bush/Rove came to power — which the SA had helped to achieve — the US national SA was very pleased. They had helped to put this cabal into power and they saw this as an unique opportunity to pass legislation important to their mission.
What was it they had worked so hard to achieve? Helping the poor? NO. Feeding the hungry? NO. Clothing the naked or healing the sick? NO and NO.
What was it that the SA spent all that time and money to try and achieve?
Enshrining their hatred of The Gay into law.
Yes, they had a golden opportunity to work with a sympathetic and beholden administration to further advance their organizational goals. And those goals were? Hating The Gay. Not helping the needy or unfortunate. But HATE.
So yes, Robert, that 150 year old institution founded in another country is, in the here and now, all about imposing their bigoted, radical evangelical form of Christianity on the rest of us.
As for their efficiency ratings, it merely tells a donor the percentage of funds that go to pay for overhead. I would expect them to be fairly high on the scale given that they are largely a volunteer organization. Unlike many others. Still, the ratings don’t look at the mission of the organization. It is entirely possible that the KKK would score well on the efficiency scale, but still …
This whinging about how ‘the salvation army helps the homeless, so how dare you criticize’ strikes me as awfully cold when my friends who were homeless could not use it, and, if I were homeless, my obvious queerness would mean that I wouldn’t even get through the door to the enforced prayer crap. 40%, that’s the amount of homeless youth in NYC who are queer, the portion that can’t make it through the door. One in three queer kids who comes out before 18 looses their home and none of them are welcome. This is an organization that not only excludes the homeless youth I have known, but deliberately works to prevent them from ever having equal rights or employment. I’d be better off giving my money to the Greyhound bus station, because it has shown itself to be more welcoming of my people when they were homeless than the SA has ever been. The SA will only help you if you are a cis hetero christian and I am none of the three, so I’ll tell them to go fuck themselves, the same thing they’d tell me.
Please. Not wanting to hire gay people is problematic, but it isn’t what the institution was or is about. The SA (and a lot of other religious organizations) wanted to be able to bid for government work, take government contracts, and do social services work in conjunction with government, but also wanted to ensure that doing so wouldn’t compromise their century-old right to hire the people they want to hire.
There’s a fascinating argument to be had about the role of church and state organizations and their interactions, and what the rules should be, but that argument has little to do with SA in particular. It’s a quite general argument, one that applies to a lot of organizations.
The efficiency rating is quite relevant to your points. You made the claim that the bellringers take 50% off the top. Well, the bellringers are the primary fundraising arm of SA – more than 70% of their fundraising comes from direct donations to the kettles. Organizations where 35%+ of fundraising goes right to the point-of-sale fundraiser do not get high marks.
Either the efficiency ratings, and general high regard for SA in charity ratings, are complete crap, or your claim is complete crap.
I suspect that it’s your claim.
Although, which claim? You’ve made the claim now that their primary goal is Christian evangelism and the institution of a Christian theocracy. You’ve also claimed that the primary goal is enshrining the Hatred of the Gay into law. (Odd that this hatred came not in the form of lobbying for laws against gay marriage, not in the form of lobbying to strengthen the US military rules against gay servicemembers, not in the form of lobbying to bar gay adoptions on the Federal level, not in the form of lobbying against gay-themed popular culture, not in the form of lobbying to defund gay organizations…but lobbying to keep their same hiring practices that they’ve always had.)
There’s plenty of reasons for progressives to dislike the Salvation Army but you’re just making shit up. Bush and Rove and Cheney don’t have a damn thing to do with the Salvation Army, other than maybe throwing a dollar their way now and again. Bush and Rove and Cheney are also long gone. You’re mashing a bunch of things that progressives don’t like about social conservatives, and putting it under an absolutely absurd conspiracy theory about a bunch of people who run thrift stores and try to help homeless people. It’s nonsense.
FWIW, my father, for all his many faults, would never be one to defraud any organization he worked for. He was a total ass in many ways, but he was as honest as is possible. And trust me when I say that I am not one inclined to defend my father.
The fact that the SA at this point in time does not split the pot with bell ringers has little to no relationship to policies in place 15 to 20 years ago. And in this impoverished Texas town, I suspect that splitting the pot meant more money for the SA than if they had paid an hourly rate.
Nobody has said that you can’t criticize, so who are you addressing?
SA shelters – like many homeless shelters – have problems with trans clients. Some of those problems are undoubtedly rooted in bigotry and fear. Other problems are rooted just as solidly in real practical issues.
I’ve put in more time on Salvation Army defense than I’ve budgeted for today, so I’m going to bow out, but I will say that I do not believe the SA turns away queer clients. Trans clients, yes, in a residential context, and I have a real problem with that.
I also have a problem with dumping on people who do 70% of the job, for failing to be perfect and doing 100% of the job.
Bucky, you said that the current policy was to split the pot or to pay, or some combination, so don’t give them money. When challenged on that, you said that your dad used to do it that way back in the day. Well, if your evidence is JUST what your dad used to do, then you don’t know the current policy and can’t make claims about the current policy. You’ve made statements, definitive statements, about the current policy. Do you have evidence to support those statements, or are you just spinning crap?
Do you have any knowledge of what the current policy is? Do you have any evidence of what the past policy was? What town was this, and what years? What’s your real name? Do you have a URL where your opinions and statements can be checked and verified against a real identity?
Robert – the SA will accept queer clients for some services but they had better be prepared to attend evangelical Christian worship services and hear anti-gay rhetoric as the “price” of their assistance, and they certainly cannot expect to receive any services from other queer people, or for those services to be sensitive to the specific needs they have, to acknowledge and honor the people they identify as their family (or to respect those who do not have a relationship with biological family members due to abuse and estrangement), and so forth.
I don’t give to the SA because they wanted a law passed saying it was OK for them not to hire gay people. I don’t give to the SA because they “balance” their org’s budget largely on the backs of volunteers, like running their rehab services almost entirely with unpaid pre-licensure interns who provide the most un-trained services and have a high staff turnover rate. I don’t give to the SA because I am specifically aware of one residential treatment program that enforced a policy of racial segregation for mealtime seating and other activities. I don’ t give to the SA because I am specifically aware of a program that allowed extremely inappropriate behavior from a clinical supervisor toward clinical interns and failed to provide adequate on-site supervision that I believe contributed to harm to at least one client. I don’t give to the SA because I have heard multiple stories about queer people desperate for substance abuse treatment who attempted the SA’s program and found that the level of insensitivity and outright homophobia, coupled with the implicit or explicit message to be “in the closet” while in treatment (which prevented addressing some of the issues that contributed to the substance abuse to begin with) increased their depression and anxiety and in some cases contributed to suicidal ideation.
And mostly I don’t give to the SA because I don’t believe that the price of charity should be submitting yourself to religious indoctrination. So my goods go to Goodwill or Out of the Closet, and my money goes to my county’s food bank.
Thanks for the reminder that I need to print up a new supply of kettle slips (.pdf).
How about, “I don’t give to the Salvation Army because in word and deed they’re committed to offering a big ‘Fuck You’ to people I love.”
That’s enough for me.
Also their motto is, “Blood and Fire,” which is awfully militant and creepy, considering. I mean … you guys run thrift stores. Gimmie a break.
I don’t find Christian belief offensive per se and, for me at least, 3, 4, 6 and even 8 & 9, have a very different feel because number 7, in my experience with proselytizing Christians of varying sorts, has always been the starting point for their trying to convert me. The other beliefs always followed from #7, if that makes any sense.
(Oh and, by the way, though this is completely off topic: it’s Richard, not Jeff. I wish I knew why so many people–because this happens a lot, really a lot, on the web and email–decide that my first name is Jeffrey and not Richard. You, I am sure, were just tired, since I know you know my name from other conversations we’ve had here; but it has been an odd consequence of starting to use my middle name to distinguish myself from another Richard Newman, who is also a poet, with books out, who is the editor of River Styx, one of the better known literary magazines.)
ETA: Gin and Whiskey, Just saw your comment:
For me, in the case of an organization like The Salvation Army, it’s a lot less about how much of any dollar I might give would go where than it is about the evangelical mission of the organization. If the SA were the only charity around, I would probably do what lilacsigil does and donate things other than money, but I would be holding my nose while I did so.
lilacsigil, I appreciate your desire to support people who need it, and I think well of your deliberate choice to give in a way which ensures that your donation goes only to support, and not to political activism or overhead.
I hope I never need what you have donated; if I do, and I’m desperate enough to go to a Salvation Army shelter, they won’t give it to me.
Oh, I’m confident that they’d discriminate against trans (and LGB) people in every context where they can manage it.
Yes. Perfect is the enemy of good. Many times, I have seen good things not implemented because they were not perfect.
On the other hand, even the highest estimate of trans percentages put us at about 0.2%.
The total TLBG population probably doesn’t exceed 10% of the general population.
(I am, for this purpose, setting aside heterosexual male occasional crossdressers, who may be as much as 5% of the male population, or 2.5% of the general population. Because they can be mainstream at need, they can generally access services.)
If our standard of adequacy is 70%, then we expressly leave in the cold 30% of the population. And for that simple metric to force trans inclusion, we would have to set adequacy above 99.8%. Even to include all TLBG people, we’d have to set it above 90%.
It’s perfectly rational, for the sake of efficiency, for the sake of expediency, to declare “good enough!” before we get to trans people.
This is one of many reasons that trans people sometimes get a bit irrational and talk about principle. By itself, “Rational” doesn’t get us an even chance.
Richard, very sorry. If it makes you feel any better, though, I didn’t just get your name wrong; I thought Jeff Fecke had written this post. So I got your whole identity wrong.
Grace – Gender identity discrimination is illegal in my state (I’m in Australia not the US). The Salvos do break this law, as you might expect, but they do not run either of the women’s shelters in the south west of my state. They are run by an non-profit organisation, Domestic Violence Victoria, that specifically includes transwomen. I do donate money to them!
Unfortunately, the Salvos do run shelters in more urban areas with a greater concentration of GLBT people, and they are the larger of two agencies dealing with crisis housing in my area as opposed to shelters. So if you need immediate emergency accommodation you could have that – but aid before or after that crisis point is harder to get. I’m one of 5 out lesbians in a very small town (when we moved here we were the only ones) but I know no openly gay men, trans* or genderqueer people here at all, and thus casual intolerance is certainly agreeable to the Salvos’ friendly image around here.
Interesting, I never realized before that the Sally Ann was so discriminatory against LGBTQ persons. I always thought it was a really good charity. :(
Yeah, this post is WAY too long. TL;DR version: What Christians Believe (TM) and the “Christian” institutions rarely have anything to do with genuine Christianity (unfortunately) and teachings. In criticising typically overbloated “Christian” institutions and faux Christians, I give the overbloated post:
I don’t follow that (1) somehow Christianity is wrong simply b/c it wants everyone to be saved by Jesus. Evangelism literally means “the good news” and persons who proselytize Christianity are not doing it from a perspective of destroying “other non-Christian religious identities and practices” but of genuinely wanting others to share salvation. In a very real sense, you could potentially continue practising non-Christian traditions and still believe in Christ. For instance, the early sects of Christianity varied significantly in beliefs and practices including in some cases polytheism! Also in more recent times look at how slaves incorporated Christian figures/beliefs into their existing religion.
It’s certainly a nuance that genuine evangelism comes from a place of inclusiveness vs. as Richard states, of destruction. Given how many very (un-Christian) Christians have this goal though, not to mention white and hetero dominion, it’s a common (debateably) misconception.
However, Christianity =/= “Christian” institutions. In fact most of these institutions don’t practice Christian principles. Ironic how Jesus criticizes the teachers of the law as being more focused on man-made traditions than God’s teachings and then we have the current bloated “Christian” institutions that care more about quoting Leviticus than practising “love each other” (which Jesus said was the second most important commandment, next to loving God, not to mention how many times it’s stated don’t judge others.)
Personally, I tend to be agnostic more leaning towards belief so, if there is a God, I don’t think that he/she/it/they would allow so many varying beliefs worldwide but make “heaven” exclusive to a specific sect, especially one so splintered as Christianity; there are many paths to God, otherwise he/she/it/they are not really God.
(2) Christianity isn’t necessarily homophobic or transphobic (or misogynistic for that matter). One of the most interesting things for me, was reading in Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “The Woman’s Bible” that points out that the first Genesis creation myth, male and female are created at the same time in the image of God – so there is some portion or aspect of God that has a female or feminine aspect and God gave dominion of the earth to both men and women equally, not men dominion over women. Also, (beyond Stanton’s scope) transgendered/intergendered persons are in a very real sense, also made in God’s image as well. Not to mention what Paul said: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” IOW, there’s no hierarchy or distinction – the anti-thesis of Kyriarchy. (It’s a sad reality how Patriarchial Roman institutions later conformed Christianity into a Patriarchial belief system.) I think everyone should read Rev. White’s article about Christianity and homosexuality, which does an excellent job of refuting every single BS “Christian” argument against homosexuality: http://www.soulforce.org/article/homosexuality-bible-gay-christian
As he points out, unfortunately, very few people especially the “Christians” spouting off on What Christians Believe(TM) haven’t read the Bible. Also, very annoying is the willful ignoring and glossing over of the most fundamental aspect of Christianity – don’t judge other people and instead be merciful and love each other. In fact, here’s all the Bible quotations stating don’t judge people:
http://www.openbible.info/topics/judging_others (Note I haven’t looked at this site in depth, just Googled for the quotations.) My favourite quotation is the one about the splinter and the wood beam b/c I always imagine a faux Christian with a 2×4 stuck in their eye. :P
I don’t give money to the Salvation Army because although they run many drug and alcohol treatment centers, about nine years ago they stopped allowing AA and NA to bring meetings into the treatment facilities. For years and years, AA members and NA members, on a volunteer basis, went to the centers and organized and ran meetings on a regular basis, so that folks in treatment could get a grasp of AA meetings so when they left the center they’d feel comfortable, plus have contacts at the meetings already.
The reason the Salvation Army stopped allowing AA and NA in?
Not Christian enough.
Yes, AA and NA, avoided by many that need it because of the “religious” nature of the program is not sufficiently Christian enough to warrant VOLUNTEERING in their facility.
Pisses me off still all these years later.
Does SA refuse to serve gay/trans folk, or does it refuse to make accommodation for gay/trans status when providing services?
Those seem to be somewhat different things. I don’t really know much about the SA, so this is a real, not rhetorical, question.
If someone tells a joke about green-haired, red-eyed, three-legged sloths out of a genuine desire to make others, including those sloths, laugh, but the joke is offensive to the sloths, it doesn’t really matter what the intention of the teller was; the joke is offensive. Period. Similarly, people who proselytize Christianity may genuinely believe in what they are doing as a constructive, inclusive kind of thing, but from my point of view, as someone who is not Christian, that belief is irrelevant: to suggest that I will not be saved if I do not accept Christ as my savior is offensive; more to the point, to the degree that accepting Christ means accepting all the baggage (and I mean that word descriptively not derisively) that comes along with him–and there is baggage–it will mean, by definition, altering my religious/spiritual/whatever tradition in order to accommodate this new belief. In other words, no matter how you cut it, no matter how inclusive you want to make it possible for Christian evangelism to be, it is by definition about ending religions/religious practices that do not include Jesus Christ as the world’s savior. The good intentions of the people evangelizing are, as I said above, irrelevant.
Okay, I dont support the Salvation Army and I will tell you why. I did volunteer work and I was with the fundraising coordinator for a hard working charity and he scheduled to be at a location. On that day, we arrived and the “bell ringing bullies” arrived an hour later. They were mad we were there, despite there motto “sharing is caring”, and they made us leave. They were outside the door ringing the bell in peoples faces so hard the bell ball inside flew off and could have hit someone in the face. The management was scared the bell ringing bullies might call corporate and tell them they scheduled us. They block every single charity out from before Thanksgiving up until New Years, and they dont care. Seven days a week and they are supposed to be a religious organization but they are out there on Sundays too, they dont let up. Now, while in college I had to visit one of there facilities where they say they help people with addictions. I found this interesting, the guys are ordered through the courts to volunteer with them, the house them and send them out to AA but during the day they worked in the room for 12 hours the men told me, in the heat, taking the old clothing that didnt sell in the thrift stores and bundling them up to be shipped out of the country for sale. This was like a sweat shop, it was very sad. I dont know who they help, but I know they love the “bell ringing bully program”. A billion dollar organization doesnt really need to be outside stores, thats grassroots fundraising that is much needed by smaller organizations but they bully them right out of there. They are all paid and so are the managers so I might guess a very small percentage goes to the organization? Who do they really help I dont know but after 25 years in the social work field I honestly no of no one who was of dire need that got help from them. But I do know of clients that were court ordered to serve community service with them and how poorly they were treated. So sad….
No, they did not want NA or AA in their facility cause they would actually see first hand what they did or didnt do for these people, thats why. Not religious enough was a mere poor excuse, ummmm…..why are the bell ringing bullies then out there on Sundays slamming bells in people’s faces, they are very aggressive too!
I recognize that it’s very offensive and as I said before, I also don’t believe that there is one path to one “true” God or even if he/she/it/they necessarily even exist nor do I like faux Christians going off on topics like homosexuality and feminism as What Christians Believe(TM).
The “baggage” as I point out, really is more to do with institutionalization that, in reality,(1) actually is very un-Christ-like. (2) It’s possible to opt out and in fact, there are many people especially in the West who believe in God and celebrate Christmas but don’t believe in the Church. And (3) the institutional belief system or “baggage” we have today is just one of several sects that won adoption by the existing Roman extremely patriarchial institution. They are not the even then the only path to Christ much less the only path to God.
I think intent is very much relevant as well b/c it’s about their framing. The sloth joke analogy, I don’t get. But say, I knew that some place they were giving away $1 million dollars to every one who came in. Now wouldn’t you go around telling as many people as humanly possible about “the good news”? This is how Christians view salvation and Christ. I’m not saying it’s right or even true or even not super offensive but assuming it’s about destruction is a very selective framing. Both are in a sense true but they’re like two sides to the same coin.
Personally, I’m more inclined to agree with you and I’m more playing “devil’s advocate”. I mostly find Christians either hypocritical or bigots or cultish or worse but have recently been exploring Christianity (long story) but at any rate I see both sides.
Anyways, this is way beyond the scope of the OP and my posts are WAY too long. TL;DR version: yeah the Sally Ann may be douches but what they believe about intergender and homosexuality is faux Christianity for a number of reasons.
Rule of thumb for my fellow Christians: if we’re worried about someone else’s sin, we’ve gone off the rails. Amazing how much of the objectionable-to-others content of Christianity vaporizes if you internalize that.
The other rule of thumb to remember is that Jesus did not tell us to convert everyone to his worship, although he would no doubt be delighted if everyone did make that choice. Rather, he told us to let everyone know the good news. What people then choose to do is up to them, including rejecting all or part of the message and going on with their lives.
Jesus was a spiritual libertarian. That so many of his followers went statist no doubt grieves him endlessly.
“Does SA refuse to serve gay/trans folk, or does it refuse to make accommodation for gay/trans status when providing services?”
It depends upon the location, though official position from on high is that they don’t turn anyone away. I’m not sure there’s any substantial difference, though.
I think there’s a substantial difference.
“You can’t stay here tonight; go out and freeze.”
“Yes, you can stay here, and so can your boyfriend, but no, you may not share a room/bed.”
“Yes, you can stay here, and of course you and your boyfriend can share a room/bed.”
C > B > A, from the point of view of the person with the boyfriend.
I’m curious as to whether your objection to this is solely on the grounds that you don’t believe Christianity is true (so you don’t want to support promulgating a false belief, which makes sense) or whether you think there’s something morally dubious about evangelism per se.
It seems to me that anyone with a high degree of confidence in an objective belief (so e.g. “birds evolved from dinosaurs” rather than”The Godfather is the greatest film ever”) is, in a sense, in favour of “ending all different beliefs”; they generally think they have good arguments in favour, they are willing to make them, and they would presumably be pleased if someone else were persuaded by this and consequently rejected their different belief. Thus any ardent x-ist wants to “destroy” y-ism. But we don’t normally phrase it that way, presumably because it seems a rather sinister spin on what is essentially “believing you are right about something”. That others would therefore be wrong and that you would presumably be pleased were they to stop being wrong seems to follow naturally.
Perhaps you agree with all of the above but, given your phrasing in the above and the original post, I’m wondering if you think there’s something distinct (and undesirable) about religious beliefs in particular in this respect.
1. Most religious beliefs are very difficult to prove or disprove in any objective way. Scientific opinions, on the other hand, can be falsified or supported by evidence.
2. Most religious beliefs have at one time or another led to very bloody conflict when people insisted that they were right and had the best arguments. By contrast, the number of pogroms over whether or not birds evolved from dinosaurs has been relatively low.
Accordingly, I think it reasonable to hold religious dissent in a somewhat more privileged social position than scientific or factual dissent. It makes for less trouble if we give other people a bit of space to believe what they want to believe.
– I believe it was Grace who already posted a link earlier to a story about a transwoman in Austin who died on the street because the SA told her she couldn’t stay the night with them unless she agreed to be housed with the men (including showering) and wear male clothing.
– The queer people I’m aware of who’ve gotten SA services have received directives like “in order for you to live here and do our residential treatment program, you may not tell anyone you are gay, you may not have any visitation or contact with same-sex partners, etc. etc.” Some of them have had anti-gay material incorporated into the “counseling” they received. Some have been refused day passes to spend time with same-sex partners. Some have been told as part of their “counseling” that the reason they are struggling with addiction is because of their queerness.
I put “counseling” in quotes because every major mental health organization prohibits discrimination against clients on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. But if you’re an unlicensed layperson providing services under the auspices of an agency program, there’s often very little in terms of oversight by any state agency that might censure such behavior.
(And this is why so many people on the left were horrified by Bush’s grand plan to give federal money to religious institutions to provide community services – the “faith based charities” boondoggle.)
“That so many of his followers went statist no doubt grieves him endlessly.”
Robert, I can’t imagine the ego it must take to even pretend to know what God as Jesus thinks.
How lucky that of all the billions of people you alone know the thoughts of Jesus.
“C > B > A, from the point of view of the person with the boyfriend.”
I guess that’s true if you remove all nuance from the argument. And if you create scenarios that don’t actually represent the issues at hand.
I do see the issue of discrimination against homosexuality and intergender and yeah, I definetly agree it’s wrong. The thing is, the OP, wasn’t about that. That only came up in the comments. In the OP, the problem seems like it was b/c they were a Christian organization, and that was enough. This is problematic for a number of reasons. For instance, not even every single Christian organization is homo or transphobic. Check out Soulforce.
Yes, definetly if they are actively discriminating against others in their services then they’re not a group to support. But in the OP, being a charitable organization with an overarcing religious idealogy that may not even affect their services is enough to not support them, he says:
This is such a bizarre statement, IMO. There are so many other organizations with similar religious backgrounds that do really good work, and not supporting them and claiming it’s b/c the organization’s real goal is really to destroy all other religions – ?
I don’t have time to respond in detail to your comment, though I would point out that I did not say the SA’s “real” goal is to destroy all other religions; I said it that the extinction of all other religions is “one of its unstated goals.” The difference–between “real” and “unstated”–is not merely semantic. More to the point, not only have people in this thread pointed out that my assumption about the SA’s not inserting its religious beliefs into its practice was wrong, but I was also wrong in my use of the term “unstated.” The goal of making the world a Christian place is quite explicitly spelled out on the group’s About Us page:
I don’t care how they go about trying to fulfill this goal, whether it’s by explicitly demanding that the people they serve pray with them or otherwise adhere to the SA’s version of Christian values or by hoping that the people they serve will want to convert after seeing the SA’s people and their work as an example of what a “life if Christ” would be like; their goal is one, for the reasons I stated in the OP, that I will not support.
Maybe I missed it, but I do not see a similar statement anywhere on Soulforce’s About page.
Mostly what Robert said. I do think that there is a big difference between religious evangelism, especially when that evangelism is a religious imperative, understood to be commanded by a god, and the other kinds of “evangelism” that you are talking about.
I don’t give to them because they’re an evangelical Christian charity. Nuff said.
You said this:
“Granted, at least as far as I know, the Salvation Army no longer injects religion explicitly into its interactions with the people it help”
Yeah, they do that still. At least in Indiana where an inlaw of mine worked for them.
Good heavens. Are you actually asserting that no one else in the whole of humanity has ever professed to know what God and/or Jesus wants?
I assume s/he’s asserting that it’s rather arrogant of Robert not only to assume he has a direct channel, but that his direct channel is the right one when lots of other people’s “direct channels” have yielded different interpretations (almost as if they’re all just listening to their own damn selves!).
Robert, you neatly encapsulated various stages of rejection and coercion which a shelter might offer toward LBG people. That would include some trans people, to be sure, but not all. To include trans people, let’s add:
B1: “You can stay, but you must sleep and shower with members of the sex you were assigned at birth, regardless of your current legal, physical, or surgical status, which may include having physical characteristics which could attract the sexual attention of the people you will be sleeping and showering with, many of whom are stronger than you are.”
To put the shoe on the cisgender foot, this is a pale shadow of what it might be like: How do you suppose a typical heterosexual male would feel about receiving aid, but only if he were required to act in a way which is anathema to him? For instance, suppose he were required to wear female clothing, makeup, speak in a falsetto, and bunk with conventionally-presenting heterosexual men?
It’s absurd on its face. And yet, that’s kinda what it’s like for trans people, especially those who cannot pass as their assigned (not target) gender.
I agree with Richard’s reasons for not supporting them. But in addition to the religious-political reason which he presents, I have a purely political reason: it’s not wise to feed an animal which will wait until you are injured and then bite you. I would no more give to such an organization than I would give to a search-and-rescue organization which asked if the lost person was a member a particular group before they started looking. Such organizations are worse than neutral, because they suck up the donations which otherwise might go to more ethical organizations, and so, as lilacsigil commented, people can be left with no alternative but choosing between meal-and-shelter-plus-propaganda and hunger-and-cold-with-no-psychological-warfare.
I try not to feed any organization which works against my rights. (This can be difficult, as lilacsigil illustrated; try avoiding buying anything made in China.) But more than that, I think it’s fair to hold aid organizations to a higher standard than other organizations, precisely because their impact is felt only on those most vulnerable, with the fewest alternatives.
I’m not making any claim to special knowledge; I’m reading the black-letter text. I am sure there are other opinions and interpretations; I was expressing mine.
Grace, I can well imagine how difficult it would be for trans people in those circumstances. I can equally well imagine how difficult it would be for cisgendered people, particularly women, who are in a place of equal vulnerability and hurt, to be required to bunk/shower/etc with people whom THEY perceive as sexually and/or physically threatening. I’ve no beef with transfolk and if I were running a shelter I’d try to make accommodation…but I can see very readily how difficult it would be to make everyone feel safe and accepted.
(The compromise position, of having other sets of bunks and showers for transmen and transwomen, would be practical in places with high concentrations of transfolk clients and would satisfy the needs of cisgendered clients who were fearful, but would not be perceived as welcoming by the trans people I have known.)
I don’t see an easy win-win here. If you see a win-win, that doesn’t involve magically transforming all humans into being knowledgeable and accepting of their trans brothers and sisters, by all means share it.
“I don’t see an easy win-win here. If you see a win-win, that doesn’t involve magically transforming all humans into being knowledgeable and accepting of their trans brothers and sisters, by all means share it.”
It seems to me a start for any charitable organization would be to ask questions designed to address the needs of the people they claim to serve. And then, in the case of the SA, to seek answers in the real world rather than in their Bibles (which hasn’t shown itself to be representative of reality).
So in other words, stop being who they are and stop believing what they believe.
No win-win, only harm reduction. The real, documented harm of trans people being attacked and/or murdered for being housed with the wrong sex outweighs the imagined harm of being imaginarily assaulted by imaginary peeping tom trans people.
(Note to whom it may concern: Find systematic, consistent documentation of assault on cis women by trans women –on the level on which murder of trans women by cis men has been documented by sites like Questioning Transphobia — and I will concede that the terms “real” and “imaginary” are misused above.)
How about the harm to women who don’t go to the shelter, because they are afraid (with whatever degree of rationality) that they will be required to be with (what they perceive as) men?
Beliefs don’t have to be rational for people to act on them.
There’s a lot here that I would like to respond to (some of which Mandolin covered; thank you, Mandolin!), but on re-reading the original post and what followed, I fear that I have already threadjacked. Perhaps it’s too late and the damage is done, and if so, Richard, I apologize. But I’ll wait for a go-ahead from Richard or a moderator on continuing the topic of trans people in shelters before I comment further on that aspect.
Also, I’ll wait until I can sit down and try to do it thoroughly rather than on my lunch break.
Robert, within the walls of their church they can be whoever they want to be and believe whatever they want to believe. The moment, however, that they open their doors as a charity and accept funding from the government for that, they have a responsibility to the public that is funding them. The same is true when they pass themselves off as a charity* and collect donations from the public based upon that designation.
*I won’t call them a charity. They are a church and the work they do is proselytizing. A charity provides a service to those who need it free of charge and free of strings.
First, transfolk are a very small %age of the population. According to Grace, they’re about 0.2%.
If you wanted to track transfolk assaults on cisfolk (which is what you refer to above), you’d have to
(1) interview cisfolk;
(2) in numbers sufficient to get around the fact that you’re trying to look at the behavior of a small subset (transfolk who are also violent) who are themselves in a subset of 0.2% of the population (transfolk generally); and
(3) have the victims identify their attackers as trans, accurately.
This seems very difficult to do. And I don’t see any need to focus statistics on transfolk assaulters. Why bother tracking 0.2% of the population, given that we have no particular reason to believe that transfolk are any different than cisfolk w/r/t tendency to commit assault?
But to repeat that in a different context: there is ALSO no reason to discard it as a potential concern in appropriate contexts, given that we have no particular reason to believe that transfolk are any different than cisfolk w/r/t tendency to commit assault. Are you seriously asking people to conduct a study just to treat transfolk the same as everyone else?
You’re also missing a base statistical explanation of the different assault rates: Say that cis people and trans people commit gender-presentation-based violence against their opposite, at some unknown frequency; say that transfolk are 1% of the population to make the math easier.
There are roughly 100 potential cis assailants for every trans person. There are roughly 0.01 potential trans assailants for every cis person. The level at which transfolk are assaulted by cisfolk on account of their trans status would be expected to be extremely high in comparison to the reverse. It could even be 10,000 times higher. That is true even though, in this hypothetical, the tendency of each group to commit assault is exactly the same.
There is no basis that i know of for believing transfolk to be unusually aggressive. But there is ALSO no basis that i know of for believing transfolk to be unusually nonaggressive. there is simply no evidence either way.
There is no basis that I know of for reading what I said in such a way as to indicate that I said either that a study has to be conducted for treating trans people “the same” as other people, or for insisting they are “unusually nonaggressive.”
I can only assume you’re deliberately misreading me. Knock it off.
Yes, I understand that you could be being terminally pedantic, and pretending total fucking ignorance of the fact that trans people are attacked (very regularly, in a documented fashion) for being trans, whereas cis people’s claims that they are going to be assaulted by trans people who are, in the paranoid theory, only trans so they can assault cis people (the unisex bathroom argument) have no evidential basis that I’m aware of. You could be pretending you have no idea of this context for my argument.
However, in order to believe that you have no awareness of what I was or am talking about, I would also have to believe you’re a newcomer to this blog. Which, despite your cloak-and-dagger name change, I know isn’t true.
You may consider this a warning.
That’s a point, but could be broadened significantly–white people fear violence from black people, but that doesn’t justify racial discrimination in housing. At least I don’t think it does; I seem to recall from prior conversations that you may be consistent on this point. Which is, you know, nicely consistent, but I still don’t agree with it.
If we take into account severity of risk, then it would probably be possible to argue that trans people are at acutely more risk than transphobic abused cis women, but I’m not comfortable attempting to assign a numerical value to that. Especially because there would be other numerical values which would have to be included, like how the elimination of transphobia from official sectors influences private belief in transphobia, leading to more or less abused cis women in the future avoiding help because they’re freaked out… and the fact that abused cis women probably have a lot more second and third options than most trans people… and a lot of other subjective, impossible-to-calculate factors.
Tec – I don’t know why you decided to choose my comment to respond to, but I’m well aware that there are non-homophobic Christian organizations. Few if any have the reach, visibility, and gravitas the Salvation Army has.
The OP has pointed out where you’ve misread him.
My point is that their charity *is* informed by their homophobic and transphobic beliefs, *and* that I have knowledge of ways their “charitable services” have harmed people *even exclusive of sexual and gender minorities*.
I feel that there should have been a short phrase of dramatic music to go with this.
Grace: go ahead with what you’d like to say. I think the discussion on religion has moved over to Amp’s thread. Besides, I’d like to learn from what you have to say.
Harry Potter toy donations so offensive they must be thrown away rather than given to children–not returned to the donor, not given to another charity–thrown away.
Well, yeah, Mandolin. SA folks are extremely anti-witchcraft. This means that they believe that magic exists and any magic that isn’t in the bible comes from Satan & is therefore witchcraft. The magic in HP doesn’t come from the biblical god, therefore it is done through Satan.
The SA soldiers that I knew were vary anti-HP for that reason.
It all seems ridiculous to me, but they were really, really sincere in their ludicrous beliefs.