They are everywhere this time of year - at the entrances of supermarkets, in the hallways of malls, by the exits of beer and liquor stores.
They use a number of gimmicks to attract your attention, are usually polite, and all want the same thing - your money.
I am talking about the Salvation Army, and I want to encourage you not to let the bell-ringers convince you to make a contribution to their organization.
Last year I learned that the Salvation Army is a despicably
homophobic organization. The Canadian chapter "believes marriage is the covenanting together of one man and one woman for life in a union to the exclusion of all others." It has similarly unenlightened views about gays and lesbians (but does
not condone violence). Different chapters (countries) have different
policies, some of which state that being gay is a sin
before God and must be corrected.
Despite its generally successful efforts to portray themselves as an inclusive organization serving anyone in need, in practice it is ecumenical - serving folks of all religious backgrounds, as long as they are Christian (or willing to consider becoming so). I have heard that some branches offer food, coffee, and extra breaks to employees who attend daily prayer groups.
"The Salvation Army exists to share the love of Jesus Christ." The Canadian chapter's mission statement reveals that the primary purpose of your money and gifts is to proselytize the Good Word. I was shocked to discover this about the Salvation Army, given its ubiquity; perhaps others will be surprised as well.
I will not contribute anything to the Salvation Army,
regardless of their other good works. They operate under false pretences, using the goodwill of others as a club to evangelize, and consider the words written on a piece of
parchment millennia ago by desert nomads to be more important than the well-being of
their fellow contemporary human beings. I encourage everyone instead make a donation to organizations that are genuinely charitable. Given the multiple disaster areas around the world, from the wreckage left by extreme weather events to the horrific human consequences of war, I recommend Médecins Sans Frontière (Doctors Without Borders).