Wednesday, December 02, 2009

On Christian charity and good will

Okay, so in this holiday season, I think it would do us well to remember the words of Jesus when he said, "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you demanded two form of identification, established that my parents hadn't gone through the proper channels to immigrate from Bethlehem, and told me that Santa wasn't coming this year because I was a filthy criminal":
They don't claim to know who's been naughty or nice, but some Houston charities are asking whether children are in the country legally before giving them toys.

In a year when more families than ever have asked for help, several programs providing Christmas gifts for needy children require at least one member of the household to be a U.S. citizen. Others ask for proof of income or rely on churches and schools to suggest recipients.

The Salvation Army and a charity affiliated with the Houston Fire Department are among those that consider immigration status, asking for birth certificates or Social Security cards for the children.


The Outreach Program requires parents to show photo identification and birth certificates or Social Security cards for the children. [Lorugene] Young said she makes an exception if parents can show they have applied for legal status or that a child is enrolled in school.

Young said, "It's not our desire to turn anyone down. Those kids are not responsible if they are here illegally. It is the parents' responsibility.”

Um, yeah, Lorugene, you're absolutely right. It's not the kids' responsibility. And it would suck to deny them Christmas presents because of something that's entirely beyond their control. So why don't we try... not doing that.

This isn't the first time the Salvation Army has let politics and discrimination get in the way of good will and charity. In both San Francisco and New York, the S.A. has been willing to close shelters and cut programs for the needy rather than comply with legislation requiring that any businesses that have partnerships or contracts with those cities offer domestic-partner benefits. And they fought hard--successfully--to enjoy federal funds without sacrificing their policy that "unrenounced" gays are "ineligible for Salvation Army soldiership."

And now they want to deny Christmas to little poor kids. Wow. Nice going, there, S.A. Right Christian of you.

Commentary around the Web (and at the bottom of the linked article; never read the comments at the bottom of the article, never) seem to fall into the category of "WTF? What a bunch of douches. It's Christmas, ferfuckssake" or "There are too many Americans in need right now. These people need to just get Christmas presents from their own damn country." To the latter, all I can say is, "Poor children. Poor children, motherfuckers. Little poor children. Regardless of how they ended up in this country, they are poor children. It's not a matter of teeny little border-jumpers stealing teddy bears from the arms of good, clean-living American toddlers. It's a matter of not punishing little kids for what their parents have done and telling them they don't get Christmas because they don't belong here."

And what sucks is that a Salvation Army bucket may be the closest thing a person gets to charity the entire year. I know that personally, unless it's a collection plate or a ringing handbell, I frequently don't think about donating at all. And while I know so many people hate the incessant ringing outside of every store they visit at Christmastime, I absolutely love it and have always seen it as the ultimate symbol of what Christmas is supposed to mean: generosity, compassion, thinking about someone other than ourselves for one damn time in our lives. I don't know if I'll be able to look at it that way anymore, knowing that my handful of change wouldn't make it to some of the people who need it most.
Luke 18:16: "But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

We should expect nothing less from a Christian charity.

Little poor children, ferfuckssake.

No comments: