Handbells are ringing. The red kettles are out. We’re deep into the holiday season and charities across the country are extending their calls for helping hands and dollars. But many non-profit charities, especially those tied to religious organizations, have anti-LGBT policies and practices. While it’s true many of their services provide much-needed housing, food or other resources to the less-advantaged, it’s also a fact some groups discriminate against LGBT people.

When giving this holiday season, be aware of the policies and practices of the organizations to which you donate your hard-earned, queer dollars. Making a difference in the world, feeding the hungry or caring for the sick mustn’t come at the price of discrimination. Among some of the groups to watch out for:

Salvation Army

No one can doubt the great amount of good work the Salvation Army does. They clothe the naked, provide shelter for the homeless and help in ways mostly unimaginable for those of us lucky enough to never experience homelessness, alcoholism or substance abuse. Yet, the group is also one of the most virulently anti-gay charities across the globe. The group routinely lobbies against progressive pieces of local and national legislation (in the U.S. and abroad) meant to curb discrimination, calls homosexuality a “rebellion against God’s plan for the created order” and calls all LGBT people to “embrace celibacy for life.”

Back in 2001, there was, perhaps, a slimmer of hope for the Salvation Army. They approved domestic partner benefits for their gay and lesbian employees. Yet, the progressive streak was short-lived. Shortly after the policy went into effect, the group rescinded the benefits under pressure from various groups among the religious right. In 2004, they threatened to close their New York City soup kitchens if the city council passed legislation that would have required those doing business with the city to offer domestic partner benefits.

[Editor’s Note (Nov. 7, 2013) — For more information on the Salvation Army, read this commentary by Bil Browning and read the Salvation Army’s “position statement” on homosexuality, archived by the Human Rights Campaign.]

Roman Catholic Church

Joining the Salvation Army as one of the most virulently anti-gay charitable organizations across the globe is the Roman Catholic Church. While many of the Salvation Army’s and Catholic Church’s anti-gay policies and practices are the same, there’s really just one major difference: The Church has been doing it for centuries. There’s really no need to go into detail about all the anti-gay doctrines of the Church. Most of them you probably already know. If, by chance, you’re Catholic and offended that your religious institution is included in this list, perhaps you might consider dropping your affiliation with an organization that has persecuted people like you for millennia, subjugates women as property, covered up a worldwide child rape scandal (then blamed it on the gays), worsened the AIDS crisis in Africa and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

Mercy Ministries

This worldwide charity has garnered it’s fair share of controversy. Operating from an anti-LGBT, evangelical and charismatic world-view, the organization offers long-term residential and therapeutic services for young women under 28. The group largely deals with issues like eating disorders, cutting, sexual and emotional abuse, substance abuse and pregnancy. Many of their clients also receive so-called “ex-gay” treatment. The ministry has locations in Nashville, Tenn.; Monroe, La.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Sacramento, Calif. Future locations are planned in Destin, Fla.; Houston, Texas; and Charlotte. International affiliates are based in Canada, the U.K. and New Zealand.

Charlotte Rescue Mission

On a more local level, the Charlotte Rescue Mission is doing it’s best to uphold values of anti-LGBT bigotry and hate. Despite its good works, the organization, like the Salvation Army, upholds anti-gay policies and practices. Such beliefs extend so far into their organization’s operations that they once refused members of the Metropolitan Community Church of Charlotte who offered to do volunteer work at the group’s soup kitchen.

In 2003, members of the church were turned away when they approached the Charlotte Rescue Mission. The mission’s executive director, Rev. Tony Marciano, told local media at the time, “We cannot endorse a church that openly teaches that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle.”

After a personal conversation with Marciano, then-MCC pastor Mick Hinson told qnotes, “Even after a personal conversation with Marciano, the Rescue Mission hadn’t changed its mind. I told him that we weren’t looking for them to support our church. Just the opposite, I explained that we wanted to support them and their mission of feeding the hungry. ‘Well, we can’t support your church,’ he kept saying. He never could get past that.” : :

your voice: Do you know of other anti-LGBT charitable organizations? Have experiences with such groups? Click over to goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging.com and share your thoughts at goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging.com/9403.

Giving wisely

There are several ways you can ensure your money will be spent well and kept out of the hands of anti-LGBT religious organizations. Here are a few questions to ask of your potential donees before handing over your cash or checks:

1. Does the charity’s non-discrimination policies include sexual orientation and gender identity?

2. Do they offer domestic partner benefits to their employees?

3. What is the group’s beliefs or doctrines on homosexuality and/or human sexuality?

4. Does the organization support other anti-LGBT and/or anti-choice organizations (many anti-choice organizations also participate in virulently anti-gay initiatives)?

5. Would the organization provide services, food, clothing or shelter to a family headed up by a same-sex couple?

6. What is the organization’s policy/practice when encountering LGBT young people? Does the organization believe in or support so-called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy?


Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.