Silence the bells and hold back the hipsters

It’s that time of year again. Every time you go shopping you can hear that little bell in the background, and when you walk out of the store (if you paid cash) you don’t even need to pocket your change. Just drop it in the bucket and smile knowing you’re “doing the most good.”

If, of course, good means donating to a multi-billion dollar evangelical organization, touted as a charity but with its finances shielded by church status, that says the only route for homosexuals is abstinence — oh, and has done things like threatening to close its New York soup kitchens to avoid paying domestic partner benefits.

While they aren’t as vocal about their positions as, say, Focus on the Family, I’m surprised it never occurred to me that an evangelical Christian denomination that happens to engage in massive amounts of charity, might take the opportunity to proselytize and discriminate. That they also aren’t subject to nearly as much financial oversight as dedicated charities makes it even harder for me to take them at their word. I’m not dropping a penny in a red kettle again, and I hope you don’t, either.

I might, though, donate my three dollar bill. It’s hard to get queerer than this:

Don't tell me you've never heard the idiom "queer as a three dollar bill."

I’ll admit, I’m also going to miss shopping the Salvation Army just up the street from my house for records and old suit jackets. Salvation Army is such a hipster fashion haven it’s almost mainstream. But maybe I’ll give my business to Goodwill, which has several locations around Omaha, is nonreligious, and does nice things like employing lots of trans people in their Castro store.

As for the homeless and the hungry? There are several local homeless shelters and soup kitchens. I’m not sure which of them require you to take spiritual nourishment with your actual nutrition, but I intend to find out, and I’ll post any findings or your info on this blog. I encourage religious organizations that engage in aid to continue to do so, as long as they don’t use the opportunity to evangelize to and discriminate against the vulnerable. And I prefer any standalone charity, because they’re more financially accountable than a church like the Salvation Army, which doesn’t have to file a certain important form.

More broadly, here’s a list of secular charities, a list that needs to be a lot longer. Consider donating to one of these groups if you’d really like to spread some cheer, during the holidays and year-round.

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  • Comments (2)
    • Rebekah Polski
    • December 9th, 2010

    I haven’t donated to the Salvation Army in years, for this very reason. It makes me sad that even charities have a huge bias against the LGBT community.

    • Jen
    • December 30th, 2010

    I totally agree with Rebekah and don’t donate to organizations (which I do) unless they get a full background check. It almost makes me giggle inside (in a very weird way) when I get to walk right past those bell shakers.

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