I made the mistake of going Christmas shopping yesterday in midtown Manhattan. And while I attempted to elbow my way through the crowds of crazy people wearing reindeer horns and talking really loudly in Jersey accents, I couldn’t help but notice the over-abundance of Salvation Army Santas asking us to give. In the city, people are jaded and just ringing a bell won’t do. Many of the Santas have resorted to playing the Glee Christmas album or “rapping” music to entice donors. Not only does the noise and the taking up space on already over-stuffed sidewalks bother me, but the I couldn’t ignore the homophobia and bigotry of it all.
The Salvation Army is infamous for its discrimination against sexual minorities who work for them. In 2001, they denied domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples of employees despite the long-term commitment of these employees and the support within the staff for the move. This might not be too surprising for anyone who pays attention to the fact that the Salvation Army will only allow homeless men and women to stay in their shelters if they will accept Jesus as their savior, because living on the streets in the dead of winter doesn’t demonstrate need for charity if you don’t embrace religious doctirne. This disgusting abuse of religion is not what the spirit of the season is and I am quite certain it makes Jesus turn over in his apparently vacant tomb. Please consider this when you go shopping this season. I won’t tell anyone if you decide to rough the Santas or putting fake Monopoly money in their well. Or if you feel you must give to the needy this season, please find an inclusive charity in your area.