Every year, in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there's a Salvation Army bell-ringer posted by the entrance to the local Publix supermarket.
In general, I find evangelism and missionary activity (of any kind and any creed) distasteful. But when it comes to the Salvation Army, I've always reached into my wallet to slip a five-spot into the bell-ringer's red can. Why?
I guess it's because the S.A.'s activities seem less exploitative than other forms of missionary activity. I have the impression—perhaps mistaken—that the helping comes first at the S.A. and the preaching of God's Word is secondary. (I'd be interested to hear from anybody who has actually received assistance from the S.A. to share their experience in this regard.)
Far too many "people of faith" profess a creed but do not put those beliefs to work to help their neighbors. I am therefore pleased when a Christian group puts down their Bibles to minister to the non-spiritual needs of the poor and suffering. There are 200 million some-odd Christians in the U.S. but far, far fewer who act "Christlike."
I have no problem with giving help to those who need it and, should the needy want spiritual guidance, too, giving them that, too—as long as the latter isn't a prerequisite for the former.
I hope I'm not engaging in wishful thinking here, but please "call me on it" if I am.
Happy holidays to you all!