The Course of Reason

The Christmas Army

January 2, 2013

As the War on Christmas rages on, you've likely begun to hear an annoying ringing of bells in public. The "soldiers" this season are outside of grocery stores and standing on street corners as a part of the Salvation Army's winter campaign. If that persistent tinkling has given you thoughts about donating, though, you should give it a second thought. The Salvation Army is hardly as harmless as it appears, and shouldn't be welcome in secular society.

The Salvation Army began as a militarized religious cult, but gradually gained more credibility through charitable work and disaster relief efforts. Due to this trend, many people think the Salvation Army is a nonprofit group, but that's simply not true. The Salvation Army is actually a Christian denomination that split off from Methodism in 1865. As such, it has a list of eleven doctrines, the last of which claims the wicked will endure endless torment in the afterlife. The wicked, by the way, includes practicing homosexuals, who subsequently aren't allowed to hold certain job positions offered by the organization. It's ... reassuring ... to know that they still accept homosexuals who aren't "practicing". In 2001, the Salvation Army went as far as to lobby for a change in grant and tax regulations that would protect their "right" to discriminate against homosexuals. Thankfully, the Bush administration denied their request.

When a portion of the organization was about to offer domestic-partnership benefits to gay employees, evangelical supporters were outraged, and the organization quickly retracted the decision. Then, in 2004, the Salvation Army threatened to close its operations in New York unless they were granted exclusive permission to discriminate against homosexuals. Mayor Bloomberg refused to make an exception for the organization, but chose to not enforce the ordinance that would ban said discrimination - which basically granting the exception, just with some flowers and perfume thrown on top to distract the public. Furthermore, although the organization has to keep fighting to maintain it's "right" to discriminate against homosexuals, in other areas it doesn't even need to try. As a church, the Salvation Army has the right to discriminate based on religion, something nonprofits can't do.

So, this season, if you hear that annoying ringing, don't dig in your pockets for spare change. Instead, donate to a secular, less political organization. However you choose to spend your money this month, don't forget to spend time with those you care about, and have a Merry Christmas.

This post originally appeared on Illini SSA's blog


About the Author: Greg Toole

Greg Toole's photo

Greg Toole is an undergraduate studying at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a scribe for the Illini Secular Student Alliance, he has had the opportunity to marry his love for writing with an enthusiasm for secular activism.


#1 expreacher (Guest) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 at 5:42pm

As an ex-officer of the SA I tweeted :

"Has strong personal resonance
Most people do not know the inflexible religious beliefs & proselytization required"

and the URL on




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