Thursday, November 24, 2011

Is your charity of choice charitable to your beliefs?

An old high school friend posted this screencap on Facebook, with the caption "note to self....find a different charity."

This got me thinking about how complicated charity and fundraising is these days, with our diverse and conflicting religious and secular agendas and beliefs.

The Salvation Army is, after all, a pretty conservative religious organization. I knew some Sally Anners growing up, and they had to sign contracts with the church that they would never do bad things like smoke or drink (which is why our neighbour stashed his smokes and beers in my parents' basement). I didn't really expect them to be down with the rainbow.

At the same time, I've learned from experience that the social media outrage of the day could be outdated, out-of-context, or just plain made up. So I did my own lookup. Here is the American Salvation Army's position paper on homosexuality, in full:

The Salvation Army holds a positive view of human sexuality. Where a man and a woman love each other, sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage. However, in the Christian view, sexual intimacy is not essential to a healthy, full, and rich life. Apart from marriage, the scriptural standard is celibacy. 
Sexual attraction to the same sex is a matter of profound complexity. Whatever the causes may be, attempts to deny its reality or to marginalize those of a same-sex orientation have not been helpful. The Salvation Army does not consider same-sex orientation blameworthy in itself. Homosexual conduct, like heterosexual conduct, requires individual responsibility and must be guided by the light of scriptural teaching. 
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. 
Likewise, there is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for reason of his or her sexual orientation. The Salvation Army opposes any such abuse. 
In keeping with these convictions, the services of The Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation. The fellowship of Salvation Army worship is open to all sincere seekers of faith in Christ, and membership in The Salvation Army church body is open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army's doctrine and discipline. 
Scriptures: Genesis 2:23-24; Leviticus 18:22; Mark 2:16-17; Romans 1:26-27; Romans 5:8; I Corinthians 6:9-11; I Corinthians 13; Galatians 6:1-2; I Thessalonians 4:1-8; I Thessalonians 5:14-15; I Timothy 1:15-16; Jude 7 
Recommended for approval by the Commissioners' Conference
Approved for use within the USA by International Headquarters
So they don't accept any sex outside of heterosexual marriage as godly, but abhor discrimination based on the sexuality of others. It's actually a pretty friendly sort of hyperconservative sexual morality they've got there.

The Canadian version is even more smiley:

The Salvation Army upholds the dignity of all persons. For this reason, and in obedience to the example of Jesus Christ, whose compassionate love is all-embracing, The Salvation Army does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in the delivery of its services. 
The Salvation Army believes that God’s will for the expression of sexual intimacy is revealed in the Bible, and that living fully in accordance with biblical standards calls for chastity outside of heterosexual marriage and faithfulness within it. We do not believe that same-sex attraction is blameworthy and we oppose the vilification and mistreatment of gays and lesbians. We believe that we are accountable for the ways in which we express our sexuality. 
While recognizing the challenge that this presents, The Salvation Army believes firmly in the power of God’s grace to enable all to live in a manner that is pleasing to Him. 
In keeping with our mission, we are committed to proclaiming the good news of salvation, the forgiveness of sins, and transformation by the Holy Spirit. We welcome all seekers of faith in Christ to explore Salvation Army church life. 
The Salvation Army, Canada & Bermuda, November 2011

It basically states that they don't believe in homosexual marriage or even sex (nor pre- nor extramarital het sex) but that they believe what you do in your bedroom is between you and god.

I can't really get mad at an organization that tries that hard to reconcile the impossible morality they impose on themselves with the desire to maintain a christlike relation with the outside world. I have certainly seen a lot worse.

So, in my moral opinion, you can choose to donate to a church that disagrees with your sexual ethics but will fight to protect them from discrimination, or not. That's between you and your own beliefs.

Update: Kerry sent me a link to an article about how Salvation Army organizations have, outside of policy, worked actively against gay rights.

1 comment:

  1. I refuse to support the Salvation Army [in any way] in New Zealand [where I live].

    "When New Zealand considered passage of the Homosexual Law Reform Act in 1986, the Salvation Army collected signatures in an attempt to get the legislation killed. The act decriminalized consensual sex between gay men. The measure passed over the charity's objections."

    They released a half-assed statement back in 2006, but I still refuse to shop at their thrift stores, or donate to any of their charaties:

    ‘We do understand though that The Salvation Army’s official opposition to the Reform Bill was deeply hurtful to many, and are distressed that ill-feeling still troubles our relationship with segments of the gay community.
    ‘We regret any hurt that may remain from that turbulent time and our present hope is to rebuild bridges of understanding and dialogue between our movement and the gay community. We may not agree on all issues, but we can respect and care for one another despite this.’