Black Friday and Keeping Those Kettles in the Red

Keeping the kettles in the red on Black Friday and the rest of 2009.

Bing-a Bing-a Bing-a Bing-a Bing-a Bing-a Bing.

Today, its Thanksgiving. Tomorrow is the all important US Holiday, Black Friday. As you walk into your mega stores and shopping malls, you’ll hear the binga binga of those Salvation Army Bell Ringers. You can hear it all the way back in Row Z level Florida at the mall, really. Its loud and its ring hangs in the air with just a twinge of guilt and an all too familiar sound that Christmas is near. So—I want to talk to you about these little quarters, cents, dimes and dollars that you stuff in there, looking sweetly at the kind “homeless looking” man or young adorable child who is bing bing binging the bell and blessing and thanking you as you enter your shopping destination. (to spend oodles and oodles, like $450 BILLION, on presents… another topic, another post, anyway…)

Do you know what the Salvation Army has to say about homosexuality? Well, you should. Here I’ll give it to you right here.


The Salvation Army holds a positive view of human sexuality. Where a man and a woman love each other, sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage. However, in the Christian view, sexual intimacy is not essential to a healthy, full, and rich life. Apart from marriage, the scriptural standard is celibacy.
Sexual attraction to the same sex is a matter of profound complexity. Whatever the causes may be, attempts to deny its reality or to marginalize those of a same-sex orientation have not been helpful. The Salvation Army does not consider same-sex orientation blameworthy in itself. Homosexual conduct, like heterosexual conduct, requires individual responsibility and must be guided by the light of scriptural teaching.

Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage.

Likewise, there is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for reason of his or her sexual orientation. The Salvation Army opposes any such abuse.

In keeping with these convictions, the services of The Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation. The fellowship of Salvation Army worship is open to all sincere seekers of faith in Christ, and membership in The Salvation Army church body is open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.

Scriptures: Genesis 2:23-24; Leviticus 18:22; Mark 2:16-17; Romans 1:26-27; Romans 5:8; I Corinthians 6:9-11; I Corinthians 13; Galatians 6:1-2; I Thessalonians 4:1-8; I Thessalonians 5:14-15; I Timothy 1:15-16; Jude 7

So queer friends and allys—how does that make YOU feel? Me, well those dimes and dollars I know they add up. And the thing is, I’d like to see them add up for organizations who are doing direct care, who DON’T feel this way. And there are plenty of them. So—I am asking you to join me this year in a little science experiment.

1. This year I will carry around with me a letter, and every time I hear the bell ring, I will walk proudly to it, and deposit this letter, instead of my money. This is my letter. Feel free to rip it off.

Dear Salvation Army:

The holidays are upon us and that means there you are ringing your bells outside of almost every place I shop. This year however, I will be placing this note in your kettle instead of my money—no matter how small or large the donation—to remind you that your position on homosexuality does not line up with my understanding of the God of love and inclusion. Because your understanding of scripture forbids me, I cannot in good conscience support your causes with my money.

The money I would have placed in your kettle will go to another organization like yours, who does not hold the same position statement as you do.

Faithfully, in Christ,

[Your Name], [Your City]

2. I’ll take whatever I had to give from my purse or the change in my pocket and I will put it into an envelope. On Monday December 28th I will count the coins, dollars and lint bits, write a check, and send it to a local direct service charity. I am thinking of Open Arms MN, District 202, or ________. (still not sure)

So, if you are so inclined, join me. Tell me how it goes, how does it feel?

Spread the idea if you like, as the saying goes, the more the merrier.

(I have made an easily printable download of the letter—Salvation Army Kettle Note 2009—for you to use and share!)


6 thoughts on “Black Friday and Keeping Those Kettles in the Red

  1. Rachel…blessings.

    Interesting dilemma…though I think of those at the corner of walk and don’t walk crying out ‘don’t pass me by’…and I imagine, WWJD…of course you know my heart on this as to your question.

    I pay my taxes and hold my nose….and pray…I want no part of them to go to war, without exception….though safety overall is a good thing….I pray for the safety of our military, but not their success…but I don’t for a minute think that gets me off the hook.

    Same too with prisons….hate them…but there needs to be a safe place for those that are held captive by sin, violence, hatred.

    I have not supported the Army for years….not exactly for GLBT issues but because I do not believe that Jesus asks us to look out for the poor and homeless after we try to convert them….

    great question….love, Rex

  2. I would urge contributions to the American Red Cross (ARC), the main “competitor”, if you will, of the Salvation Army. I am a former employee, and learned firsthand the truth behind the bad PR this fine organization had been subjected to after 9/11 and Katrina – sadly due to some strategic scapegoating by the Bush administration (and his media cronies) at the time (ARC operates under a Congressional Charter, which means the current U.S. President acts as Chief of the organization – accounting for some major delays in responding, etc.). After all, you can’t blame FEMA, right? (they actually ARE a govt org, after all…)

    Some facts to consider:
    –ARC is a “neutral” (self-described), non-religious organization, and is an ally to the LGBT community. In 2008, they started extending full health benefits to same-sex partners of employees of ARC, despite major budget crisis issues at the organization. Understand that they had government-quality health benefits, too, which I imagine was no small expense. Even in hardship, I witnessed ARC again and again proceed with the highest integrity.

    –Over 90 cents on the dollar goes directly to program expenses (this was 94 cents before the financial meltdown), which is kind of a miracle given the sheer size of the organization and the vast scope of services that they provide. Read more about their spending on Charity Navigator:

    –Over 95% of the “disasters” ARC responds to are house fires – not big, headline-grabbing events like Katrina. A house fire may not sound like much, but it is a disaster in the lives of the victims involved — the Red Cross arrives at the disaster site with a “comfort kit” for children; blankets; mental health counselors to stay on-site with the victims; and arrange for temporary housing. When my friend, Tammie’s, apt building caught on fire 5 years ago in New York City, the Red Cross were the first on-site after the fire department. Over the span of 20 years, My Dad has lived through many hurricanes in Florida – he says that the Red Cross are always the first ones there to help victims in the aftermath. They are truly everywhere, and I think people don’t really think of them until they actually NEED them for something: after a house fire; a hurricane; a blood transfusion (ARC manages over half of the U.S. blood supply); military assistance; first aid classes, etc., etc..

    –Despite its huge size, the organization has only about 35,000 employees and over 1.3 MILLION volunteers. This is an organization that represents ALL of us.

    I grew to love the Red Cross and the people who work there – some of the finest, incredibly dedicated, honest folks I’ve ever met. I hope people will contribute to ARC, they sorely need funds and give so much back to our communities. You can make a tax-deductible donation to the ARC service of your choice here (it allows you to specify your local chapter if you choose):

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  4. The complexity of the wording of their statement is very interesting and political-sounding. And so like the Catholic Church.

    I really like your idea, which could be adapted to any collecting charity with whose views one disagrees.

    On a slight tangent, one of our local supermarkets has a scheme where there are three permanent charity collection boxes so you choose which to support with your loose change. The charities supported are rotated regularly but – and this is the interesting thing to me – they are all small and very local charities, ranging from pet welfare to supporting the elderly and things like that. I like the fact that this seems more personal than the big multi-national charities. (Although the latter reach places the small ones can’t.)

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