Stephanie Miller: “I apologize” re: Salvation Army being anti-gay

Stephanie Miller gets to keep her toaster after all.

We had reported yesterday that popular progressive talk radio host Stephanie Miller had a Salvation Army representative on her show Monday to talk about the perception that the organization is anti-gay.

The Salvation Army representative, George Hood, proceeded to lie to Stephanie about the Salvation Army’s atrocious four-decade record of anti-gay activism, and Miller appeared to agree with him that concerns about the Salvation Army being anti-gay were simply Internet lies.

They’re not.

toaster

A little singed for the experience, Stephanie Miller officially gets to keep her toaster.
(Toaster via Shutterstock)

The Salvation Army sees itself as a far-right evangelical church, going so far as to advocate for anti-gay legislation and policies in the United States and around the world.

The Salvation Army has been using a portion of your donations to their little kettles to advocate against the civil rights of gays and lesbians for decades, and they’re still doing it today.

The Salvation Army isn’t simply a charity that “happens” to be evangelical. The Salvation Army is a religious right charity that actively involves itself in promoting an anti-gay agenda. They are dedicated to opposing marriage equality. They are dedicated to advocating that all gays should be celibate. And they have repeatedly said that if you’re not gay and not celibate, then you’re not welcome to work in the upper levels of the Salvation Army.

And at that point, they’re not simply a charity that happens to be evangelical. They’re anti-gay religious right political activists who happen to do charity work. And I’m happy to help out charity when I can, but there are a lot of charities to give to, and I don’t need to give my money to someone who takes a portion of those donations in their little red kettles and sends them to the mother ship to advocate for anti-gay politics.

And yes, the money you put in that red kettle is being used to finance the Salvation Army’s campaign against gay and lesbian civil rights.  From Snopes:

The Salvation Army’s kettle campaign raises up to 70 percent of the Salvation Army’s total annual income.

By some reports, it’s as much as 88%.

And at least ten percent of those donations get sent to the higher levels of the Salvation Army to eventually be used as administrative costs for, among other things, anti-gay advocacy.  Who pays the guy to write the policy statement against local gay marriage legislation?  You do.  Don’t believe me about it, here’s the New York Times from last year:

George Hood, a Salvation Army spokesman, said all revenue from Salvation Army thrift stores is used locally. But he said a small percentage of money dropped into the red kettles finds its way to Washington — where it helps to pay the salaries of politically active staff members like Mr. Hood. Every local unit pays 10 percent of its revenue to a state or regional division — there are 40 divisions in the United States — and every division pays 10 percent of its revenue to one of four national territories, each of which foots a quarter of the national budget.

In other words, of a dollar dropped into a red kettle in New York City, a quarter of a penny ends up at national headquarters, where conversations with the government — not lobbying, Mr. Hood says — may take place.

Not lobbying?  Please.  What do you call conspiring with Karl Rove to make regulations more amenable to discriminating against gays in employment?  What do you call the Salvation Army weighing in, in country after country, against gay marriage, and in favor of anti-gay legislation, for decades now?  Not lobbying?  Please. Maybe it’s technically not “lobbying,” in the legal definition.  But is the Salvation Army using your money to advocate for evangelical causes, including bashing gays, at the federal level worldwide?  Yes.

Yet another lie through misdirection from the Salvation Army.

And note that, if it isn’t our old pal Salvation Army spokesman, George Hood, this time trying to downplay how much of your donations go to anti-gay advocacy.  Only a quarter of a percent of every penny donated through those Red Kettles goes to the evil Salvation Army religious right activists in Washington, DC.  That doesn’t sound like much, does it?

Let’s do the math, George, shall we?

I initially looked at the Salvation Army’s annual income, since that’s what Snopes said – 70% of their annual income comes from the Red Kettles.  Well, their annual income is $2.8 billion a year.  If you look at that figure, a huge amount of the Red Kettle money is going to the Salvation Army’s federal advocacy work against you and me, to the tune of $7m a year.

But if you look at it another way, it’s less, but not insignificant:

  1. Salvation Army’s Hood claims that “only” a quarter of each penny donated through those red kettles goes to the Salvation Army’s ant-gay advocacy and other government advocacy.
  2. We already know that up to 88% of the Salvation Army’s total annual income is raised from the Red Kettle campaign.  But let’s be conservative and use Snopes’ figure of 70% of the Salvation Army’s annual budget coming from the Red Kettles.
  3. The Salvation Army takes in $190.7 million each year in fundraising dollars.
  4. So 70% of that income comes from the Red Kettles – that would mean the Salvation Army makes $133m a year from its Red Kettles, and in fact I found a Salvation Army press release from 2011 in which they claim to have made $147.6m least year from their Red Kettle drive.
  5. “Only” 0.25 cents of every dollar donated (or 0.25%) to the Red Kettle goes to the anti-gay bigots running the Salvation Army in Washington, DC.  How much is 0.25% of $147.6m?  $369,000.
  6. So, our donations to the Salvation Army’s Red Kettles are earning the Salvation Army $369,000 every year to spend in Washington, DC to advocate against our civil rights.  

It ain’t nothing.

Of course, the Salvation Army reports that it actually gets $1.6 billion a year in direct support from the public, presumably from other donations beyond the Red Kettle.  Looking at that figure, and applying the same 0.25 cents of every suddenly you find that $4 million a year from the public goes to the Salvation Army’s evangelical advocacy at the federal level.

And that really ain’t nothing.

I also don’t give my money to liars.

STEPHANIE MILLER: We’ve gotten a lot of letters about the Salvation Army being anti-gay, can you address that?

SALVATION ARMY’S GEORGE HOOD: Well it’s a great misunderstanding that’s spread across the country, and we’re doing everything we can to re-educate and help people understand that the very mission of the Salvation Army calls for meeting the needs of humans without discrimination…. So discrimination is not something that we would gladly carry the banner or pride over, we want to dispel the notion that we do discriminate when the fact is we’re working very hard not discriminating and it is a part of our mission…. Many of those things start fueling through blog sites and postings on the Internet and it’s really really tough to shut them down when they get out there.

That is a lie.  Straight from the mouth of the Salvation Army’s number one spokesman who has held the job for years.  The Salvation Army isn’t trying to make amends for years of anti-gay prejudice.  They’re out there actively lying about their record, and smearing those of who hold them accountable for their bigotry by accusing us of spreading Internet lies on “blog sites and postings on the Internet.”

Nothing says “bad apple” like a church that thinks it’s best defense is a lie.

I won’t go through the entire litany of the Salvation Army’s anti-gay pedigree, but here are a few headline from just this year alone.2012

  • Salvation Army official says gays deserve to die.
  • Salvation Army headquarters calls homosexuality “an uncontrollable urge” that need to be suppressed.
  • Salvation Army says they’ll discriminate in hiring against any gays who aren’t celibate.
  • Salvation Army UK and Australi take public position against marriage equality in effort to block local pro-gay marriage legislative efforts.
  • Salvation Army reportedly fires employee for being bisexual.

Stephanie Miller, to her great credit, along with Bill Press (with whom she was hosting a charity fundraiser for the Salvation Army), has called off her charity fundraiser, and will be giving the donations raised to the Trevor Project. Stephanie also gave a sincere mea culpa this morning on her show, along with Bill. Which was exactly the right thing to do.

Here’s Stephanie’s statement, and there’s a longer discussion of this issue on her show today, in the video below. Thanks, Stephanie – we always knew you were a good progressive, and today you’re reconfirmed it.

Monday on my Current TV program Talking Liberally, broadcast simultaneously on my national radio program, The Stephanie Miller Show, I announced that my friend and colleague Bill Press and I were launching a three-week competition to raise money for the Salvation Army to help Americans in need.

This was in conjunction with an advertising buy by the Salvation Army on Current TV. We all thought that we were doing something positive in the spirit of the holiday season.

Where I screwed up was in not doing more research about the Salvation Army’s long and checkered history involving LGBTQ people and our issues. I sincerely apologize for that.

When I returned from the Thanksgiving holiday, I learned a lot more — much of of it from friends like John Aravosis at America Blog and Michelangelo Signorile at Sirius OutQ — and I decided that, effective immediately, Talking Liberally and The Stephanie Miller Show would no longer be a part of the Salvation Army’s Online Red Kettle Campaign.

Please understand that I do believe the Salvation Army does much good work in the world and I also believe in redemption. I sincerely hope they will change their mission statement and policies regarding the LGBTQ community and I am very willing to continue that dialogue with them.

Through yesterday, your generosity has raised $1,150 for the Salvation Army in the Stephanie Miller Red Kettle.

I am now going to personally match that amount with a donation to the Trevor Project, whose work and mission I can endorse without any reservation. The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.

As always, I am grateful to my viewers and listeners for holding me to the high standards that I always try to set for myself.

Love,

Stephanie

Don’t forget to download and print off your vouchers, below, to put in those Red Kettles – this is a donation of good advice that the Red Cross really needs.salavation army vouchers anti-gay


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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