An interesting email exchange was passed along to me that I’ve been given permission to publicize regarding books that are sold at Salvation Army Thrift Stores.
Over the course of the exchange (which lasts several months and includes many non-responses from the Army), it is admitted that the Salvation Army occasionally censors donated books that they receive that do not fit their Christian worldview. The censored books are then destroyed.
I’m not going to post the entire exchange here, or give out names or emails, but here’s some choice snippets (Salvation Army spokespeople in bold):
The Salvation Army store staff do their best to screen books so that we don’t sell books of a pornographic nature, or those that promote promiscuity.
If you find a book that you feel falls into the above categories, please don’t hesitate to bring it to the attention of the store Manager.
Regarding books that describe various philosophies on creation and evolution, non-Christian philosophies and beliefs, etc. we do sell those, as long as they don’t promote non-Christian beliefs. Again, if you see something that should not be on the shelf, please address it with the Store Manager, who will be happy to remove it if it’s unsuitable.
Does this mean that you will be more vigilant about Shakespeare, Greek mythology, or similar classical literature?
- No, because to meet the criteria which you are advocating, we would have to have staff with a thorough knowledge of every author, their opinions, theologies, writing styles etc and that is possible. We do the best we can with the resources and knowledge that we have available to us. We realize that our system is far from perfect,but we try to screen the books at our warehouse and again at store level, but it is difficult because of the enormous volume we process.
What books (besides pornography and promiscuity) are removed from your shelves?
Books that promote any religion other than Christianity. Certain authors who we know use bad language, explicit sex or violence in their books. Again, I repeat our knowledge in this area is limited so it is highly probable that we miss some unsuitable books.
What happens to those books? Are they put in a place where others may read them?
Destroyed, not re-circulated.
Of course the Army is not known for it’s progressive ideas, including about homosexuality:
For this reason such practices [as homosexuality], if unrenounced, render a person ineligible for Salvation Army soldiership, in the same way that unrenounced heterosexual misconduct is a bar to soldiership. The Army recognises the strength of feeling about sexual identity, and the difficulty many find in expressing this identity in keeping with scriptural standards.
However, it believes firmly in the power of God’s grace to enable the maintenance of a lifestyle pleasing to him, including a lifestyle built upon celibacy and self-restraint for those who will not or cannot marry. No one who yields to the lordship of Christ and who undertakes by his grace to live in accordance with the teaching of Scripture is excluded from Christian fellowship and service in the Army.
So when donating at Christmas, or giving away used clothes, books, or other belongings, consider Value Village or other thrift stores which donate portions of their profits to secular charities.