I want to give money to the Salvation Army’s ‘Red Kettle’ bell-ringers. I really want to support them as a group. But I won’t.
Don’t misunderstand me. I like and respect the Salvation Army. They do a lot of good work. They provide disaster relief when communities are ravaged by floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Their charity shops and thrift stores help a lot of poor people get decent clothing as well as inexpensive household goods and appliances. They offer a family tracing service that helps families restore contact with loved ones who’ve run away or become homeless for one reason or another. They do a LOT of good work, and they deserve a lot of credit and praise for it.
Because in 2001 the Salvation Army Western Territory made the courageous decision to offer domestic-partnership benefits to gay employees. I admired them for that. It wasn’t an easy thing for a Methodist-based church to do — but it was the right thing to do. And they took a lot of heat for it from other Christian groups. Among other things, the Salvation Army was accused of a “monstrous … appeasement of sin.” For two months the group was soundly chastised, scolded, castigated, and upbraided.
And hey, it worked. Two months after granting those benefits, the Salvation Army rescinded them.
As a church, the Salvation Army has an affirmative obligation to follow their moral code. They believe homosexual activity is a sin. “A relationship between same-sex individuals is a personal choice that people have the right to make,” according to the Salvation Army’s Maj. George Hood, the national community relations secretary. “But from a church viewpoint, we see that going against the will of God.” I think that’s monumentally stupid, but they have the absolute right to believe what they want
But by giving those benefits to same-sex couples, the Salvation Army essentially admitted it was the right thing to do. By taking back those benefits, the Salvation Army proved themselves to be cowardly and hypocritical. Had they not given benefits to same sex couples and then rescinded them I would have continued to give my wee bit of financial support to the Salvation Army for the good work they do. Despite the fact that I disagree with them about gay rights. I would have continued to drop cash in their kettles — if they had not shown themselves to be moral cowards.