the secular atheist sees no reason or evidence for belief in a god or gods
The Secular Atheist

Please think before you donate to the Salvation Army

13 December 2016

It's Christmas and Salvation Army adverts are again on TV appealing for donations to support the work that they do. Their message is simple and effective - there are people in need and it takes money to help them.

The message is also kind and compassionate, and there is no question that the Salvation Army does some wonderful work helping people in real difficulty. There are many people who have good reason to be grateful to the Salvation Army, and I suspect that this Christmas there will be many more.

However, the adverts hide a sinister side to the organisation, something with which many supporters do not agree, but through their support, they are enabling the organisation to uphold as around 15% of money received is used to maintain the organisation in accordance with the beliefs they proclaim.

The Salvation Army is first and foremost a religious organisation, a church to be exact. According to the group's mission statement, it "is an evangelical" organisation to "preach the gospel of Jesus Christ". Its theology is taken from the bible, and it requires its members and employees to adhere to the church's teachings to hold office and progress within the church. It is an army of soldiers for Jesus.

The organisations Christian beliefs were demonstrated in 2014, when a letter written by Commissioner Paul Seiler was leaked. In the letter, Commissioner Seller stated that "for anyone in a Salvation Army ministry position, the theological belief regarding sexuality is that God has ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman and sexual activity is restricted to one's spouse". On this basis, members are not allowed to attend same sex marriages in their uniform.

The Salvation Army has a history of discrimination against the LGBQT community. They have actively resisted the extension of rights like marriage, to include LGBQT people, and they steadfastly deny full participation in their organisation to members and staff from the LGBQT community.

Credit where credit is due. Since the leaking of the 2014 letter, the Salvation Army has tried to be more LGBQT friendly by, for example, removing discriminatory statements on their website. However, their theology has not changed, and their no sign that there are any plans to change it. The book's cover has been replaced. The contents remain the same.

The Salvation is not the only option. There are numerous charities helping the needy from the homeless to the unemployed. Most of these organisations are totally secular with no other agenda but to help the needy. Those among them that do advocacy work, do so in accordance in order to assist those in need that they support, and not their religious beliefs,

Part of the 15% that the Salvation Army spent on operational activities, was spent on trying to prevent the legalisation of marriage equality. It is highly likely, that donations will be used in the future to advocate for laws to confirm with religious beliefs. This is entirely consistent with the Salvation Army as a church but not with the spirit in which most donations are given.

So, if you want both to contribute to helping the needy and advocating for the religious beliefs of the Salvation Army, then they are the perfect organisation for you to donate to. On the other hand, if you do not wish to contribute to the promotion of the religious beliefs of a church, then stop and look elsewhere. With the internet, it couldn't be easier to find a worthy cause that focuses solely on the needy without discrimination or the influence of religious beliefs.

Whatever you decide, please give generously. There are many people around the word who need help and without your donation, nothing can be done. As the chair of a small charity, I know first hand that every donation makes a difference.

Ken Surridge

About me

I describe myself as a secular atheist hence the name of the site. As an atheist, I am active in my opposition to religious privilege and intolerance especially when it comes to religion trying to enforce its values on all society such as the denial of equal rights for the LGBQT community and placing limits on women's reproductive rights.

I sometimes describe myself as a secular humanist because humanism matches my beliefs most closely. As a humanist, I am totally committed to human rights as defined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. I am proud to have been a member of the British Humanist Society for many years now.

Lastly, I am a parent, a husband, a teacher, a mentor, a friend, and a Bridge enthusiast (although not very good at it). I enjoy sharing my thoughts and ideas, and this site is one of my outlets to this end.

Thank you for visiting, and thank you for reading.


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