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Salvation Army donation debate rages as activists call out charity

Posted at 8:23 AM, Nov 22, 2019

DENVER — This week, the Salvation Army lost a prominent backer when Chick-fil-A announced they would no longer donate to the charity. Now, activists are calling on others to stop donating and promoting the charity.

"There are so many charities that do the same work that the Salvation Army does, that it is an affront to the LGBT community that people still put money in the red bucket when there are so many other options that don't involve hate towards our community," Denver Community Activist Andy Szekeres said.

The Salvation Army, a Christian organization, has been accused of refusing services to people because of their sexual orientation for years. They have also been accused of trying to exempt themselves from anti-discrimination laws in the past.

They are one of the largest charities in America and brought in $3.8 billion in revenue last year. The Salvation Army says their services help 23 million people a year.

But activists point out that the religious charity gets about 10% of its budget from government funding. In Colorado alone, about $3.5 of $45 million of the Salvation Army's total revenue is from government funding.

"I've worked in LGBT politics and activism for over a decade, and it's frustrating to see friends of mine, politicians I've supported, champions of mine, including the mayor, stand out there and promote it," Szekeres said.

In 2017, a national spokesman for the Salvation Army said the charity had "evolved." They say they are committed to serving the LGBTQ Community and call accusations of discrimination "misconceptions." On its website, the Salvation Army includes a section highlighting its work in the LGBTQ community.

Many in the Colorado area say they will continue to support the charity for the good they do. They say no organization or person is perfect.

"I feel like today you just can't win no matter what you do," Kathleen Luczik said. "If you are trying to do something good for somebody, you are going to get criticized."

The Salvation Army declined to speak on camera about Chick-fil-A's decision to stop supporting the charity. They would only agree to an interview to discuss their Red Kettle Campaign.

They released a statement saying in part, "We're saddened to learn that a corporate partner has felt it necessary to divert funding to other hunger, education and homelessness organizations…. We urge the public to seek the truth before rushing to ill-informed judgment…"

It should also be noted that Chic-fil-A received criticism for ending their commitment to the Salvation Army.

This story was originally published by Jessica Porter on KMGH in Denver.