Advancing Religious Liberty
12/11/12 at 04:18 PM 0 Comments

On the Naughy List? Berkeley Students Attempt to Ban Salvation Army Bell Ringers from Campus

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Author: Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Heather Gebelin Hacker

At Christmas, one would hope that the only controversy surrounding the Salvation Army and their iconic bell ringers would be their fictional dispute with Homelessville and Justin Timberlake. But for a student body obsessed with political correctness at any cost, the mere presence of the bell ringers near campus doing their traditional collection of funds for the needy is intolerable if they are doing so in the name of a Christian organization.

As our friends at reported, the student government at the University of California, Berkeley recently passed a resolution attempting to ban the bell ringers from campus. Regardless of the fact that the Salvation Army helps millions of Americans every year, providing disaster relief, shelter, food, job training, community programs, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, youth camps, and many other programs, the Berkeley students sought to force administrators to revoke the bell ringers’ permits:

“Salvation Army church services, including charity services, are available only to people ‘who accept and abide by the Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline,’ which excludes homosexuality . . . . Allowing the Salvation Army to collect donations on campus is a form of financial assistance that empowers the organization to spend the money it raises here in order to discriminate and advocate discrimination against queer people.”

The Berkeley students also felt it necessary to publicly condemn the Salvation Army, stating they wished to express

“disapproval of the presence of Salvation Army donation containers on campus” because “queer students…may take offense to the presence of collection containers operated by a discriminator religious organization in their places of living.”

Clearly the students felt that the purported “offense” to homosexual students outweighed both the right of the bell ringers to be on campus like others with permits, and the needs of the people the Salvation Army serves. (Despite the fact that record numbers of families are requesting assistance from the Salvation Army this Christmas.) But the Salvation Army specifically denies the allegation that they discriminate on any basis—including sexual orientation—in providing their services to needy people. And if the Berkeley students had just looked at the Salvation Army’s mission statement, available on their website, they would see that this is true:

“The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

Ministry to the poor and needy has been a hallmark of the Christian Church from its earliest days—well before government provided social services. The Salvation Army bell ringers are merely carrying on this longstanding tradition of the Christian faith. Ironically, the Berkeley student government has engaged in their own act of discrimination in attempting to evict these do-gooders from their campus simply because they work for a Christian organization, instead of letting students choose whether they want to drop their change in the red kettles.

I think it’s safe to say that they are on the naughty list this year.

This post originally appeared here.

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