Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Newest Grinch This Christmas -- Sean Thomas

As I was reading through the news from around the country today, I came across this headline:
Activist who fought bell ringers explains motives
Man sought to have Salvation Army collectors moved from post office.
Now, the headline alone was enough for me to immediately think of the word Grinch.

Sean Thomas is this week's Grinch who stole Christmas.

Mr. Thomas, a 65 year old gay man, apparently has a bias against the Salvation Army, mistakenly believing that the Salvation Army is anti-gay. It is a sad situation when a person's intolerance and prejudice hurts many needy and deserving people. How you may ask?

The Salvation Army, for 25 years has had bell ringers located in front of a post office in Orange County. It is one of their best producing sites, averaging over 6,000 dollars a year. Because of one man's prejudice, the Post Office asked the Salvation Army to move from their spot of 25 years; the Salvation Army moved to the entrance of a nearby mall.

Mr. Tomas said about the Salvation Army being at the Post Office:
"How can we have a church set up a collection facility in front of a federal building?" the 65-year-old Brea resident said today; he is chairman of human resources for a Unitarian Universalist Church in Fullerton. "I wanted to know who allowed these people to be here. … I don't think it is appropriate."

"Would it be right for my church to solicit funds in front of the post office?"

Not only was Mr. Tomas angry at the Salvation Army being in front of the post office, he was angry to know that the Salvation Army partners with the city's resource center, which staffs the kettles with volunteers from local churches, community groups, schools and city staff. The resource center doles out the money to charities.
"For the city to be involved in the middle of it bothers the heck out of me," Thomas said.

At least some people locally don't agree. The local Mayor could not believe a single person would do something to harm others who would benefit from the Salvation Army's programs
"First off, I don't believe that it is a church-and-state issue," Schweitzer said. "It's an issue of a charity raising funds for the needy of the community. It saddens me that there is a member of our community that would take action and reduce those funds that we've been counting on for 30 years."
A spokesperson for the Salvation Army disputed the charges that the organization was anti-gay:
Major Lee Lescano, the Salvation Army's Orange County coordinator, disagreed with Thomas as well.

"We are absolutely nondiscriminatory,'' he said. "We serve gays on a regular basis in our treatment centers and other programs with no discrimination. I would not consider us anti-gay in any shape or form."
A part of me wonders if this is just further backlash from a gay individual, lashing out at a Christian organization because of Prop 8 passing, or is Mr. Tomas just a prejudiced, intolerant person who simply doesn't care about others in need, who are helped out by the one organization he has singled out and attacked.

Either way, Sean Thomas is this week's Grinch who has stolen Christmas for his community.

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