Weblog loves a good argument. This week's furor over a leaked Salvation Army memo and a Bush Administration flip-flop on its promise to protect faith-based organizations from local laws that ban discrimination in hiring hasn't produced much good argument. One problem has been the way that reporting has played down the fact that the Salvation Army is a fundamentally a church—not just a social service agency with religious roots. Now comes perhaps the worst argument of the week: Steven Gorelick's op/ed on the Commentary page of Friday's Chicago Tribune. Gorelick, a sociology and media studies teacher at City University of New York, waxes teary-eyed and nostalgic about an ugly leather coat and an orange velour love seat he once owned and then donated to the Salvation Army. But then he lashes out and labels the Army's desire (common to almost all churches) to hire only those people in sympathy with its beliefs and values a "call to hate."

Such hiring practices are common to nearly all church and parachurch groups (including Christianity Today) because they are necessary to the preservation of the group's identity and mission. But Gorelick hasn't stopped to think about this. He compares the Army's strategy to the Shaker "prohibition on procreation," saying, "You might be able to build beautiful furniture for more than 100 years, but eventually you will come up against an insurmountable shortage of staff." Is that what the Shakers are about—furniture building? No more than the Salvation Army is merely about social services.

Gorelick asks what would lead "an organization that has built a solid, 150-year reputation for helping anyone in need to tarnish itself beyond recognition with a single mean-spirited end-run around local anti-discrimination ...

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