No Christmas Gifts for Prisoners?

by Larry Hehn on December 19, 2011

prisonerTo celebrate the close of 2011, we’re counting down the Top 10 posts from the history of Christian in the Rough. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

Here is post #10:

Some people at my office were fuming on Friday.

When I asked what was bothering them, they referred me to an article in the Toronto Sun about the Salvation Army giving Christmas gifts to prison inmates. I was amazed at how upset they were. Some forwarded emails in protest, some called the Salvation Army to complain, and some swore they wouldn’t donate to the Salvation Army ever again.

All because the Salvation Army is giving small gift bags to prisoners for Christmas, as a way of building bridges between them and the community.

I like what Salvation Army’s Canadian national spokesman Andrew Burditt had to say about their program, which has been running for years: “The Salvation Army has a real focus on restorative justice. We have this belief that no one is beyond redemption. The Salvation Army serves without discrimination in every aspect across the country.”

But judging by the reaction, not everyone feels the same way:

“I am saddened by the story and feel raged to know my contributions have been going to child molesters and murderers.”

“So the SA wants us to feel sorry for a guy who has been in prison for 27 years and never received a gift? Perhaps if he hadn’t killed and eaten everyone he knows…”

“Last of my donations as they were for the less fortunate, not molesters.”

“for f*** sakes. this was the final charity i would give to because they were the ones to put the most money collected to helping the needy.. now i find they are making life easier for criminals. my donations just stopped. shove your bell up your a**.”

Whew. Merry Christmas, everyone. Thankfully, I was relieved to also see some positive comments as well:

“Christmas is a time for reflection, kindness, compassion and for forgiveness and as a Christian based organization they are doing just that showing some kindness and compassion. Some of these inmates have no family or friends and this little bag is the only thing they’ll get this Christmas. Sure, some deserve to be there, others perhaps through no fault of their own, but they are still human beings and worthy of some sort of kindness at this time of the year.”

“Christmas is a time to express good will to all people whether they be a family in need or a prisoner facing another christmas alone. I support the Salvation Army and celebrate their willingness to reach out to all people…even those some people might consider the worst. Keep up the good work knowing that there are those of us in the community who cheer you on.”

“… a lot of these crooks doing time have had a very rough life and come from environments that would make most of us shudder in dismay. I don’t think that a bit of kindness from Sally Ann is going to hurt anybody and even some of these people behind bars could use some compassion from their fellow man. Who knows, it might do them some good and that being said, God bless Sally Ann, they do some awesome work.”

What do you think?

“Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. – Hebrews 13:1-3

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” – Matthew 25:34-40

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad Huebert December 19, 2011 at 10:57 am

What do I think? I think that true gifts are never deserved anyway. It sounds just about like Jesus to give a gift to a criminal. Oh, now I remember: He did give a gift to a criminal, a guy on death row, hanging next to him on another cross. It’s the people that think they deserve grace that cannot have it.
Brad Huebert recently posted..Death by Christmas (expectations):My Profile

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Larry Hehn December 19, 2011 at 11:05 am

Amen, Brad. Thanks!

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Susie Lindau December 19, 2011 at 11:58 am

I love the Salvation Army. I always go back to what WWJD. In the Catholic faith we are taught that Jesus was forgiving and non-judgmental so it always surprises me when people think it is appropriate to climb into the judges chair.
Great post!

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Larry Hehn December 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm

We could all use a little grace. Thank you, Susie!

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Amy December 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I think I I’ll donate more than I already do to the salvation army. 😉

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Larry Hehn December 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm

That’s the spirit, Amy!

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