A familiar sight during the holiday season is the iconic red kettle used by The Salvation Army for donations. Volunteers stand next to the kettle and ring a bell as passersby walk into grocery stores or retail stores. Who would protest when a British singer announced her agreement to partner with the international charity? The perpetually outraged Twitter mob, of course.
Singer Ellie Goulding set off a firestorm on social media among LGBTQ activists when she posted the announcement of her collaboration with the Christian charity. She agreed to sing as the halftime act for the Dallas Cowboys – Buffalo Bills Thanksgiving Day game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. She posted pictures of herself volunteering to feed the homeless with the Salvation Army in New York City on Instagram. It was her first time doing so in New York, though she noted she regularly works with the needy in London, her home. The Cowboys game is the official start of the Red Kettle Campaign each year. The campaign is part of Christmas fundraising efforts for social service programs, including providing shelter, food and after-school programs.
The LGBTQ mob came for her. What is the problem, you might ask? Goulding’s fans bashed her by claiming The Salvation Army has an anti-LGBTQ agenda, which is an old trope coming from the left. Like many people who live for social media approval, Goulding didn’t take the criticism well. She caved, initially, and made a demand that The Salvation Army ‘very quickly make a solid, committed pledge or donation to LGBTQ community’ in order for her to carry through with her partnership with the charity. Sounds like extortion, doesn’t it?
“Upon researching this, I have reached out to The Salvation Army and said that I would have no choice but to pull out unless they very quickly make a solid, committed pledge or donation to the LGBTQ community,” Goulding replied. “I am a committed philanthropist as you probably know, and my heart has always been in helping the homeless, but supporting an anti-LGBTQ charity is clearly not something I would ever intentionally do. Thank you for drawing my attention to this.”
For a little background, The Salvation Army began in the east end of London in 1865. It is a Protestant Christian church and an international charitable organization with worldwide membership. Its founder, William Booth, was a minister who decided to withdraw from a traditional church and preach the gospel on the street. From that street ministry, The Salvation Army began. The focus has always been to minister to the needy. The Red Kettle Campaign began in 1891 in San Francisco.
The website for The Salvation Army USA includes a section for their work with the LGBTQ community. Over the years the charity has incorporated outreach to the LGBTQ community while remaining a Christian organization. Some of the criticism no doubt comes as homeless shelters struggle to handle transgender clients. They insist they do not discriminate.
On the Salvation Army’s website, the organization stresses that the “Salvation Army USA serves more than 23 million Americans every year. In every ZIP code of America, services are offered without discrimination.”
It provides shelter, job training, and help with substance abuse and food insecurity. And when “a transgender person seeks help from us,” the Salvation Army says, “we serve them in the same manner as any other person seeking assistance.”
The website addresses the needs of homeless Americans. The charity has programs for helping the mentally ill and the drug-addicted, as well as homeless teens. Some statistics from the website: Four out of ten homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. Almost one-third of homeless transgender people have been rejected from an emergency shelter. LGBTQ Americans are more likely to be poor.
Because LGBTQ Americans living in poverty often experience unacceptable homophobia and transphobia, many become homeless.
A majority of homeless LGBTQ people end up on the streets before they turn 18, and one in four is homeless before turning 16.
The Salvation Army did something that few do when the angry social media mob comes for them – they fought back. More importantly, they educated Ellie Goulding. Now that she understands what the charity does for those for which she was showing concern, she’s changing her tune. As of now, she’s still expected to be the half-time performer during the annual Thanksgiving Day football game in Dallas.
“We’d like to thank Ellie Goulding and her fans for shedding light on misconceptions and encouraging others to learn the truth about The Salvation Army’s mission to serve all, without discrimination,” Commissioner David Hudson, National Commander of the Salvation Army said. “We applaud her for taking the time to learn about the services we provide to the LGBTQ community. Regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, we’re committed to serving anyone in need. Every day, we provide services such as shelter for the transgender community and resources for homeless youth — 40 percent of whom identify as gay or transgender. Ellie’s performance in the 23rd annual Salvation Army Red Kettle Kickoff during the Dallas Cowboys game Thanksgiving Day on CBS will kick off a season of giving that helps support these and many other programs and services throughout the country.”
We’re so excited to announce that @EllieGoulding will be kicking off the 2019 Red Kettle Campaign during the @DallasCowboys Thanksgiving Day game vs. the Buffalo Bills on CBS! Tune in and join us in the #FightForGood this season. pic.twitter.com/ehz8UgJKhl
— Salvation Army USA (@SalvationArmyUS) November 7, 2019
The Salvation Army also partners with companies like Walmart to collect toys for children at Christmas.
Today is the day! Come out to your local @Walmart store and drop off a new toy to our onsite team. We're collecting for families in need of a little Christmas help. #FightForGood pic.twitter.com/NfORKaO6SE
— Salvation Army USA (@SalvationArmyUS) November 9, 2019
I’ll end with this little good news – each year gold coins are found in red kettles across the country from anonymous donors. This year is starting off with the somewhat recent tradition continuing. A gold coin was found in a red kettle on Wednesday in the Chicago area.
On Nov. 8, an anonymous donor dropped a 1-ounce “Gold Eagle” coin, worth between $1,200 and $1,500, into a red kettle at a Hobby Lobby in Crystal Lake, the Salvation Army said in a statement Wednesday.
“It was very exciting to start the kettle season by finding a gold coin in the very first kettle we processed,” Major Barbara Owen, corps officer at The Salvation Army Crystal Lake Corps Community Center, said.
The lesson here is for charitable Christian organizations to stop being cowed by the social media mobs. Instead of backing down and not defending its good works, in line with its mission, The Salvation Army won this battle.