Sally Ann Toy Drive Has Censorship Strings Attached

The Calgary Sun reports the Salvation Army is not distributing any Harry Potter and Twilight toys that have been donated. From the Sun:

The Salvation Army is refusing to distribute Harry Potter and Twilight toys collected for needy children, saying they’re incompatible with the charity’s Christian beliefs.

That’s alarmed a Calgarian who volunteered to sift through a southeast warehouse full of unused, donated items and said he was told by Salvation Army officials that the two genres of toys are “disposed of” and not given to other charities.

“I asked if these toys went to another charitable organizations but was told ‘no’ that by passing these toys on to another agency for distribution would be supporting these toys,” said the man, who wouldn’t give his name due to his occupation.

You might at some point during my Dog Blog career hear me squawk obnoxiously about religious charities.* This is one example of why they make me uneasy — their potential for brainless cultural censorship. Most people — sane people — know the Harry Potter books and films are make-believe fun**, not some kind of obtuse satanic (sorry, Satanic) deception. Whoever made this decision at Sally-Ann HQ is out of step with both reality and society.

That’s a problem. A big problem.

* There are of course some great religious charities and I’m not suggesting religious charities should be shut down or anything insane like that. I’m big a fan of MCC’s work (Mennonite Central Committee), for example.

**Some might say they’re make-believe crap. I haven’t read ’em. Liked the third movie, though.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting his career a terrible, terrible mistake.

5 thoughts on “Sally Ann Toy Drive Has Censorship Strings Attached”

  1. It’s hard to be surprised when an evangelical organization like the Salvation Army does stuff like this. When your faith requires such a literal belief in the veracity of the Bible, silly situations are inevitable.

    A personal example: a family member of mine once threw away his son’s DVD copy of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, because there’s a witch in it and he was an evangelical Christian. When I heard this, I was flabbergasted. C.S. Lewis, the author behind the Chronicles of Narnia, is of course one of the most celebrated Christian authors of all time, and the child protagonists of the film depend on Aslan, who is basically Lion Jesus.

    That said, we rarely have to look far for secular organizations that you could call mixed blessings, and there are also religious aid groups that are doing really awesome work. When the core values of Christianity are upheld, you can get some rad stuff going on, like what the Mennonite Central Committee does.

  2. Two thoughts, and then I REALLY have to get back to shortbread production:
    – charities have an obligation to inform the contributing public up front about what items they will/will not accept, and
    – charities have an obligation to be consistent; i.e. no Harry Potter, no toy guns/violent games.

  3. Yeah MCC! They’ve taken a lot of flack from more evangelically-minded Mennonites who object to MCC’s “Let’s prioritize helping disaster victims with stuff like food and water instead of giving them bibles” stance.

    Check out this story about what the Sally Ann was up to last year: asking for birth certificates before handing out toys to poor children, because they didn’t want to accidentally give anything to needy kids who didn’t have their papers:

  4. Yet another reason to toss upon the already insurmountable pile of reasons to reject religion outright and just do good things because they’re good things.

  5. Darn. Since I’ve finished my Christmas shopping and I heard the Sally Ann was having issues getting enough volunteers for the kettles, I’ve been scouring the internet trying to figure out how to sign up for a few shifts. I always like the idea of helping out the less fortunate, particularly the homeless people who stay at the shelters. And I also rather enjoy bells, so really, it all seemed to be coming together.

    I am, however, also a massive Harry Potter fan. I support organizations like the Harry Potter Alliance which takes the core concepts of Harry Potter (love, support, friendship, standing up to evil and injustice) into the real world. It’s too bad the Salvation Army apparently doesn’t share values like love, supporting others, maintaining friendships or fighting against evil or injustice because that’s what saying no to Harry Potter toys (or worse, books) is really saying.

    I can’t argue against the Twilight ban much myself but really, kids waiting until they’re married before they have sex doesn’t seem all that un-Christian either, even if it does happen to be within an abusive, controlling, and often violent relationship.

    I am slightly curious what Salvation Army values are considering what they’ve excluded but those values have also excluded an otherwise enthusiastic and supportive volunteer.

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