Target to Salvation Army: Humbug

Target Corp. says it will no longer allow Salvation Army volunteers outside its stores during the Christmas season. The chain, with 1,100 stores nationwide, said it chose to enforce its existing nonsolicitation policy because increasing numbers of nonprofits have sought the same access to shoppers. The Chicago Tribune reports that the annual kettle campaign raises up to 70 percent of the Army's income nationwide.

Mission and Benevolence Giving Fall

The latest research from Empty Tomb, Inc., shows that church member support of ministry beyond the walls of individual churches has dipped to a 35-year low. As a portion of after-tax income, giving has fallen from .66 percent per capita in 1968 to .38 percent in 2002. The research covers mainly Protestant churches. However, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that giving to the 400 largest charities rose 2.3 percent in 2003. The journal credited the turnaround to an improving economy and a new emphasis on big donors. Paul Nelson, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, told the Chronicle that many nonprofits are ramping up efforts to receive planned gifts. Nelson said 40 percent of ecfa members are still not raising as much as they did before 9/11.

Legal Beat

The U.S. Supreme Court said in October it would reconsider the constitutionality of Ten Commandments displays on government property. The court banned such displays in 1980.
• In October, Focus on the Family reached a settlement with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and Clear Channel Outdoor in a federal lawsuit. Focus, represented by Liberty Counsel, will be able to post ads in Pinellas County (Florida) bus transit shelters for its "Love Won Out" conferences on leaving homosexuality. The county rejected the ads in 2000.
• Avoiding a lawsuit, Ohio State University agreed to change its nondiscrimination policy to allow religious groups to write their own membership rules. The school had threatened to revoke the registered student organization status of the campus chapter of the Christian Legal Society because it did not allow non-Christians or homosexuals to hold office.

Related Elsewhere:

News elsewhere on Target's expelling of the Salvation Army includes:

Covering the Kettles | Target stores say no to Salvation Army Santas. (Nov. 5, 2004, Memphis Flyer, TN)
Salvation Army seeks new donation targets | Bell ringers won't be outside Targets this year (Nov. 3, 2004, Houston Chronicle)
Target silences Salvation Army bells | Company to enforce solicitation policy, won't allow Salvation Army's kettles, fund raising (October 28, 2004, The Dallas Morning News)

empty tomb inc., has more information about the state of church giving.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has an article about the slow rise in giving.

The Associated Press has an article about the Supreme Court's decision to look at Ten Commandment displays on government property.

The Liberty Counsel has more information about Focus on the Family's settlement allowing them to advertise "Love Won Out" conferences.

The Associated Press has an article about OSU's decision to allow student religious groups to write their own membership rules.

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