Salvation Army under fire: What next?

It seems to be becoming commonplace to attack organizations that are intent on doing some good in the world. The Susan B. Komen Foundation felt considerable heat earlier this year for cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood over “right to life” issues. The Boy Scouts of America encountered negative press for their insistence on banning gay members and troop leaders. Komen made a huge gaffe in their stance and it most likely impacted their fundraising efforts to combat breast cancer. The Boy Scouts, even though the sound of skeletal bones rattling around in their closet is deafening, is basically a good organization with noble intentions. Now, the Salvation Army is under attack.

Although this is the first time I’ve heard of this backlash, the Salvation Army has come under fire from some gay rights groups due to their stance opposing gay lifestyles. The Salvation Army, as is the case with most faith-based groups, would prefer a traditional man-woman relationship and would most likely prefer to pretend gay lifestyles didn't exist. The Salvation Army, however, denies any discriminative policies and says it just wants to collect some money in order to help people in need. As per the Salvation Army’s annual report, in 2011 they served over 2 million meals to people in need and provided shelter to over 1,200 people a night in the Chicago area alone.

As a habitual, not to mention a forgetful shopper, it’s not unusual for me to have to run to the grocery or drug store several times in one day. At this time of the year, there is always a volunteer posted at the entrance of the store’s door greeting me with a smile and a ring of the bell. Since I pay for most things with a debit card now, I’m usually digging for change in the console of my car before I even go into the store. I don’t want to simply walk past the volunteer without dropping a little something into the red kettle. As a very superstitious person and a believer in karma, I just can’t afford to take any chances.

As for the Salvation Army’s intentions with how they utilize all of the donated funds, I have no reason to question what they do with the money. There have been no allegations of impropriety of any sort, at least that have been made public. Feeding and sheltering those who have suffered through some difficult times is a pretty decent thing to do, as far as I’m concerned. As a faith-based organization, they are entitled to take a stand on certain issues, provided no one gets hurt or discriminated against in the process. According to the Salvation Army, they have taken some wording out of their mission statement that may rub those with an alternative lifestyle the wrong way. So it appears that they are, at the very least, recognizing such groups and making an effort to reach out and compromise.

I drove down the newly opened Lower Wacker Drive yesterday and saw some homeless folks camped out and settling in to what appears to be a very cold and lonely place this holiday season. If the Salvation Army is intent on helping folks in that situation, then what exactly is the problem? Now if they are using those donated funds to clothe people in Green Bay Packers jackets and jerseys, then that’s another issue entirely. No reports of such distribution have occurred as of yet. So for now, if some volunteer is willing to stand outside on a cold and dreary day to collect a little money, then I’m going to dig for change or small bills and help to stuff that kettle.

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    Tom Byelick

    A lengthy career in sales coupled with years of raising children has led me to interact with numerous personality types. It is the nuances in these personality types that lead me to ask questions and inquire about beliefs / attitudes which, I find, leads to even more questions. Sometimes the obvious can lead to be the most entertaining!

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