A Reason Not To Support the Salvation Army This Holiday Season December 9, 2010

A Reason Not To Support the Salvation Army This Holiday Season

***Update***: The Salvation Army in Canada has put out a statement saying that what occurred in the Calgary branch is not in line with national policy:

The Salvation Army has no policy against distributing Harry Potter or similar toys and, in fact, these types of toys are donated and distributed in some areas. Decisions about what to distribute are made at the local level, often in consultation with parents of recipients and based on years of feedback. The Salvation Army is sensitive to what parents feel is appropriate for their children and choices sometimes have to be made. In cases where donations are not usable by The Salvation Army, these toys are generally given to other organizations for their use.

Let’s say you want to donate some gifts to needy children this Christmas. You go to the store, buy some Harry Potter and Twilight toys, and toss them in a local Salvation Army dropbox.

Turns out your gifts won’t be getting to any children. The Salvation Army is just throwing them away:

The Salvation Army says it refuses to distribute Harry Potter and Twilight toys collected for needy children because they’re incompatible with the charity’s Christian beliefs.

“I asked if these toys went to another charitable organizations but was told no, that by passing these toys on to another agency for distribution would be supporting these toys,” said the man, who wouldn’t give his name due to his occupation.

If there’s one thing needy children want, it’s protection from fictional witches and vampires courtesy of Jesus’ followers. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled with the news.

But it’s ok, because the Salvation Army (known as “Sally Ann” in Canada) is approving a few other toys instead:

“I was told to withhold a six-inch Harry Potter figure, but when I picked up a plastic M-16, I was told, ‘That’s for the 10-year-olds,'” he said.

“I was shocked…war-themed toys and toys from TV shows and movies with far more violence than Harry Potter and these were considered appropriate toys?”

Always nice to see Christian values in action…

(via Skeptic Money)

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  • gwen

    They are also a CULT. You cannot marry outside of the Salvation Army ranks and I believe they have rules about the rank of the male and the female. Some people have been in there for years, and lose everything if they break one of their stupid little ‘christian’rules.

  • gwen

    Salvation Army: Christian Cult

    December 4, 2008 by Brandon

    “As if I didn’t already have enough reasons not to donate to the Salvation Army – truly, the waggling of their cacophonous bells every year is more than enough – they’ve now earned cult status.

    For those who only think of the Salvation Army as a bunch of people who ring bells for money every winter season, well, you’re in for a surprise. The organization is literally managed like a military operation. There are officers and rules and regulations and so on.

    One rule for officers is… wait for it… they can only marry another officer, or they’re kicked out of the organization.

    That’s what’s about to happen to Capt. Johnny Harsh, leader of the Oshkosh, Wis. Salvation Army. He’s engaged and planning a wedding in June, but to an outsider, effectively costing him his job within the organization.

    Harsh became engaged after losing his wife, Capt. Yalanda Harsh, to complications of a heart attack last June, but his new squeeze isn’t affiliated with the Salvation Army.

    As for my opposition to the organization itself, well… it’s a church. Quite literally. But on the other hand, it’s also a multi-billion dollar organization with tax-exemption status that can legally discriminate against homosexuals because it is classified as a church. This doesn’t jive with me.

    Furthermore, the charity watchdog AIP, American Institute of Philanthropy, expressed concern over the governing structure of the organization, as it lacks an independent governing board that most large charity groups have to ensure that funds aren’t misappropriated and things aren’t swept out of the public’s eye. And since they are tax-exempt, they don’t have to report any of their finances. However, in 1996, statements show over $2 billion in income and $1.6 billion in expenses for the fiscal year. So out of the 2 billion they received, $1.6 billion was used in organizational expenses.”

  • We all know they are homophobic, right? I want to petition them right out of our malls where they beg for money. This is even more reason.

  • Anonymous

    All right! Good TV coverage on CTV too.
    Thanks for the heads up, anonymous voluteer!

  • Tony Konrath
  • @Not Guilty:

    Yeah, that’s why I refuse to support them.

  • Robert Tobin

    Not only that but I got the Salvo’s truck out to collect some furniture. It was not in perfect condition so the driver refused to take it. Christ, some poor person would have accepted it no matter what condition it is in.

  • Well I’m genuinely shocked. I’d always considered the Sally Army to be one of the better Christian charities. I’ve only ever heard good things about them in the past. Sure they were irritating and pompous but I always thought that they did a good job and kept from proselytizing when there was actually good work to be done.

    I feel compelled to explore this further and to give them the benefit of the doubt until such time as further evidence is collated.

  • Kaylya

    @Robert Tobin

    I’m pretty sure they take furniture to sell in their thrift stores rather than to distribute to poor people.

  • Anonymous

    Wat. Last year the Salvation Army in Houston required proof of residency before they would distribute gifts to the kids?
    (Some toy drives check immigration status, Houston Chronicle)

  • ewan

    So, a religious charity, doing non proselytising work, turns out to put an unacceptable religious spin on it anyway.

    Shocker. Who could have seen that sort of thing coming?

  • I’ve been boycotting the Salvation Army all my adult life — before I even got to there is no God. Basically they always seemed extreme to me. There was something too cultlike, too Christian soldier about them, to trust. Since the scandal hit with them making employees swear to not just belief in god but in god as they see him, I’ve just felt I was right about them to begin with.

    What irritates me is the Marines’ Toys for Tots used to take used toys and won’t anymore. I can understand the no to stuffed animals given how they’ve found they’re godawful germ carriers but when they began, they used to take used toys of any kind and clean them and make any repairs necessary. I used to get my daughter to give up many this way before Santa’s arrival to make way for the new and to help out kids even poorer than we were. (I told her Santa didn’t know where every kid was — it was just after Reganomics created homeless children — and also she knew that there were kids like I was when I was a kid. My mother didn’t allow Santa but sure as heck took charity.)

    It was an excellent thing to do: recycled toys, encouraged giving on the part of more fortunate kids and the poor kids got refurbished toys (if they weren’t reparable, they didn’t give them). I haven’t given since they stopped accepting used toys. I can barely afford to buy for the children in my life. And I rather wish there was something like this to encourage my grandson to relinguish a share of his toys every year.

  • Heh, well said, ewan.

  • Justsayin’

    I stopped donating to them when I found out that the CEO makes an income of a million a year so this just gives me another reason not to give them my hard earned dollars. Great post now followin’ & supportin’

  • Danny Wuvs Kittens

    There’s a lot more, Hermant.

    In 1986, the Salvation Army gathered signatures against the repeal of a New Zealand law criminalizing homosexuality. (http://tinyurl.com/2vfpvba)

    In 2000, the Salvation Army in Scotland spoke out against the repeal of Section 28, which prohibited schools from treating homosexuality as acceptable. (http://tinyurl.com/yb4hvnr)

    In 2001, the Salvation Army secretly made a deal with the Bush administration to exempt them from local ordinances outlawing discrimination against gay people. The deal fell through when internal SA documents were exposed by the Washington Post. (http://tinyurl.com/5e3awh)

    In 2004, the Salvation Army threatened to close all their soup kitchens and homeless shelters in New York City instead of following an ordinance requiring city contractors to provide equal benefits to domestic partners. Discriminating against gays was more important to them than helping the poor. (http://tinyurl.com/2ef7kdm)

    Here’s the video that first brought them to my attention http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXcSQ6OW6oA&feature=channel

    Here’s the facebook page I got the links from


    There’s a small movement to boycott the salvation army, but its just that; small. I’d appreciate if you could perhaps make a follow up post and use some of your considerable influence to get the word out into the mainstream. Thanks. Keep up the good work!

  • The Harry Potter thing is an outrage, surely, but the Salvation Army’s doing kids a favor by chucking those Twilight toys.

  • Randy

    The military organization is why Russia wouldn’t let them in the country. Would you want a paramilitary religious group, kinda sounds like the Marines, running around your country unattended?

    ps-Just kidding Marines 😉

  • Did anyone else see the contradictory information in the article? One man says he was told they dispose of the toys, yet further down the article it says:

    “But she said the charity delivers those toys to other agencies that then distribute them.

    “They’re distributed in another manner where parents can choose,” she said, though she couldn’t name any of those other agencies.”

  • Maria

    I almost wouldn’t be disgusted if they withheld Twilight from children for its atrocious writing, anti-woman sentiment, horrible promotion of abusive relationships as an ideal, and criminal over-use of the word “chagrin”, but withholding it just cuz it’s got vampires in it?


  • Trace

    It is because of the headmaster, isn’t it?
    I totally knew it.

  • cypressgreen

    Thanks for the info. I shared it on Facebook.

  • Kim

    Thank you so much for this article. I had no idea that the Salvation Army was like this. No longer will I drop my change into their little red kettles.

  • Anonymous

    Well didn’t Joe Hill have something to say about this back in 1911. I never realized the phrase “Starvation Army” came from him.

  • Sam

    To make a long story short, they wouldn’t let a community service group I was part of work their soup kitchen on a Sunday. And we were told this by an old man in some kind of paramilitary uniform. Crazy and sad. People still need to eat on Sunday!

    Unless of course, the sky god eliminated hunger on Sundays.

  • bubbie

    sure, only one of you commenting read the original article…that makes you so much better than stupid christian people….

  • Ibis

    I’m surprised at you, Hermant. After all, they’re giving these toys away without any overt proselytising. And I’m sure their stand against gays won’t prevent them from distributing the toys to kids with married gay parents. I think you should be building some bridges and encourage people to give to them anyway. Or at least remain neutral and present the option. There aren’t many secular organisations doing the work that the Sally Ann does.

  • ps-Just kidding Marines

    well… i guess we’ll let you off the hook, Randy. this time. 😉

    i stopped patronizing SA stores when i found out about how they won’t feed the starving until after they have listened to the mandatory sermon about jeebus. that’s just cruel. i also find their bell ringers some of the most annoying con artists ever; good gravy do i not need that kind of guilt trip when i’m trying to shop in the midst of the holiday shopping insanity. i’m actually sort of surprised they continue to seemingly thrive; nutjob stories about them have been out there for a long time. i use the secular volunteer campus organization we have in this town instead, when i have stuff to donate.

  • Sebastian

    YouTube atheist ZJemptv has over the past few weeks called for a boycott of the Salvation Army:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXcSQ6OW6oA “Boycott The Salvation Army”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLF2AVZ94uA “The Salvation Army: Doing ‘the most good’?”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgpc-6jecfQ “Status quo bias, charity, and the trolley problem”

    There are some excellent points in the videos, also addressing objections from critics.

    The channel is very good in general and worth subscribing to.

  • Ibis, I’m not sure if you’re serious or not. There was, after all, a big flap last year (or a few years back, can’t remember) about some SA shops in the southern US doing residency checks before giving out toys to make sure they weren’t giving toys to illegal aliens.

  • Craig

    I don’t know if the SA is a worthy charity or not, but they are denying that there is any organization-wide policy about rejecting HP or Twilight toys or anything else, and that the story is either a “miscommunication” or a decision made by someone at a local level.

  • Nakor

    @Ibis: What is possibly wrong with calling out an organization for discarding toys that could have gone to poor children just because of their own extremist beliefs? Actually, there are other organizations that distribute toys to kids. Back in my hometown we had Santas Anonymous, for example. There are better choices than an organization that would accept gifts it intends to discard and that actively opposed gay rights, and if it takes a little effort to find them, well, that effort is worth it.

    Also, I’ve never heard it called Sally Ann before. Must be an east Canadian thing.

  • @Mandi:
    I noticed that, too. Perhaps there are different things being done in different chapters or communities? I’m uncertain.

    All in all, I tend to prefer donating to secular charities anyway.

  • Ro

    the story is plainly false. too many people got up in arms about this one and in the end only kids are hurt. high five for jumping to conclusions, you sound like a bunch of ornery Christians… *sigh*.

    http://tiny.cc/ysi8s http://tiny.cc/2jg78

  • jon

    If you guys want a really good charity to donate to this holiday season, I highly suggest Child’s Play.


    Child’s Play has no religious affiliation. The organization helps sick children in children hospitals by providing toys and video games to children.

    The charity started back in 2003 by the guys that run the pennyarcade web comic.

  • Vas

    Yeah please do explore this further. In fact you may want to look into the organization as a whole not just the Potter/Twilight thing. You might want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it would also be a good idea to withhold the benefit of your donation until after you look into it further. Bad eggs if you ask me.

  • HockeyGuy

    so you think it is ok to discriminate fine then don’t accept help from religious oriented organizations.

    The fact is they believe in something and they hold true to it by not fostering the idea of false idolatry.

    What I find interesting is Christianity is the most accepting and loving and forgiving institution as a whole but it is the most attacked.

    You don’t believe in God Fine have you ever ranted against the Hindu’s or Muslims or Bhudists?

    No and if you did then it would only be a tiny fraction of the time you spend bashing Christians WHO ACTUALLY HAVE ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE SALVATION ARMY… WHERE IS THE ATHEIST CENTER FOR HELP.. for that mater where is the Hindu or Muslim or Shinto type salvation army stores that help anyone in need….

    WAKE UP .. whether you believe in God or not they do this good work BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE IN GOD… and the fact is you and all the rest do nothing but TAKE!

  • Ibis
  • BlueRidgeLady

    I do not know why I was so surprised about this. Their Belief Statements are right there in black and white on their website. They are flatly anti-choice and anti-gay and that is enough for me to never donate to them again.

    When I was in school as a kid, some of us volunteered to be bell ringers. At the time it was rewarding because we were told all the money goes to homeless children and feeding the needy. So not only do they get this tax exempt thing AND they can discriminate against gay people, they get free labor during the xmas season in the form of well-meaning students.

  • crystal

    this is regarding one branch, so local policies may vary — if your local salvation army is doing good work and you usually support them, check in with them regarding their policies before withholding support 🙂

  • bluezinnia

    I know several people who were helped by the Salvation Army and the Red Cross. The Red Cross sent them a bill afterward. The SA never asked for anything in return.
    One friend who lived in Wichita had tornado damage on three separate occasions. The Red Cross just showed up for the pictures, but the SA got in and worked sided by side with the victims.
    The Red Cross pays huge salaries to its directors. Total compensation for the head of the SA and his wife is less than $100,000. Whether we agree with everything about the SA, they still do good work.
    In the same way, I don’t agree with everything Hemant posts, but this site is still worth coming to and provides a valuable service .

  • Paul S

    Looks like this might not be an official policy so much as a local chapter acting out of line.

    No ban on Harry Potter, Twilight Xmas donations, says Sally Ann


  • Staceyjw

    When I was 16 my best friend and I got hired as bell ringers for the SA. You didn’t have to be xtian or anything, no religion was even mentioned. It was just a minimum wage job for the holidays. We got fired during training for bad attitude though- I think I asked why we needed a week of training to learn to ring a bell, and that wasn’t appreciated 😉 Smart ass teens! But realyy, it had nothing at all to do with religion.

    I’ve also heard good things about their services, that they are more open and accepting than most, and aren’t misogynest. The official stance may be against gays, but they don’t practice it at the local level. This came from a feminist atheist, so even though it may not be true everywhere, it is where she goes (ex fundie, goes for community)

    If they are really tossing those toys, I would be surprised

  • Jake

    This story is false. It’s just a single Canadian group that’s refusing HP stuff, not the national organization. http://blogs.chron.com/believeitornot/

  • Joshua

    @ Hockey Guy

    What I find interesting is Christianity is the most accepting and loving and forgiving institution as a whole but it is the most attacked.

    So there anti-homosexual stance is one of acceptance and love? I don’t think so. That is a wholly biased and inaccurate statement.

    WAKE UP .. whether you believe in God or not they do this good work BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE IN GOD… and the fact is you and all the rest do nothing but TAKE!

    Again, you are highly assumptive that atheists do no good works, that means you don’t know what a secular charity is or that some of the most well known ones, like The American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and Direct Relief International, are exactly that. While these organizations may contain religious people, there mission statement and actions are secular: they assist without proselytizing.

    That is the crux, so what if a Christian is helping someone, if that help is dependent upon proselytizing (like handing out Bibles in Haiti) then it is not a “good work.” One can do a good thing for the wrong reasons, that doesn’t mean they are good people. Hitler, for example, was a Christian who honestly believed he was doing his gods will, he fully believed that, so in reality he was doing what he considered to be “good works.”

    What about the people that have killed abortion doctors because their religion convinced them it was okay to do? Since they believed that makes it okay, right?

    My point is this: Doing something because you are told to does not make it a good work. Christians routinely do things to earn “points” in heaven, favors from there god, or to “guarantee” they get into heaven. They do these things to look better in the eyes of their chosen god, not just to help people. They hide behind the work, obfuscating the selfishness inherent to what they are doing. You can know that something is right or you can be told that something is right, Christians get told, and sometimes, they get told the wrong thing.

  • ethinethin

    Well said, ewan and Ibis. All religious charities, no matter how “non-proselytizing” they are, are tainted by their religion.

  • Ibis


    The main reason that we attack Christianity the most, is because that is the majority religion in NA/Europe/A&NZ. It is they with whom we most have to deal day to day and in the realm of politics. If the Muslims or Hindus were in large enough numbers to try to force their creation myths into science classes or the Buddhists or Jains were trying to influence governments to oppress women’s rights or LGBT rights, we would be just as vocal against them.

    The main reason why there are fewer secular charities is because at one time all charity was local parochial charity. The governments started to assume secular control and responsibility for much of that public welfare and the churches went to work filling the gaps. This was at a time when the church was synonymous with the community. Don’t worry, secular charities will grow and become more well known as time goes on. The Salvation Army was a church started in 1865. Oxfam, a similar secular charity, in 1942.

    I find your accusation about all of us being takers and only religious bigots being good givers rather insulting and demonstrably untrue. Take your head out of the place you’ve stored it.

  • Ibis

    @Nakor I’m with you. I’m just surprised that Hemant is too.

    The Salvation Army is:
    * anti gay
    * anti abortion rights
    * anti stem cell research
    * anti euthanasia & assisted suicide
    * not anti capital punishment
    * take a large share of donations for the “administration” of their church
    * have a reputation for tying proselytising to distribution of charity (e.g. making hungry people pray before giving them food)

  • Vas, not to worry. I don’t give to religious charities at all. There are plenty of other good causes available where I can give my money.

  • Xena

    We used to have a kickass secular charity up here. They called themselves Bob Rae’s NDP government. If a family was legitimately down on their luck, with reasonable background checks, the welfare system helped them with up to $650/mo rent and up to $500/mo for food and other needs, with roughly 20% more per additional child capped at three. Daycare was fully funded for people transitioning from welfare to school or work. The welfare office also gave livable allowances for people leaving homeless shelters, in addition to brand new donated mismatched bed sets and vouchers for things like cribs. Back in the day, student loans used to go toward post secondary education and books only, while welfare encouraged people to stay employable by covering their food and shelter costs for up to 4 years while they worked on their diplomas/degrees.

    Then along came Jim Flaherty and the boys *cue Darth Vader music* Our system is pretty close to the US now, rent up to $550 pd directly to the landlord, roughly $340 for food OR utilities (at least they didn’t force that awful food stamp system on us–they sure tried.)Daycare is only covered for working people and working on a highschool diploma no longer leaves a recipient exempt from their BRUTAL job search requirements. Student loans now have to cover tuition AND living expenses. Most people who have to borrow for their tuition end up having to use soup kitchens. I know a few women that turned to sex work to pay the bills. I had to hand my kids over to relatives so they won’t be injured by my on-again off-again housing situation. I’m living like Will Smith’s character in Pursuit of Happyness while I finish my courses. I’m stuck auditing because my funding situation is such a mess.

    I’m telling you, the Sally is about as corrupt as they come. I’d rather sleep in my storage locker than go there. I’ve done it. Here, single people get $200/month for food, and up to $385 for rent. If I declare myself utterly houseless, I still get my $200 and I can pay storage, buy my own brand of shampoo, and pick and choose which soup kitchen food I eat and which food I don’t eat. If I stay at the Sally, my ENTIRE rental amount plus all but $60 of my food money goes to them. They also get an additional funding amount PER PERSON of over $1000!!

    They kick us out EVERY DAY, weekends included, from 9am to 4pm, feed us crap, no produce, no dairy, and give us jail quality hygiene products that itch. Then they f**k us with every rule they can find ala “Nurse Ratshit” from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest so we’ll talk back and they can throw us out before our 30 days, pd for by welfare are up. Then they pocket the barred person’s funding AND the funding for the next person they rope-a-dope into staying there. Working on a 3000 word Archaeology essay and having to hitchhike back during a transit strike are no excuse for being 15 minutes late for an 11pm curfew.

    Thanks but no thanks. I stay at a temporary mental health/battered women’s crisis shelter when they have space. When they don’t I stay in my storage locker. When it’s below -5C (about 25F), I break into places I’m not supposed to be. Yes, it’s illegal, but I don’t steal, unless there’s food around and I’m starving. People don’t normally miss the amount of food I eat.

    I still think that’s better than prostituting myself to get through school. I find the idea of marrying my way out of a bad situation a worse solution than prostitution. 5-10 creeps approach me every week and I tell them all to piss off. I beat one down once. I figure I’ll get my due once I publish my novel 🙂

    In the meantime, I don’t know what to say about donating to the Starvation Army. Yeah, they’re corrupt, yeah, they’re mismanaged. Yeah, I hate them. Moreover, I truly hate the fact that the only people benefitting from these cutbacks are the extremely rich and the churches. But there are thousands of homeless women in the US and Canada who may or may not be as tough as I am. And they don’t have much choice outside of the Sally.

    Ok, don’t give them Harry Potter dolls, but as far as donating to their other programs, maybe look into the most likely way to make sure your donations DO get properly distributed in your area, first.

    And if you all open a Humanist project for the homeless, I will SO volunteer my organizational skills, 40hours a week through any 3 month period between June and November of next year, in exchange for food and a bed. If I’m back on my feet, I will most definitely donate money, blankets and all the rest. If I ever make my millions as a writer, I’ll give my money AND my fame to Foundation Beyond Belief. It’s a great project. The poor so desperately need help without the policing. Thanks for giving it.

  • No offence Ibis but that could apply to any group of Christians or Christian charity. I know something about the SA actions in the Victorian period (yeah, we Brits shipped our dregs off to the former colonies and the Salvation Army paid for it) but other than their underlying computer system (Domino) I’ve got no real understanding of them at all.

    Given my complete ignorance and what I understood to be a positive reputation I’m still withholding judgment till I find out more. Your comments (like those of any other person) are to be treated sceptically as assertions without supporting evidence. I know that sounds a tad harsh but that’s just the kind of guy I am. 😉

    There are some interesting links here though. Possibly even enough to count as preliminary evidence.

  • Xena

    Btw, Sally Ann is a spoofy name derived from something with the same connotations as Pollyanna or ‘cupcake’. It’s used to make fun of the whole church lady beating the ‘savages’ over the head with her bible thing. I thought the only people who used it were the ‘inmates’. I won’t be surprised if people get pissed at that newspaper for using it. The use of that expression is akin to a mainstream journalist calling a prison guard a ‘screw’, in my experience.

  • Xena

    That’s fair, hoverfrog. As numerous other commenters have pointed out, different SA branches have different policies. If you’re in the UK, they may be a radically different organization. Healthy skepticism and rational decision making are always the best course of action.

  • Joe

    For years my Dad has skipped the Salvation Army and just done things directly. I don’t know if it’s him silently protesting them, or the fact that he hates middle men.

    But every year on Christmas Eve we would go to Toys r Us and each of my siblings and I would get a shopping cart and fill it with toys. Then Dad would pay for all of them, and we would drive over to a local orphanage and quietly donate them to the organization.

    He always said that we should never ask for a thank you, or public recognition. I even feel bad writing about it now. But it was something I thought made a difference in those kid’s lives, and that’s more than I can say for what the Salvation Army is doing these days. So skip them, and donate on your own. It’s possable, and makes a world of difference. 🙂

  • Amanda

    My apologies if this has been posted but I thought it should be known that the Salvation Army has posted a counter statement to this story:
    SA Statement

    I still have my misgivings about this organization but perhaps the report of them throwing these toys away was somewhat blown out of proportion?
    Worth a thought, at the very least.

  • Hmm… the strangest part of this story for me was reading that big about Salvation Army being known as “Sally Ann” in Canada. I’m born and raised in Canada, and I’ve never heard of anyone calling them “Sally Ann”

  • Xena

    Tony K, that is appalling. I missed your link the first time. Everybody who misses Tony Konrath’s story because you’re way down here at the bottom of this very full comment wall, go back and read it! Didn’t the Obama Administration just pass a bunch of anti-hate crime legislation? Get up in your politicians’ faces about this. It’s awful! Pass Tony’s story on.

  • Xena

    Thanks for confirming that for me, Larry. You’ve probably never heard the term because you’re not part of a crowd that frequently needs charity. I was starting to wonder if the term’s pejorative connotations were only applicable in certain parts of the country. Nope. It’s a class thing.

  • Xena

    Joshua, nice point about Doctors Without Borders. If you want to read the tear jerker of your life, check out The Oath by MSF award winning Chechen doctor, Khassan Baev. I’ve never heard of a devout Muslim man living through such horror who managed to express such unbiased compassion for humanity in everything he said and did, in spite of his torment. I was pleasantly surprised by what I learned of his faith as he practised it.

    No, hockeyguy, Xtians aren’t the only charitable people in the world. The fifth pillar of Islam requires that believers give to the poor. In a rich nation like Canada, I can actually see the results of Muslim generosity, when I look closely. In other places run by Islamist whackjobs, well, let’s just say you wouldn’t catch me vacationing there. Muslims are much less showy about their charities, tho. I think it has something to do with their beliefs about humility before Allah.

    And many of the posts on this site are wholly dedicated to knocking the stupid things that Muslims, Jews and astrology worshippers do. They don’t discriminate here. Stupid religious hangups are stupid religious hangups. They all annoy us equally. Where were you during Boobquake? Draw Mohammed Day?

  • Methodissed

    As a teenage runaway I stayed at different Salvation Army’s from time to time. They always required me to attend a church service before feeding me (bastards).

    If you look at their mission statement, their primary focus is creating Christians. Their alleged humanitarian focus is merely a way of preying on vulnerable people to promote their intolerant mythology.

  • Godless Girl covered this last year at

    God’s “army” does a fantastic job of having themselves featured in daily news cycles. Every year we hear about a kettle being stolen leaving me to wonder how many “make-up” donations are made as a result of their “misfortune.” The obligatory “anonymous” gold coin feature always get them some free screen time as well.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    @Hockey Guy-

    Really sick of Christians even having the gall to pretend they are so persecuted and picked on. Christianity is possibly the world’s biggest bully.

    I can’t go outside my door w/o seeing public-funded decorations that celebrate YOUR holiday (or at least the holiday of the religion you are championing). Come cry to me after the entire last 1/4 of the calendar year is dedicated to celebrating reason, and is absolutely everywhere in your country, from your restaurants to hardware stores.

  • Anonymous

    Frankly, with the high profile of good secular charities, I don’t know why anybody would struggle with the decision whether to donate to SA or not.
    Non-believers Giving Aid
    Foundation Beyond Belief
    The Red Cross
    The Gates Foundation
    Who’s got time for some Bible thumping bigots after all these good alternatives?


    so you think it is ok to discriminate fine

    No, the Salvation Army thinks it’s okay to discriminate. And if you’re defending the SA, then you think it’s okay to discriminate. Not acceptable.

  • This story doesn’t surprise me in the least. Luckily, I’ve never donated to the Salvation Army. I wouldn’t give money to a religious charity anyway, even if they were progressive, which the SA decidedly is not.

    For people hoping to donate gifts for needy children, your community should have plenty of secular alternatives. The police, firefighters, and various branches of the armed forces tend to have toy drives. Literacy organizations often have book drives. My favorite secular charity is The Family Giving Tree, which allows you to purchase a specific toy that a child has requested. For anyone not in the area, you can also fulfill holiday wishes online.

  • Ibis

    @Anonymous & Xena,

    Don’t necessarily count FBB as a secular charity. As Hemant told us earlier this week, part of their mandate is to forward donations to selected religious charities. They are giving donors the option of opting out, but as an organisation they’re promoting those promoting religion (as long as it’s not too flamboyant).

    As for the statement by the Salvation Army in this case? Damage control. They don’t want the negative publicity, so what are they going to say, eh?

  • Xena

    Thanks, Ibis. I saw that article. Like I mentioned above, I don’t have a problem with some faith minded individuals, Muslims, Jews, Xtians, Wiccans, what have you. It’s the bigotry that bothers me. I’ve blasted secular misogynists on this site for their hate speech too. Ideologues don’t have to have a god to be assholes or monsters even. Remember Stalin? Pol Pot? How about Canadian philosopher David Gauthier?

    It’ll be awhile before I have enough of anything to donate anything but my time to any charity. That gives me plenty of time to research what the FBB does for the worshipful and their charities. The opt out option is there if I don’t like what I see, but I may decide that I do. I won’t know until I check it out, right?

  • this got me thinking…
    what do atheist charities do when religious themed toys are donated?

  • L. Foster

    Now, I don’t claim to know Jesus (though I did just start following him on Twitter…) but I’m pretty sure that, at least in the documentation that groups such as SA follow, he doesn’t say, “Sure, I’ll heal the sick and comfort the downtrodden! But before I do…” Again, grain of salt and all, but I seem to recall Jesus not tying strings to his mercy. And these guys claim to be followers of his doctrine? Puh-leeze.

  • Dan Covill

    I just sent my annual $1,000 check to the Salvation Army, and I’ll do it again next year also. Yes, they’re way-out-there Christians, but their admin ratio is one of the lowest of charities. As someone said, compare salary levels with the Red Cross.

    They may discriminate in their hiring (I believe they have a right to as a religious organization), but to my knowledge they do not do so in their giving. And they give a lot.

    When I was about 10 a Salvation Army rep came to our house looking for donations. My mother jokingly said “Maybe we should be getting help instead of giving it!” They guy looked around (we had a wood-burning stove and an outdoor toilet), pulled out a notebook and pencil, and said “What do you need?” My mother never forgot it, and neither did I. Their religion is nutso, but when someone is in need they deliver.

  • nikki

    wow,i had no idea…i just knew the salvation army was a charity….but damn….i am SO sick of this christain bullsh*t stuff…. everytime something like this goes on its ussully cuz of ‘christains’ or SOME other religious crap..*sigh* hm then again i kinda always had a hunch maybe the salvation army had believes like this…im also kinda offende cuz i like harry potter!! whats wrong with that?? oh yeah and ive dabbled in wicca before so ha!! nothings wrong with that unless you have ill intentions…i would LIKE to say that i have always vibrated nothing but love and positivetly…i dont need a controling organized religion for that..

  • Anonymous

    I just sent my annual $1,000 check to the Salvation Army, and I’ll do it again next year also.

    Good for you. You’re funding the fight against equality and equal protection under law. Wear it with pride. 🙁

  • Their religion is nutso, but when someone is in need they deliver.

    …as long as you’re not gay. I don’t see how any amount of good deeds makes up for actively trying to stop fellow humans from having equal rights.

  • Ibis


    Sure. I just wanted to give you a heads up in case you missed the previous article. I myself have no problem with the faith-minded per se, I’m just leery of their organised groups especially when it comes to charity, education, and politics. By the way, whereabouts in Ontario are you (just curious, so if you tell me it’s none of my business that’s cool)?

  • Xena

    Ibis, I don’t normally do this because I’ve griped about professional difficulties (namely the classist shite that contributed to my need for shelters in the first place) on other sites. I guess I wouldn’t be identifying anybody if I mentioned my city here. I’m in London *cue Sweeney Todd music* and I hate it here. Canadians tend to be more secular on average than Americans, but there are little pockets of religious/fiscal conservatives everywhere. Calgary is one of them. London is another one. I go to UWO, and I’m often shocked by some of the attitudes here. I’m a Toronto girl at heart. I had no idea I was enrolling in a school with 3 affiliated bible colleges and a monolith of a philosophy dept. on campus. Hindsight being 20/20, I would have gone to UofT.

    But I have worked with some very cool profs too, including a former Saskatchewan fundie, our version of Quiverfull. He discovered astronomy, physics and logic while he was working on his Philosophy MA, and tossed his god. He teaches Boobquake in first year epistemology and Homer Simpson in classes on Free Will and determinism. He was fun to work with.

    Our Archaeology dept. here is world class. Our scientists are making history right now.

    Why do you ask?

  • Maple

    I’m astounded by how many people are quick to believe this article and the following comments without doing any research on the issue themselves. The Salvation Army makes decisions locally, not universally. They are an Evangelical Church and like other Christian churches, do not support gay marriage or homosexuality; however, their statement on homosexuality is “…in keeping with these convictions, the services of The Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation.”

    I was an employee at The Salvation Army and was not and still am not a Christian. Nowhere on the application did they ask what my religion or sexual orientation was. I believe, to this day, that if our Major knew that I was Agnostic, I still would have been hired for the job. I never told them, not out of fear for my job, but out of respect for their beliefs. They hold employee dedication services during the week, which I did not attend and was never given any grief for my lack of attendance.

    I also am pro same sex marriage. I have many friends who are gay and I believe in their right to marry and have benefits through work places. Does working for the Salvation Army make me anti gay? No. I still held my own personal beliefs. The Salvation Army gave me a job when I was in dire need, without questioning my beliefs.

    The people I worked with are good and honest people. I didn’t agree with all of their beliefs, but you won’t find that at any job.

  • Frank

    Here’s an Update for you:
    The Salvation Army blames Calgarian Families for not getting a Harry Potter Book.

    What a lame excuse! Didn’t God tell you to tell the truth. Not only is it well known they have to marry within the “army” they also can not admit they are lesbian or gay. And, forget about getting a divorce there goes your ‘rank’. Yet, they prefer to take people’s donations and get paid. This organization disgusts me by the minute with all their remarkable deceptions. Monkey See, Monkey Do.

    Holier than Thou…the rep can’t even get her facts straight. Where do the toys go??? Are they even put into the recycling bin? Do these people read books other than the Bible? The public knows that they are not well educated, they are preachers not world class business intellects. No wonder the public are wary of religious charities; why give your hard earned money to an organization that proudly has a sour superiority complex? It seems that it is the volunteers who actually do good deeds and make things happen.

    BTW, the Potter books have sold over 400 million, are parents and their kids sorcerers? Is Queen Elizabeth II one as well when she held a kids party at The Palace in 2006 and invited the author, J. K. Rowling? And, have you seen the army’s mascot Sally Ann – she needs to be “dumped” and fast. The book actual has a moral stance, good vs. evil. But of course, you wouldn’t know because you are too busy collecting money from the public in pubs (UK) – hypocrites.

    Are the business leaders in this city so oblivious to attach their name to an organization that does not encourage children to read, to imagine, to make choices, to learn what fiction is? There are other charities that are much better deserving and appreciative of: volunteers’ time; gifts; and money; especially around this time of year.

    P.S. Get rid of those damn bells in the malls, your made up titles and your drab army suits – they do not mean a thing in the real world – again why is this organization allowed to be there while others are not? Congratulations to the reporter Bill Kaufmann and to the volunteer for” shifting the clouds” so we can see clearer.

  • so you think it is ok to discriminate fine then don’t accept help from religious oriented organizations.

    Don’t worry. I already refuse to. Basically, because the following has not been my experience with them:

    What I find interesting is Christianity is the most accepting and loving and forgiving institution as a whole but it is the most attacked.

    In fact, they tend to go on the attack when you don’t pledge your non-existent soul (along with 10% of all future income) to them in return. Loving? Forgiving? Like fuck.

    And I fail to see why you overgeneralize all non-Christians as not giving. That’s just plain bigotry on your part. The Red Cross — one of the largest and most effective charties in the world — is secular. So is Doctors Without Borders and a score of others.

    I’ll accept kindnesses from individual Christians who do so because they care but Xian organizations — I’d rather die first. They only offer because they want to freaking enslave you.

    The Red Cross sent them a bill afterward.

    Bullshit! I’ve been helped by the Red Cross following a fire. Never asked me for one red cent. I give to them but haven’t been targeted once. I gave to them before; I’ve gave to them after but at the usual drives to the public and knowing their address and seeing the good work they do. Not once did they ever send me a we put you up in a motel, gave you first month’s rent and security deposit and gave you three separate vouchers (food, clothing and household goods, and furniture), don’t you think you owe us. Not once and it’s been 14 years since they gave me in goods what had to amount to several thousand dollars.

    I was an employee at The Salvation Army and was not and still am not a Christian. Nowhere on the application did they ask what my religion or sexual orientation was. I believe, to this day, that if our Major knew that I was Agnostic, I still would have been hired for the job. I never told them, not out of fear for my job, but out of respect for their beliefs.

    You’re very lucky then but, of course, you haven’t really put this to the test, have you? As you yourself admit, you haven’t told them. I suspect there’s a reason beyond respect why you stay in the closet like maybe subconsciously realizing that respect is one-way only. I suggest you only risk it to prove the point if you can afford to lose your job.

  • We gave to the salvation army for years, money in the kettle, and massive clothes and other household items. This year when my husband who is only 49 years old, had a bad heart attack and almost died, we had no money coming in at all, I went to the salvation army to try and get some help with his medicine, all we needed was help with the copays, we still had insurance, one of the copays was $50 and the woman at the desk said were probably not going to be able to help you, before I even got a chance to talk to anyone eles. After filling out the paperwork and a long wait, they paid $90 toward medicine. We had to go to the pharmacy of their choice and that officer made me feel like we shouldn’t be helped at all. We were also told that was all they were going to do for us, so don’t come back. I will never donate to them again.

  • j_omassys

    @ the money in the red kettle- they’re witches- burn them ahhhhhh! LOL! Is good will secular? They and salvation army are very picky about accepting items for donation. I think I will stick with the red cross.

  • Christina

    Non-Christians are often angry because they feel they are oppressed by Christians, but then in turn, they oppress Christians for their beliefs. Not a good cycle.

    If this were any other religion, would you all be making this big of an issue? Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist? If it represents what they go against, it makes sense for them not to support the distribution of those items to children. I totally agree with the point about the guns- that is very hypocritical for them to promote one thing against their religion and reject another.

    It just does not seem that this article/these comments are coming from a place of seeking understanding. Coexistence is impossible with the combination of ignorance and resentment.

  • Lornacausey

    Hey,  chill with the insults…The salvation Army is a giving christian organization.  It has faults like all of us…I guarantee that all of us can be spotted doing something off even on our best behavior.    Many times we become critical due to some other deeper injury of the heart and soul.  If you are a soldier in the Army you can marry who you want.  Becoming an officer/pastor have a different perspective but everyone knows this coming in to it.    We continue to shop, go to school, take airplanes in spite of the flaws……….Jude 1:10 (NIV)
    10 Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals–these are the very things that destroy them.

    Pls let us not just speak boldly and foolishly about things we do not understand…

  • Thomas1

    Here’s a brief reply…thanks for the truth. SA feed’s us just enough that we don’t drop dead and only food that’s already going bad. Then in the front door the Rotary Club and other groups’ get fed by the chef. Client’s get the crap. Out the back door of the warehouse go all the tool’s power equipment, Nike shoes etc. etc. God Help Us! 

  • thomas1

    good for you now go there for help and see if you like staying there.

  • Lazarus61

     yeah, I too have been there and and done that, the same salvo rules apply in Australia, out of your rooms by 8 am. and not allowed back in until 1.00 pm. they also go in and search through your (meager) belongings for contraband and if you are careless enough to leave anything valuable (what would a homeless person have that’s valuable?) laying around, it will go missing. They charge rent for homeless people, oh yes, nothing is free and if you think you are getting charity be prepared to pay for it. They are a hypocritical society disguised  as a charity, funny enough, all the majors drive around in the most luxurious cars and live in top notch accommodation all provided by the Salvos. have sen many of the Majors in civilian clothes, in bars, drinking and smoking apparently a no no according to their bullshit philosophy!

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