Your Charity Dollars at Work

bryanbr of Never Thought to Question Why posted an article yesterday called “Do Not Give to the Salvation Army” (the URL included “shun the bell ringers”, which I thought was clever and/or funny)

bryanbr’s thesis is straightforward. As a nearly-militant Christian organization (in case the name SALVATION ARMY didn’t tip you off), the SA believes strongly against homosexuality, abortion, and euthanasia.

The first is the hardest to come to terms with. It’s backwards at best to think homosexuality is abhorrent and gays should be stoned. Let’s leave that there.

The second, which is interestingly titled “Women’s Rights” in the original article, is itself a bit iffy. I’m not a religious dude (though fairly agnostic), and while I haven’t taken a stance on abortion completely, I think we can all agree it’s an incredibly touchy issue. Namely, the question is, at what point does conception begin? This is a question I’ve yet to see answered well, and when you have many first-world jurisdictions across the planet that legalise the abortion of a fetus up to nine months of age, well, it becomes iffy. When you split hairs that fine, one has to wonder when “women’s rights” end and murder begins and we start playing with semantics more than anything (remember Macduff, “from his mother’s womb / Untimely ripp’d”) . Conceptualize, if you will, a pregnant woman who is due in exactly one day. She decides she doesn’t want the child. Is it murder? Certainly not. Now, when a pregnant woman is abused or attacked in such a way so as to cause the death of a fetus, the crime is treated more severely. Sure, there are very good reasons for that and such a crime is abhorrent, but the difference to our reaction to such a crime and our reaction to a nine-month pregnancy culminating in an abortion is cause for thought, I think.

Obviously there are circumstances where abortion is definitely warranted and definitely acceptable (to myself, of course). In cases of rape or where the mother will not be able to care for the child (or doesn’t want to, I guess), early into the pregnancy, abortion simply makes sense. But that’s just me, and I can easily understand opposition to abortion (though the complete and blanket opposition that the SA and various religious groups have strikes me as nuts).

The third point that bryanbr makes is the one I take the most exception to and that is the topic of euthanasia. I think the SA’s opposition to assisted-suicide is very fair, if only because of the three oppositions bryanbr has to the SA, this one seems the most justified. Euthanasia, while legal in some jurisdictions, is illegal in many, many others. Euthanasia is typically an option when one is going through pain and their quality of life has diminished significantly as a result of a (most often) incurable illness or ailment. The reasoning can be the ailment itself or a side-effect such as depression. Personally, I could never take the life of another individual, even if they asked me to (though, I guess in a life or death situation, I could, but that’s not germane). Asking doctors then to commit murder (and that’s what ending another human life is, murder), and in some cases, expecting them to when pressed, seems like a pretty extreme step. Personally, I’m very divided on the topic of euthanasia — above all, I believe that people who are in a rational state of mind and not mentally ill have a right to their own body and if they choose to end their own lives, that should be their decision. I think the SA’s right to oppose euthanasia is warranted.

I think that bryanbr’s boycott of the Salvation Army is maybe a step too far. The SA does do some good work for the homeless and single mothers and so on. They are, of course, a Christian organization and to expect them to endorse things that are antithetical with the Bible seems a little silly, though. Any society has to pick its battles and decide what it supports; I mean, if you believe all drugs should be legal or seatbelts are bullshit or the drinking age should be lowered or whatever, would you donate to a rehabilitation charity or MADD or whatever? Probably not.

But bryanbr’s argument is great in that it’s a lesson: don’t just give people money in order to feel like a good person. Know what the charity does before you decide to support them.

 

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10 Comments on “Your Charity Dollars at Work”

  1. bryanbr says:

    A fair and accurate analysis, thank you very much.

    • James says:

      You’re welcome — your piece was thought-provoking and it’s generated tons of discussion. Even if a lot of the people posting in response are dorks and being pretty flippant, it’s an important conversation to have.

      • bryanbr says:

        I tend to ignore the trolls. I even deleted a couple of comments that were just nothing but insults but I got the information out there and that’s what matters. I put a link to ya on my blog.

    • James says:

      Thanks. I found your post through reddit, so that might explain the high volume of trolls (though I thought they were all atheists so maybe not?).

  2. ryeburg says:

    I agree 100%. If I am going to give away money, I make damn sure it is to an organization I know will get it to who needs it.

    On a side note, I like how our blogs contain part of our names.

    • James says:

      Exactly! I drop a coin or two in as I pass when I can, it’s just the convenience factor for me. I donate to a couple of charities once a year and only to reputable ones.

      RYEBURG is pretty sweet. I need to come up with slogans; “WELCOME TO THE PLETTEAU” or something like that. I was coming up with them but then I hit a plateau. I do like that the name suggests a sort of mediocrity and/or consistency though.

  3. teh dude says:

    “Conceptualize, if you will, a pregnant woman who is due in exactly one day. She decides she doesn’t want the child. Is it murder? Certainly not. Now, when a pregnant woman is abused or attacked in such a way so as to cause the death of a fetus, the crime is treated more severely. Sure, there are very good reasons for that and such a crime is abhorrent, but the difference to our reaction to such a crime and our reaction to a nine-month pregnancy culminating in an abortion is cause for thought, I think.”

    The woman lost her unborn child because of the actions of someone else. It wasn’t her choice, and thus there are two victims: the fetus and the mother. If the mother makes the choice to abort the child, then there is only one victim. Or no victims depending on who you talk to. I don’t think it makes much sense to compare the two situations.

    Other than that, I appreciate your thoughts, especially on the topic of abortion. Respect.

    • James says:

      It was an example, and maybe not the best, but the point is this: when is the fetus just a fetus and when is a fetus a child? When the mother decides only? Of course, my point isn’t that they’re the same thing, but the fact that we can have two wildly different views on very similar topics means that the topic of abortion is more complex than “always ok / never ok”.

      • teh dude says:

        Yeah it’s incredibly complex man. So we simplify a complex issue to make it more manageable… ie. the mother decides only. But I still don’t think they are similar at all. One scenario involves abuse and tragedy, and the other involves an informed choice (hopefully). I understand that you’re trying to illustrate a different point, that it’s a very deep gray area, and personally I think it would be really odd to abort an older fetus.

        But… if you really need an answer, it’s 42 days.

    • James says:

      I think it would be odd too, but Canadian law says you may abort a fetus of up to nine months of age.


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