Ignoring the crass outpouring of rabid nationalism, one of the more endearing elements of the bushfire crisis was the massive amounts of cash raised by diverse members of the Australian community. AFL fans donated $1.5 million, a Rose Tattoo-helmed Channel Nine telethon raked in $20 million, while the Australian Jockeys Association dug deep to stump up $20,000.
But one well-meaning donor has had trouble getting its largesse accepted. Last week, s-x industry lobbyists the Eros Assocation phoned the Salvation Army to donate $5,000 of its hard-earned to the Salvos’ appeal. A simple swipe of the credit card, one might imagine. But not only did the Salvos refuse to accept Eros’ money, but the group’s veteran spruiker Robbie Swan was then berated by the Salvos media unit, with the strong inference that the Eros cash was irredeemably tainted by its lusty origins.
Clearly, there’s an obvious moral tension between the outlook of the s-x industry and religious charities — not exactly a mind-blowing revelation. But interestingly, not all members of the Salvos seem to share the views of senior management.
Brisbane’s S-xpo opened yesterday and not only do the Salvos have a prominent stall, but the uniformed attendants are taking their role very seriously indeed, dispensing comforting words to victims of human trafficking. Any quibbles over the “morals” of maintaining a presence seemed to have given way to a crisis of immediate import. Kind of like the Victorian bushfires.
This isn’t the first time Eros has been rebuffed by a charity on moral grounds. In February 2007, a $25,000 donation for tsunami victims was rejected by Tim Costello’s World Vision, citing internal guidelines prohibiting the acceptance of p-rn-sourced cash. Doctors Without Borders took $25,000 but a few months ago prohibited donations pending a Board discussion.
Simeon Hoffmann, who is manning the Salvos stand at S-xpo, told Crikey that the response has been overwhelming with a constant stream of patrons approaching him and fellow volunteers for a chat.
“We want to show support for people in the s-x industry that have been trafficked and we want people to be aware that trafficking is still going on”, Hoffmann said.
Hoffmann claims Salvos management were “highly supportive” of the S-xpo presence after a worldwide decision was made to attack the issue of trafficking head-on. He said he hoped the Salvos’ decision to reject the Eros donation didn’t impact on the good work underway at S-xpo. Hofmann said that while the S-xpo stall might raise eyebrows among the Salvos’ more conservative members, this reflected a lack of awareness on their behalf.
Other religious groups also have stands at S-xpo — the Bible Society of Queensland were seen roaming the floor yesterday dispensing copies of their Jesus Loves P-rn Stars tome, authored by members of an outfit called the “XXX Church”. Bible Society spokesman Steve Davies makes the salient point that the p-rn industry would lose 45% of its clients if Christians stopped consuming their products.
The schism within the Salvos is said to be between moralists at the top and the serious charity workers at the bottom. In 2003, it was revealed the Salvos had rejected a $5 million donation from Tattersall’s in the early 1990s. In a curious statement (read it here) management seemed to be saying that rejecting gambling money is more about style than substance. The $120 million the Salvos receive from State and Federal governments is sourced from all sorts of vice taxes, especially, in Victoria’s case, gambling operators. It is not known whether individual donors to the Salvos annual Red Shield Appeal are similarly vetted for moral scruples.
Crikey‘s calls to Salvos management to discuss the rejected Eros donation were not returned before deadline.