Don’t give money to the Salvation Army

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Where else should you give your money this holiday season? Wikipedia Commons

Don’t donate money to a group that promotes violence

As the last issue of Carillon before the holidays arrives, now is the time to address that in December we’re about to start seeing a lot more bell-ringers and charity drives. While it is “the season for giving,” sometimes it can be hard to know how to put extra funds to the most productive use. There is no objective way to determine what does the most good,” after all.

However, we can increase the amount of good we do by making sure that we are not, at least, giving our money to organizations that are doing harm. One of those organizations to avoid, especially around the holidays, is the Salvation Army (SA), a church organization with a terrible reputation – especially concerning the harm it does to 2S and LGBTQ+ people. This harm goes beyond homophobic attitudes or biased treatment; it has been proven to be deadly.

Rafaella Gunz at Gay Star Support expands in an article on the harmful history of the SA, including its direct link to the death of one of the people it claims to serve. In 2008, the Salvation Army refused Jennifer Gale entry to the women’s area of one of their homeless centres. They did this because she was transgender and told her she would have to stay with the men.

As last week was the Transgender Day of Remembrance, we have just been reminded of the reality that trans women are at a tremendous risk for violence in situations like the one presented to Gale. Rather than put herself at that risk, Gale slept outside that night in freezing temperatures, which contributed to a heart attack that killed her. Gale’s death has since motivated many to fight anti-trans discrimination in shelters, specifically.

For me, this “charity’s” direct responsibility for a woman’s death is reason enough to direct my resources away from the SA. In fact, it is incredibly and horribly likely that what happened to Gale is one of multiple cases where their policies have resulted in death. However, it does not end (or begin) in 2008.

In 1998 in the United States, the SA collected signatures in an attempt to stop the decriminalization of homosexuality. They have included links on their website to conversion therapy organizations as resources for “sex addiction.” Their church’s official stance is that “scripture opposes homosexual practices by direct comment and also by clearly implied disapproval. The Bible treats such practices as self-evidently abnormal . . . Attempts to establish or promote such relationships as viable alternatives to heterosexually-based family life do not conform to God’s will for society.”

As a church with this stance, everything the Salvation Army does opposes the rights of 2S and LGBTQ+ people. For those who do find themselves its care, first-hand testimony has also been damning: @milknmuffins on Twitter started a thread documenting her experiences which included black mold in the facilities, stealing the clothing of women who stay in its shelters and selling it in their thrift stores, and people at the shelters being thrown out by staff for reasons like asking staff to keep their voices down. This thread was screenshotted and shared, but has since been taken down because the user was harassed after speaking out.

So where can you give your money if not to those bell-ringers? This writer personally recommends being as direct as possible. When you see a person who needs money that you have – whether it be a stranger in person or online, or a person in your social circle – literally just give them that money.

Do not trust organizations that you don’t absolutely understand to use your resources on behalf of others, especially not when people are most knowledgeable about their own needs. Provide the means for people to provide for themselves, in proportion with what you are able to give, and most importantly, do this throughout the entire year. Have a nice December, and remember to hold each other up.

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