"The first hand that reaches to pull you from the rubble of our next earthquake," Shea O'Neill wrote on the SFAppeal Web site last week, "will be the Anti-Gay Hand of the Salvation Army."
The Salvation Army, the country's biggest charity, is taking it full on the chin from a social media network mobilized against the organization's position on homosexuality and other social sins.
Twitter, Facebook and gay Web sites are lit up with protest and calls for donor boycotts. The Army's official same-sex statement suggests it's unlikely those cheery volunteers ringing bells over red kettles will be donning gay apparel anytime soon.
While homosexuals are not "blameworthy," the statement says, "Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex." The Army is an unabashedly evangelical, religious entity, after all, and has also resisted domestic partner benefits for its employees.
Last month, there was another stink about the Army's Houston division demanding to see Social Security cards of needy parents before providing toys for their kids. Angry protesters claimed this was discrimination against cardless illegal immigrants.
Before we take the predictable San Francisco, to-the-barricades view on all this, let's consider the Catholic concept of "proportionalism." This means (roughly, my interpretation) that bad conduct can be acceptable if a much greater good is being accomplished.
The Salvation Army served 33 million people in the United States last year. It raises about $2 billion a year and spends an impressive 89 percent of that on services - food, shelter, foster care and HIV programs.
It is a consistent and reliable disaster relief group.
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