Way beyond the pale

Posted: Friday, July 13, 2001

Those who were dismissed as alarmists for warning about the extremist agenda of the Republicans have been vindicated. Dire predictions that the so-called faith-based initiative would prove to be a devil's bargain have turned out to be correct.

According to documents uncovered by the Washington Post and reported in the Empire a couple of days ago, the Salvation Army recently came to a secret agreement with the Bush Junior Administration, whereby the federal government, far from remaining constitutionally neutral when it comes to dictating the appropriateness of religious beliefs, and far from supporting the Thirteenth Amendment rights of all Americans to equal treatment before the law, will support and defend religiously based bigotry whenever such discrimination runs afoul of local or state laws.

In return, the vaunted Army will use its political clout to push the right-wing Republican agenda of funneling taxpayer money to causes and religions whose tenets may be opposed by those same taxpayers. Keep in mind that the political clout being exercised was developed using moneys which were specifically exempted from taxation on the binding condition that the recipient of the exemption refrain from any and all partisan political activity, and especially from using the tax-exempt funds in question for such activity.

I feel strongly that this conduct, which many legal scholars would consider unconstitutional if not down right criminal, is not merely morally reprehensible but unspeakable, and should elicit the same response as was used effectively in Montgomery in 1955 to help undermine legal segregation: Boycott the Salvation Army! Let them know that using public funds to support and encourage bigotry and hatred, especially hatred directed against members of the public who are indirectly supplying those funds through the Salvation Army's tax exempt status, is way beyond the pale, even now in the era of the last gasp of democracy. Don't shop in Salvation Army stores, and don't donate to their drives, unless and until they publicly repudiate both the agreement and the bigotry that led them to enter into it in the first place.

Ron Reed


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