The Salvation Army: The Bell Ringers of Hate

2 Dec
Ringing For Hate

Ringing For Hate

Yes, it is that time of year again. Black Friday ushers in not only conspicuous consumption at the cost of abusing employees not earning a living wage, but it also ushers in the Salvation Army Bell Ringers.  As these “soldiers of god” take over the entrances to malls, shops, and grocery stores across the country, let us remember the facts.  The Salvation Army is rabidly homophobic and misogynistic.

Not only are they homophobic, but they refuse to help or serve the LGBT community.  Before offering any services to LGBT people in need, the Army subjects them to sermons and lectures. They insist that established couples renounce each other before they can receive care. This nasty group is also very anti-choice, insisting that pregnant women not seek abortions if they want services, regardless of what is best for the woman. I guess their Jesus was only charitable to those he deemed qualified for help — who does Jesus hate?

Beyond this hostility to individuals, the Salvation Army is also an aggressive lobbying organization: they have tried (unsuccessfully, fortunately) to overturn or get exemptions from equal access and non-discrimination laws in multiple jurisdictions around the world. In a fit of petulance unbecoming a charitable organization, they have even threatened to close soup kitchens in New York City rather than abide by local non-discrimination laws.

Call to action: I encourage people to help educate bell ringers about the hate being spread by the Salvation Army, while realizing you may not get the empathic response desired. Also, it seems that while some of the bell ringers are volunteers, many of them are earning minimum wage.  While I don’t want to bash people whose intent is good, we must also unpack the impact aside from the intent. There are so many organizations competing for money that can do so much good. I encourage everyone to GIVE, but give to organizations that are inclusive and not exclusive.

This is a season when many people think more actively of giving and want to be charitable. Please honor those instincts, but don’t contribute to organizations that practice hate and bigotry. If you want to find the best place to make your contributions, try the Charity Navigator; if you want to get more actively involved, there are dozens of ways you can give to all of your community. When it comes to those shrill bells, red pots, and artificial smiles? Take some advice from Burt Bacharach and walk on by.


69 Responses to “The Salvation Army: The Bell Ringers of Hate”

  1. Jennifer Carey December 2, 2013 at 7:05 am #

    Thank you Michael for sharing. Many of us have grown up with such an erroneous image of the Salvation Army. We donate gently used goods and throw spare change in their buckets. Now, I donate to individual groups that I know do not discriminate against those in need or work to further their plight. Oddly enough, that may become Catholic charities soon…

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 2, 2013 at 7:08 am #

      Jennifer, thank you for being such a steadfast ally to the LGBT community. You make the word ally an action rather than a descriptor, for which I love.

    • Philip Davisson December 2, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

      There are a lot of LGBTQ within The Salvation Army! Don’t think you have now have a corrected image of them with this post. Please dig deeper and look further for yourself. Here’s just a sample of the larger picture:

  2. Dr. Rex December 2, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    TY for this post. I didn’t know. Reblogging!!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 2, 2013 at 8:17 am #

      Dr. Rex, thank you for reflagging this article and helping people decide carefully where to give money. Thank you for your action and solidarity.

      • Dr. Rex December 2, 2013 at 8:47 am #

        Anytime, Michael. This is excellent information that needs to be spread! Thank YOU ….

    • Philip Davisson December 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      I’m sorry to hear that you are reblogging what is essentially untrue. There is no policy of discrimination, just the opposite in fact. The Salvation Army is a conservative Christian church, with world wide social service, education, health and disaster services. There are many who are part the organization working to bring change from within, to make it a more inclusive church. The Salvation Army is not perfect, and no doubt there are bad stories in localities; but there is a lot of good going on, it is not helpful to continue to spread misinformation.

  3. Dr. Rex December 2, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Now you know!!

  4. dykewriter December 2, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    today I am grateful that I am divorced

    and not having to have this fight with my ex anymore

    her mother was a member and I do not give money to evil

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 2, 2013 at 8:18 am #

      Nina, I’m sorry your former mother in-law was giving money to such a discriminatory organization.

      • dykewriter December 2, 2013 at 8:31 am #

        no my ex spouse would

        her mother died in 1995

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 2, 2013 at 8:37 am #

        Nina, thank you for the clarification.

      • dykewriter December 4, 2013 at 11:36 am #

        all I keep thinking is that book/movie

        Oranges are not the only fruit

        and then the called for gay genocide out of the australia branch of this


        they are one of the scarier sects of the Christian 2.0 version of the Abrahamic Trilogy

      • Xena December 4, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

        Oranges are not the only fruit

        Oh my! It’s been more than a decade since I saw that movie. Thanks for the reminder. (Going to Amazon to see if they have it.)

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 4, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

        I have read the book and loved it but I have not seen the movie.

      • dykewriter December 6, 2013 at 11:28 am #

        It’s a good one.

        have you seen

        Tipping the Velvet or Fingersmith?

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

        Nina, I’m afraid I have seen neither of those.

      • dykewriter December 8, 2013 at 10:51 am #

        Victorian lesbianism is probably not your thang


    • Dr. Rex December 2, 2013 at 8:48 am #

      Very well said, DW!!!

      • dykewriter December 4, 2013 at 11:34 am #

        Yeah.. I am only annoyed that I don’t get menopause payback LOL

  5. Xena December 2, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    I tried helping a friend once who had a list given to her of local charitable organizations to help with food, clothes, and emergency money. The Salvation Army was on that list. They turned her around cold saying that she had to contact every organization on that list first and only if they didn’t help, or partially helped, that they would help her.

    So much for charity.

    “For whatever you do for the least of these ….”

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 2, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      What an awful story, but one that needs to be heard. I hope your friend received the support she needed!

      • Xena December 2, 2013 at 10:27 am #

        Michael, I did what I could and being a spiritual person, sent positive energy her way. She got a job the next week. One interview! After that, she only required basic needs until getting her first paycheck. Then she made me a banana pudding and all was well. 🙂

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 2, 2013 at 10:31 am #

        Xena, thank you for sharing that narrative. It is important we hear from folk that are being denied services. I’m glad this story has a relatively happy ending.

      • Xena December 2, 2013 at 11:06 am #

        Michael, it was a new experience for me and my friend. I can’t imagine all of the people who had no one to help them and who were told that they had to contact every organization on that list first. The Salvation Army’s instructions were completely without consideration of additional hardship to those needing help.

        Thanks for your article.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 2, 2013 at 11:22 am #

        Xena, let us hope this will help the Salvation Army approach their work through a lens of social justice. Thank you for commenting here.

  6. JohnnyLaird (@JohnnyLaird) December 2, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    How would you like to see The Salvation Army change, Michael?

    The challenge with a piece like this is sifting the correct information from the conjecture and plain incorrect stuff.

    Some of your readers have already shared or re-blogged what you’ve written, yet great swathes of it are factually incorrect, which is a shame.

    It’s not correct to say “they refuse to help or serve the LGBT community”

    Neither is it correct that “Before offering any services to LGBT people in need, the Army subjects them to sermons and lectures”

    I do think The Salvation Army has issues to address re it’s relationship and engagement with the LGBT community, and much good work is going on in this area at present.

    However, the right questions have to be asked, and the appropriate and correct information needs to be shared, if a genuine forward movement is wanted.

    Good people with an interest in truth and social justice, are being given bad information.

    Much more objective research needed here, I think!

    I imagine you are genuine in your wish for Social Justice, which is great, but that is best achieved when you have a real handle on the issues you are challenging.

  7. Phil December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    What you write is untrue and uncharacteristic of The Salvation Army. I can imagine that with any organization you will find those who fail to adhere to the standards of the organization, but what you have written just goes to show how easily we can demonize others without any proof behind out statements. The Salvation Army does not refuse services or employment to LGBT members. I am an officer in the Army and I am gay. I work alongside gay employees and serve the needs of those in the LGBT community, as do my comrades. The Army is pro-life (as amny churches are) but does not refuse services to women who plan to terminate a pregnancy. What you have written reminds me of all the anti-gay bigotry that would demonize me, you have just switched it around. The title of your post throws a lot of negativity on the many men and women who ring the bells, some voluntarily and some for minimum wage. They are NOT bell ringers of hate. I applaud anyone who truly works for equality for all peoples, but his kind of erroneous and hateful rhetoric does nobody any good. I would suggest that people do a little more research on this matter before sharing untruths.

  8. Sharyn December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    Oh my goodness. There are soooooo many examples of exactly the opposite I could give. I am a salvo from birth and worked for TSA practicalky my entire working lufe. I have never whitnessed anything like you state re support of those in need. So to those this may have happened to, I am sorry, but this is notbthe “movement”. In house attitudes towards LGBT members is certainly something that needs addressing, but support of those in need has never in my experience been related to anything other than need.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      Sharyn, thank you for commenting here. I do hope there is space for the Salvation Army to be more inclusive. It appears you have a good experience with the organization, which is wonderful! Sadly, there are too many experiences like the friend of Xena’s, who commented on this thread.

  9. penguinlad December 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Wow. The Salvation Army is really trying to improve its image this year. Their aggressive campaign to promote the “we’re not really homophobic” image is in full swing, including commenting on blogs. Sadly, the kinder, gentler Salvation Army is a full-on lipstick-on-a-pig lie.

    Philip, Sharyn, and Phil may well be presenting their experiences honestly. Sadly, there are hundreds of stories of sermonizing, denial of service, and hostile behavior like this one that are all too easy to find. The practices of the SA are still so noxious that the Huffington Post went out of their way to include them on a Seven Homophbic Organizations post. Even worse, they refer people out to toxic, disreputable “ex-gay” ministries.

    As Salvation Army leaders point out, it’s a big organization. There may be people who are open and loving to everyone who comes for care. The vast majority of testimonials, public statements, and lobbying efforts, however, are rabidly anti-gay. No amount of spin in a year that saw such big strides for LGBT rights can change the fundamental truth of the organization.

    At the end of the day, no matter how many smiley face masks they wear, this is a conservative religious organization that opposes gay rights and believes that simply being gay is a mortal sin. Like the Boy Scouts and the many Catholic (and other church-based) charities, they may do some good work. That isn’t enough; anyone interested in true social justice, support for the LGBT community, and truly charitable charities should still stay miles away from those red kettles. Your money can do real good elsewhere without doing harm at the same time.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

      Thank you, Penguin for helping dismantle the myth of the Salvation Army being inclusive and including links to other sources.

  10. Central Oregon Coast NOW December 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

  11. Steve December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    Hey, folks! Sitting here brokenhearted over this conversation. I’m “one of them” — serving in TSA for 29 years. And I can’t imagine anything more wonderful!

    Words hurt. And I don’t ever want to hurt anyone for any reason. So how about a simple promise? I’m going to keep living, loving, and serving — anyone, any time, anywhere I can — “without discrimination,” as the TSA mission statement says. After all, the onus is on me to prove myself.

    To those who have sad tales to tell I just want to say — as heartfelt as can be expressed in a forum like this: I am SO sorry where we/I have not been as loving or gracious or kind as I should be.

    Thanks for challenging me, Michael! I take your concerns personally and seriously and want to be worthy in my living and loving…and you spur me on! Grateful for the prod…


    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

      Wow! Steve, you humble us all with your kindness and your heart! Regardless of how any of us feel about TSA, you certainly have demonstrated what it means to stand in solidarity with folks. Your comment here tells us all that you operate from a social justice perspective. I hope TSA appreciates you. Thank you for your comments here.

      • Steve December 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

        Michael, you helped me more than you’ll ever know! Trust is a terrible thing to break. We/I have broken your trust, and you cared enough to raise a challenging voice! Thank you for helping me be a better man…I’m trying really hard! Your kind reply (and taking time to do that) moves me…thank you!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

        Steve, while I so appreciate your kind words here, it is YOU that is making such a huge difference in the world! I must thank you, for you show us all the lovely and wonderful side of humanity and that we are all of us in this together. With kindest regards, Michael.

  12. Sam Johnson December 2, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    oh how i hate those bell ringing Santas, i don’t know what it is about them but every time i see one i just want to take the bell there ringing and just throw it as far as i can. And i mean its not just the people who ring the bells and dress up, yea i would be mad if i had to stand out on a cold December day, its just that they are acting as if ringing a bell in you face is going to make you take you your wallet and hand over money. I just don’t like them.

  13. Ben December 2, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    Hello Michael, the issue is that the Salvation Army believe that the New Testament is Gods spoken word to his people and by that I mean every word is believed to be inspired by God, including all the various passages that categorize Sodomy as sinful. It will never change whilst the Salvation Army have doctrines that state that the Bible has to be taken in this manner as divine inspiration of God. If it were re-written to state that the Bible is simply a road map and can be taken in various ways and so forth then it would be quite possible for GBLT people to be involved in the Salvation Army. As it stands, many Salvationists endorse the teaching of Sy Rogers and other counseling type of people that teach that Gay people can become straight and so forth.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 3, 2013 at 6:38 am #

      Ben, thank you for chiming in here. I wonder what it will take to eradicate homophobia? There is nothing to be gained from excluding human beings. Again, thank you for commenting here.

  14. Philip Davisson December 4, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    Michael, please allow me to apologize for the defensiveness of my comments, and for forgetting that as a straight white male in North America, I have never had to defend my person, fight to be recognized, or fear for my safety simply because of who I am. I am increasingly aware of my privileged status and try to use my voice for those not otherwise heard; and I recognize the sins and failures of my church and choose to remain to work for change and progress. I believe that historically The Salvation Army has been very progressive but that we have stalled and lost our way, and I am committed to make it more consistent and better in this regard, to help my church live up to its own standards of inclusion and its history of lifting people up and regarding all people as fully human and equal. We have been terribly slow off the mark in regards to recognizing our faults, in maintaining old categories of thought, but I wish you to know that there are indeed many of us who are lifting our voices to say that our present practice and policy is not yet where it should be. Thank you for allowing to participate just a bit in these conversations with you.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      Philip, what a lovely comment. Thank you so very much for continuing the dialogue here. Your words here inspire us all to be better human beings and to engage in meaningful dialogue that only helps to further the cause of social justice. Thank you for being an agent of change to make TSA and the world a more inclusive place that celebrates all of humanity.

    • JohnnyLaird (@JohnnyLaird) December 5, 2013 at 2:58 am #

      Good words, Philip!

  15. Christine Noble December 5, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    I educated my kid brother on this. He was very upset (at them, not me.) A lot of people have this illusion of SA being this sweet, lily-white organization, and do not realize it’s ugly, true nature.

  16. Christine Noble December 5, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    Reblogged this on Hand of Ananke and commented:
    It is time folks woke up to just how hurtful this organization is. I know it makes people feel better to give to charity, and those bell-ringers are right there, but there are much better causes to back.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 5, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

      Christine, I am about to publish a follow up article, as the Salvation Army contacted me. I will be very interested to know what you think, as I respect your opinion very much! Warm regards,Michael.

  17. Michael Hulshof-Schmidt February 28, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    Sadly, I just received this private comment of hate. This coward did not post his comment for all to see, but he sent it through the sidebar through the blog, so only I could see it. I will not share this person’s full name, nor their email address, but here is what “Sid” from Protect Marriage Maryland said:
    “Message: I am also from Protect Marriage Maryland. In my encounters with defending traditional marriage I have seen the most nasty, digusting words come from the gay side. Instead of debating you call people bigots and try attack them as people. Our poltics today is the most polarized and vicous , due to the homosexual agenda. An agenda that does not care about the effects on others, and agenda that has to force itself on everything and everybody. How many gays are really interested in Boy scouts or sports? Yet every day in the media we have to hear about this gay person or that gay person. Your politics has to be injected into every part of life. How much are we gonna have to hear about micheal sam? a damn lot. Of all the gay and political stories I have to hear when they are going to fix the economy that affect gay and straight alike. I don’t hate anybody I wish you guys could be cool about it.”

    • Dr. Rex February 28, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

      Hi, Michael … I’ve been blogging for less than one year. I have already run into haters, One cyber friend has taken her issue up with the authorities. I guess human nature is that way … and that is sad!!
      Because that is why our world is the way it is … Haters will always exist.
      So Sid …. back off!!!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt February 28, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

        Dr. Rex, thank you for making me smile. I really needed your solidarity today. I have also been sad that over 6 people stopped following my blog when I started the series celebrating black history. I can only hope it was a coincidence. Sending you lots of love, Michael.

      • Dr. Rex February 28, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

        You should see this blog: TheObamaCrat … he’s done a daily post on Black History for this month. Still has 2 more to go, he says.

        Anyway … I find his “name” interesting but the content of his Black History Month Moments has been impressive!
        Ta ….

        Love you back!!!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt February 28, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

        Dr. Rex, yes, I actually follow TheObamaCrat. I think he does a splendid job with his blog!

      • Xena February 28, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

        Michael, I’m sorry to hear that you lost 6 followers when you began the series on Black history.

        There was a Yahoo group, by membership only, that I belonged to from about 2000 until 2008. Its focus was on judicial reform and making the judicial system easier for lay people to understand. However, in 2008 its focus changed to the presidential primaries and in that focus, people (Republicans) began posting the email campaigns against Barack Obama.

        Politics is not my informed topic, but I did see something that I posted to that group, which was that we were looking at a time when a woman and a minority man were both campaigning for nomination to run as President. There was a time in America when neither were allowed to vote, much less think they could run for the highest office in the land.

        We should have celebrated that accomplishment.

        I was viciously attacked for saying that. Even the administrator of the group refused to post my responses, while allowing the attacks. He went as far as to misrepresent what I posted. I unsubscribed to that group and have not looked back. About a year thereafter, I received an email from them saying that they needed me and wanted me to participate again. HA!!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt February 28, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

        Xena, thank you for sharing that story. It is yet more evidence of the work we all have to do around social justice and racial equity.

      • Xena February 28, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

        Michael, you’re doing great work, and please don’t let those 6 un-followers discourage you.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt February 28, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

        Xena, I remain encouraged by the good energy others are putting into the universe and that I get to be a part of a community dedicated to social justice. Yours in solidarity, Michael

      • Dr. Rex February 28, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

        It’s very interesting. I noted that several people stopped following my blog when I started posting about Sochi, about Uganda and some additional LGBT issues. Then again ….. that’s not my main topic.
        With that said … I noticed that you lose some … and then more start following.

        I am happy with what I post about. You must be terribly happy about your posts … quality, content and humanity. That’s what’s important!!
        From the heart …. hugs!! 🙂

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt February 28, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

        Dr. Rex, you constantly humble me and make me feel so honored to be in such splendid company.

      • Dr. Rex February 28, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

        We are stuck together like “feathers on a bird” … I know it’s different but you get my drift!! LOL ….


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