Dear Salvation Army, You Don’t Deserve My Charity This Christmas

Christmas is coming, and this is the time we all think about which charities to support and how to give to the less-fortunate. Maybe you’ve seen the red kettles around and heard the jingle bells in the mall. Maybe you’ve seen the Salvation Army officers manning the kettles, smiling and thanking you for supporting the less-fortunate this Christmas. And maybe it gives your heart a warm feeling when you throw in your change and walk away, knowing that the Salvation Army typically has done good things for the homeless and poor in Toronto and other cities around the world.

Except that though those are my memories of the Salvation Army, I no longer support them. I no longer feel comfortable supporting an organization who has no problem with seeing people like me freeze and starve this holiday season.

I was on Facebook yesterday and saw a post by a good friend of mine, stating that the Sally Ann is planning to shut down soup kitchens in New York City if they are forced to adhere to civil rights laws, which would prevent them from hiring and firing gay employees, providing benefits to partners of gay employees, or discriminating against gay people. I also found an article that details the death of a trans woman, Jennifer Gale, who died because the Salvation Army would have forced her to sleep and shower with men as opposed to recognizing her status as a transgender woman. She was denied shelter at one of their homeless shelters for being transgender, and died of a cardiac arrest and exposure from the cold.

Tell me, is this what Jesus would do, Salvation Army?

I have really good memories of helping the Sally Ann at Christmas time and other times. I really thought I was making a difference, that people would be able to eat and find shelter in Canada’s cold winter weather. And now I feel as if the scales have fallen from my eyes – but I’m not just enlightened, I’m saddened.

Are we less human to you, Sally Ann, because we happen to love the same sex or feel ourselves born into the wrong body? Are we to die on the streets, starving and cold, because you can’t bring yourself to agree with who we are? Because if you look back, Jesus fed and clothed people of every religion, race, and colour. He helped prostitutes, sinners, and thieves. And gay and trans people are far from sinners and thieves . . . they’re desperate people who are asking for your helping hand.

How can you turn your backs on them? How can you use them as pawns in a political game you’re playing just so that you can be intolerant and hateful?

Remember that no one is exempt from judgement. And by your rules, the meek and poor shall inherit the earth . . . no matter their sexual orientation, no matter their gender status.

I refuse to support the Salvation Army this Christmas, and I encourage everyone reading this to refuse to do it, too. Human rights don’t stop because you don’t agree with who that person is. Everyone deserves basic dignity.

Shame on you, Salvation Army. Shame on you.

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