Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tune out the Bells-- Just Say No to the Salvation Army

So how have I not seen this before? Apparently it was banned. Either way, it's the hottest thing I've ever seen in advertising, and I would totally buy this product. Wait, what?

Believe it or not, but this is actually relevant to something for once! My novel for NaNo, that is. Well, not the priests. And characters do not get it on with ice cream in their hands. (They're very good about waiting til they get out of the kitchen or finish eating... [LED light bulb flashes over head] O_O ooo, wait!)

"Thanksgiving" is tomorrow. My sister's been home for about 40 minutes now, and already the screaming matches have begun. (Not with me. I'm staying by myself in the basement until it's over. This weekend, that is. My bedroom will be a war zone at some point, I'm sure of it.) But speaking of "holidays" based on the systematic government-sanctioned genocides of innocent people (oh, were you expecting something else?)-- for those of us not participating in the Commercialized Day of Gluttony, a bit of advice for raising our future children to understand the true story behind Thanksgiving.

Moving on to the next Commercialized Holiday - honestly, I have no idea what Christmas is even about anymore, other than shopping and decorating and cooking and screaming at your sibling because she's a total bitch. It's nothing like the magical time it used to be when I was growing up... Anyway, before I get all nostalgic-- one aspect of the holiday season that never seems to change is the emergence of red-capped employees of the Salvation Army outside every store. Pavlov's dogs have nothing on us. I can feel my wallet grow heavier in my purse as the jingle-jangle next to the little red cauldron (*ahem* I mean "kettle") screams "FEED ME!" and my hands automatically begin to rove my pockets for loose change, just as I did when I was little. It's hard to describe the feeling I get when I have to pass by without dropping in at least a few cents, but I can't say that it's a good one. My family has been donating clothes and other items to them for as long as I've been alive. They were my first stop when the tsunami hit Indonesia, and when the earthquake destroyed much of Haiti. I never even thought twice about it. It feels like purposefully ignoring the ringing bells is a one-way ticket to Rush Limbaugh's house (a.k.a. Hell), and he (I mean his "hired help") is making liver and onions and gizzards for dinner. (Excuse me while I go puke up my tofu and beans...) However, as much "good" as they do in the world (and they certainly do a lot of it), they do a lot of not-so-great things as well...

This is going to sound harsh, but hear me out-- I'm about to explain why you shouldn't donate to the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is very much Anti-Gay:
  • In 2004, they threatened to close down all of their NYC soup kitchens if federal law required the companies they worked with to provide health benefits to same-sex partners of employees.
  • They requested to be exempted from local laws that bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as a religious organization receiving federal money.
  • Too many things to list.

But if the subject of LGBT rights isn't enough to make you find a new charity, consider this:
  • the Salvation Army is an evangelical international Christian organization, set up like a paramilitary, that denies assistance or jobs to anyone it feels does not perfectly fit into their "Christian values" and "scripture." [Last I checked, Charity and Love were Christian values. But hey, I was born into a Catholic family, and only went to Catholic school for 13 yeas and was forced to read the Bible every fucking day, all while acting as a leader of my high school's annual religious retreat (at which point I was the only agnostic/atheist there). I could be totally wrong here.]
  • They believe the Civil Rights Act of 1964 gives them the right to discriminate based on religious beliefs.
  • They use taxpayer money to practice religious discrimination against employees-- "The Salvation Army recently began to require all employees in its Social Services for Children division to fill out a form on which they: a) identify their church affiliation and all other churches attended for the past decade, b) authorize their religious leaders to reveal private communications to The Salvation Army; and c) pledge to adhere to the religious mission of The Salvation Army which, according to The Salvation Army, is to 'preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.'"
  • They are hardcore followers of "Scripture." So yes, ladies, we are officially still considered inferior to our "husbands," are not allowed to date or marry other women, and deserve to be stoned (and not the hypothetically good kind) if we're not obedient. Yay!
  • They function as a billion dollar multinational corporation, but are exempt from taxes, because the government considers them to technically be a church.
  • They raised $20.5 million dollars for disaster relief in Haiti. Which is seriously awesome. Except for the fact that only $6.8 million of that money actually went to Haiti. And many people are still displaced, hungry, living in tents, and sick. (Sign this petition if you want something to be done about it!)
  • The Salvation Army has a long history of sexual abuse cases-- internationally. The most recent involves a swim team. (Yea, who didn't see that one coming?)
  • They are "at war" against "social evils." I'm not even touching that.
  • Officers are forced to sign contracts stating they can only marry other officers of the "Army." Yes, the Salvation Army tells you who you can or cannot marry...
  • But those officers also get a pretty sweet deal-- free housing, in million dollar neighborhoods! Yay! The Salvation Army spends quite a bit of money buying houses... But what's a couple million? The poor and homeless are used to not having any money-- they won't miss it! Surely they would understand how important it is for officers to have a nice hot tub to relax in after spending so much time with the dirty beggars at the soup kitchen...
  • Very questionable finances. I mean, I really don't know many people who can buy a $435,000 house with cash, or who lose $400 million dollars a year between income and expenses (source is lost somewhere among the million tabs I currently have open in Firefox... Working on it! Oh, here's one from Forbes)
Do they do great work? Absolutely. But to me, that's not enough. I'm rather disgusted by all of this. So I'll be in search of a new charity, and I hope this has convinced you as well. If you know of a good one, now's a great time to share! (I know there's some reason why I also avoid the Red Cross if possible. Someone needs to remind me... Oh, I remember. Less than 10 cents out of every dollar donated ever actually goes towards something. Or was it out of every $5... I don't remember.)

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