Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Salvation Army: 5 Ethical Questions to Ask Before You Feed the Red Kettle

Ring-a-ling-a-ling - the bell beckons passers by to drop their change into the red kettle of the Salvation Army (SA).Yet even charity isn't as simple as it seems. What ethical problems surface when the SA is scrutinized? Shouldn't we be concerned about the destination of our good deeds? When it comes to large organizations, it isn't enough to blindly give. As Catholics (or any Christians, for that matter), we have a moral obligation to hold charities accountable. Since there are many options, we are capable of making a difference by giving to good, morally sound organizations. Last year, I wrote an in-depth piece outlining and providing sources to some very disturbing facts about the Salvation Army. Here, I have condensed the information in an easily read list of five:

What's the Salvation Army's Stance on Abortion?

On the surface the beginning of the SA Positional Statement is morally sound. There is acknowledgment that all people are created in the image of God and therefore have unique and intrinsic value.  They further state that human life is sacred and everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. The Salvation Army also accepts that life beings at the moment of fertilization. So far so good.

Later, in same section, there are shocking contradictions. The Salvation Army notes that termination can occur  when 'carrying the pregnancy further seriously threatens the life of the mother' or diagnostic procedures identify a fetal abnormality causing only a 'very brief post natal period'. Further, rape and incest also represent a 'special case for the consideration of termination'. These exceptions portray a troubling contradiction to the professed 'sanctity, unique dignity and respect' due to the 'image of God' found in our unborn brethren.

Salvation Army and Planned Parenthood - What's the Connection?

In order to determine collusion between the Salvation Army and Planned Parenthood, we must look at material cooperation as well as monetary support. While SA may not directly contribute to PP, there is evidence that they do partner with one another. Research by Life Decisions International has found this to be the case and has landed the Salvation Army on their Dishonorable Mention list. Further, American Life League has also found a troubling connection between the two. Simply considering 'all the good they do' is not enough to excuse or waylay this compromise of pro-life principles.

How About Contraception?

As we further peruse the SA website we can also find stated support of contraception in their international positional statement:
“A serious commitment to the protection and care of the unborn calls us to a commitment to the prevention of unwanted pregnancy through means such as access to reliable birth control…”
Yikes, yet another position not in sync with Holy Mother Church! Don't they know that oral and many other contraceptives (such as the IUD) are also abortifacients

What Does the Salvation Army Teach About the Sacraments?

Here we find even more, compelling incompatibility. The SA is a heretical organization/church. Founder, William Booth, completely rejected the Sacraments. Although for some years he continued to follow the Protestant tradition of two Sacraments – Baptism and the “Lord’s Supper”, he held they were purely symbolic - until finally he dispensed with them altogether. In practice, many adult recruits had never been baptized – nor was it required. In the end Booth had come to the conclusion that, not only were the Sacraments not vital – they were a mistake. Therefore, in his “Foundation Deed” he abolished the Sacraments completely. This is definitely not a good match for Catholic charity.

Aren't There Better, Moral Alternatives?

And now for an answer to our moral Advent/Christmas alms-giving conundrum. Might I suggest a great, ethical alternative to the Salvation Army? Cross Catholic Outreach feeds the poorest of the poor in Honduras – 94.8% of your donation goes directly to these efforts. Their support of the missionary efforts of the Catholic Church in the developing world is endorsed by more than 70 U.S. Bishops. Cross Catholic Outreach is also an affiliate of Catholic Charities. Please prayerfully consider them when you make your Advent alms-giving decisions.

In closing, we should ask ourselves, "Do the good works performed by the Salvation Army outweigh their acceptance of abortion exceptions and support of contraception"? Will we look the other way instead of considering their cooperation with Planned Parenthood, support of abortifacient birth control, or their heretical beliefs? In a word, ‘no’. After all, there are many options for charitable service to the needy. We can easily find more worthy and life-affirming recipients for our alms. Rather than giving to a sect (SA) that has little moral common ground with Holy Mother Church, our focus should go to more suitable recipients.

EVERY child is a GIFT of GOD!
*Supporting sources can be found in my post from last year Salvation Army - Bells for Abortion.