The Salvation Army is a Christian denominational church and an international charitable organization structured in a quasi-military fashion. The organization reports a worldwide membership of over 1.5 million, consisting of soldiers, officers and adherents known as Salvationists. Its founders Catherine and William Booth sought to bring salvation to the poor, destitute and hungry by meeting both their "physical and spiritual needs". It is present in 127 countries, running charity shops, operating shelters for the homeless, and providing disaster relief and humanitarian aid to developing countries. In the US, the Salvation Army claims to be largely a secular service provider not a religious denomination, and seeks funds through united charities such as the United Way.
The theology of the Salvation Army is derived from that of Methodism although it is distinctive in institution and practice. The Army's doctrine is typical of evangelical Protestant denominations. The Army's purposes are "the advancement of the Christian religion… of education, the relief of poverty, and other charitable objects beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole."
The Army was founded in 1865 in London by one-time Methodist circuit-preacher William Booth. Originally known as the East London Christian Mission, in 1878 Booth reorganized the mission, becoming its first General and introducing the military structure which has been retained to the present day. The current world leader of The Salvation Army is General André Cox, who was elected by the High Council of The Salvation Army on 3 August 2013.
The Salvation Army is estimated to hold 0.3% share among the worldwide Protestant population.
The Salvation Army was founded in London's East End in 1865 by one-time Methodist Reform Church minister William Booth and his wife Catherine. Originally, Booth named the organization the East London Christian Mission. The name The Salvation Army developed from an incident during 19 and 20 May. William Booth was dictating a letter to his secretary George Scott Railton and said, "We are a volunteer army." Bramwell Booth heard his father and said, "Volunteer! I'm no volunteer, I'm a regular!" Railton was instructed to cross out the word "volunteer" and substitute the word "salvation". The Salvation Army was modeled after the military, with its own flag (or colors) and its own hymns, often with words set to popular and folkloric tunes sung in the pubs. Booth and the other soldiers in "God's Army" would wear the Army's own uniform, for meetings and ministry work. He became the "General" and his other ministers were given appropriate ranks as "officers". Other members became "soldiers".
When William Booth became known as the General, Catherine is known as the "Mother of The Salvation Army". William preached to the poor, and Catherine spoke to the wealthy, gaining financial support for their work. She also acted as a religious minister, which was unusual at the time; the Foundation Deed of the Christian Mission states that women had the same rights to preach as men. William Booth described the organization's approach: "The three ‘S's’ best expressed the way in which the Army administered to the 'down and outs': first, soup; second, soap; and finally, salvation."
In 1880, the Salvation Army started its work in three other countries: Australia, Ireland, and the United States. It was not always an official Officer of The Salvation Army who started the Salvation Army in a new country; sometimes Salvationists emigrated to countries and started operating as "the Salvation Army" on their own authority. When the first official officers arrived in Australia and the United States, they found groups of Salvationists already waiting for them and started working with each other.
The Salvation Army's main converts were at first alcoholics, morphine addicts, prostitutes and other "undesirables" unwelcome in polite Christian society, which helped prompt the Booths to start their own church. The Booths did not include the use of sacraments (mainly baptism and Holy Communion) in the Army's form of worship, believing that many Christians had come to rely on the outward signs of spiritual grace rather than on grace itself. Other beliefs are that its members should completely refrain from drinking alcohol (Holy Communion is not practiced), smoking, taking illegal drugs and gambling. Its soldiers wear a uniform tailored to the country in which they work; the uniform can be white, grey, navy, fawn and are even styled like a sari in some areas. Any member of the public is welcome to attend their meetings. As the Salvation Army grew rapidly in the late 19th century, it generated opposition in England. Opponents, grouped under the name of the Skeleton Army, disrupted Salvation Army meetings and gatherings, with tactics such as throwing rocks, bones, rats, and tar as well as physical assaults on members of The Salvation Army. Much of this was led by pub owners who were losing business because of the Army's opposition to alcohol and targeting of the frequenters of saloons and public houses.
The Salvation Army's reputation in the United States improved as a result of its disaster relief efforts following the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The familiar use of bell ringers to solicit donations from passers-by "helps complete the American portrait of Christmas."[according to whom?] In the U.S. alone, over 25,000 volunteers with red kettles are stationed near retail stores during the weeks preceding Christmas for fundraising. The church remains a highly visible and sometimes controversial presence in many parts of the world.
In 1994, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, an industry publication, released the results of the largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility. The study showed that The Salvation Army was ranked as the 4th "most popular charity/non-profit in America" of over 100 charities researched, with 47% of Americans over the age of 12 choosing 'Love' and 'Like A Lot' for The Salvation Army.
Structure, organization and expenditures
As of September 1, 2015, the Salvation Army operates in 127 countries and provides services in 175 different languages. For administrative purposes, the Salvation Army divides itself geographically into territories, which are then sub-divided into divisions. In larger areas, regional and area commands are also introduced as sub-divisions of divisions. Each territory has an administrative hub known as territorial headquarters (THQ). Likewise, each division has a divisional headquarters (DHQ). Each of these territories is led by a territorial commander who receives orders from the Salvation Army's International Headquarters in London. A territory is normally led by an officer holding the rank of colonel (for small territories) or commissioner for larger territories. In some countries, the work of The Salvation Army may be called a command, led by a command commander. A larger command is typically led by an officer holding the rank of colonel.
Its stated membership (as quoted from 2010 Year Book) includes 16,938 active and 9,190 retired officers, 1,122,326 soldiers, 189,176 Adherents, 39,071 Corps Cadets, 378,009 Junior Soldiers, around 104,977 other employees and more than 4.5 million volunteers. Members of The Salvation Army also include "adherents", these are people who do not make the commitment to be a soldier but who formally recognize The Salvation Army as their church. (According to the 2006 Salvation Army Year Book, in the United States there are 85,148 Senior Soldiers and 28,377 Junior Soldiers, 17,396 Adherents and around 60,000 employees.)
The current world Leader of the Salvation Army is General André Cox.
The Salvation Army is one of the world's largest providers of social aid, with expenditures including operating costs of $2.6 billion in 2004, helping more than 32 million people in the U.S. alone. In addition to community centers and disaster relief, the organization does work in refugee camps, especially among displaced people in Africa. The Salvation Army has received an A- rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy. In the United Kingdom, the Salvation Army is no longer the largest non-governmental provider of social services; however provides a significant service to people in need. The Salvation Army is the second largest charity in the United States, with private donations of almost $2 billion for the fiscal year ending 30 September 2007.
In 2004, the Army in the United States received a $1.6 billion donation in the will of Joan B. Kroc, third wife of former McDonald's CEO Ray Kroc. This donation was among the largest individual philanthropic gifts ever given to a single organization. The donation came with certain restrictions that caused some controversy.
The International Congress of The Salvation Army is normally held every 10 years as a conference for all Salvationists from around the world to meet. The first such conference took place in London, UK, from 28 May to 4 June 1886, and subsequent Congressional meetings were held sporadically until 1904 and then 1990. The seventh International Congress in Atlanta, GA, USA, from 28 June to 2 July 2000, was the first held outside of the UK. The latest International Congress was held in London, England 1–5 July 2015, in commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of The Salvation Army's founding.
Officers are given 'Marching Orders' to change ministries within The Salvation Army. Usually, officers are given new Marching Orders every two to five years and reassigned to different posts, sometimes moving great distances.
A Moscow court ruled that the Salvation Army was a paramilitary organization subject to expulsion. In October 2006, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the original decision illegal.
The beliefs of the Salvation Army rest upon these eleven doctrines:
- We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that only they constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.
- We believe that there is only one God, who is infinitely perfect, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and who is the only proper object of religious worship.
- We believe that there are three persons in the Godhead – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, undivided in essence and co-equal in power and glory.
- We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ the divine and human natures are united, so that he is truly and properly God and truly and properly man.
- We believe that our first parents were created in a state of innocence, but by their disobedience they lost their purity and happiness, and that in consequence of their fall all men have become sinners, totally depraved and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.
- We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has, by his suffering and death, made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever believeth in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah will may be saved.
- We believe that repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, are necessary to salvation.
- We believe that we are justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that he that believeth hath the witness in himself.
- We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.
- We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- We believe in the immortality of the soul; in the resurrection of the body; in the general judgment at the end of the world; in the eternal happiness of the righteous; and in the endless punishment of the wicked.
The denomination does not celebrate the Christian sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion; although its officers conduct marriages, it holds a traditional Protestant belief that marriage was not instituted by Christ and therefore is not a sacrament.
The Salvation Army opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide, and accepts abortion only in extreme cases such as to save the life of the mother. Their official statement says: "The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of all human life and considers each person to be of infinite value and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and redeemed. Human life is sacred because it is made in the image of God and has an eternal destiny. (Genesis 1:27) Sacredness is not conferred, nor can it be taken away by human agreement." It is also against the death penalty: "The Salvation Army recognises that the opinions of Salvationists are divided on the moral acceptability of capital punishment and its effectiveness as a deterrent. However, to advocate in any way the continuance or restoration of capital punishment in any part of the world would be inconsistent with the Army’s purposes and contrary to the Army’s belief that all human life is sacred and that each human being, however wretched, can become a new person in Christ."
In 2012, the Salvation Army published a "Positional Statement on Homosexuality" after receiving adverse publicity about their position on homosexuality.
- "The Bible teaches that God’s intention for humankind is that society should be ordered on the basis of lifelong, legally sanctioned heterosexual unions...A disposition towards homosexuality is not in itself blameworthy nor is the disposition seen as rectifiable at will...Homosexual practice however, is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable. Such activity is chosen behaviour and is thus a matter of the will. It is therefore able to be directed or restrained in the same way heterosexual urges are controlled. Homosexual practice would render any person ineligible for full membership (soldiership) in the Army."
Presently, the organization will not appoint homosexuals to posts as ministers, preferring individuals "whose values are consistent with the church's philosophy." (See also Salvation Army Controversies: Stance on Homosexuality section.)
The ordination of women is permitted in the Salvation Army. Salvation Army officers were previously allowed to marry only other officers (this rule varies in different countries); but this rule has been relaxed in recent years. Husbands and wives usually share the same rank and have the same or similar assignments—the major exception to this is the General's spouse, who holds the rank of commissioner.
The Salvation Army flag is a symbol of the Army's war against sin and social evils. The red on the flag symbolizes the blood shed by Jesus Christ, the yellow for the fire of the Holy Spirit and the blue for the purity of God the Father.
The oldest official emblem of The Salvation Army is the crest.
In 1878 Captain W.H. Ebdon suggested a logo, and in 1879 it was to be found on the letterhead of the Salvation Army Headquarters. The captain's suggested design was changed only slightly and a crown was added.
The meaning of the crest:
The cross: The cross of the Lord Jesus Christ
The "S": Salvation from sin through Jesus
The ray on the outside of the circle: The Fire of the Holy Spirit
The dots: The Truth of the Gospel
The swords: Spiritual Warfare
"Blood and Fire": The Blood which was shed by Jesus for our sins and the Fire of the Holy Spirit
The Red Shield has its origins in Salvation Army work during war time. At the end of the 19th century, Staff-Captain Mary Murray was sent by William Booth to support British troops serving in the Boer War in South Africa. Then, in 1901, this same officer was given the task of establishing the Naval and Military League, the forerunner of the Red Shield Services.
Salvation Army officers serving in the Red Shield Services in wartime performed many functions. The Doughnut Girls of World War I are an early example, serving refreshments to troops in the trenches. They also provided first aid stations, ambulances, chaplaincy, social clubs, Christian worship and other front-line services.
This symbol is still used in Blue Shield Services that serve the British Armed Forces but it is widely used as a simple, more readily identifiable symbol in many Salvation Army settings. It is common to see the Red Shield used on casual Salvation Army uniform. It is now official Salvation Army policy in the UK that the red shield should be used as the external symbol of the Salvation Army, with the Crest only being used internally. Therefore, any new Salvation Army building will now have the red shield on the outside rather than the crest which certainly would have been used on its Corps (church) buildings.
In Australia, the Red Shield has become one of the country's most identified and trusted brands, leading the Australian Salvation Army to prefer to use this symbol over the logo on its uniform, corps buildings and advertising materials. In the 5th Volume of it was recorded that "Research reveals that the popular Salvation Army slogan ‘Thank God for the Salvos’ has almost total recognition amongst the Australian public, achieving 93 per cent aided awareness".
The Salvation Army consistently comes out in research as the charity where people would most like to donate (named spontaneously).
Similarly the Red Shield logo is highly desired by companies wishing to link their brand with a solid emblem of care and compassion.
Salvation Army officers and soldiers often wear uniforms. The idea that they should do so originated with Elijah Cadman who, at The Salvation Army's 'War Congress' in August 1878 said "I would like to wear a suit of clothes that would let everyone know I meant war to the teeth and salvation for the world". The uniform identifies the wearer as a Salvationist and a Christian. It also symbolizes availability to those in need. The uniform takes many forms internationally but is characterized by the 'S' insignia for 'Salvation' and carries the meaning 'Saved to Serve', or 'Saved to Save'. Other letters are substituted to conform with local language.
Since 1983 there has been an official Salvation Army tartan. It was designed by Captain Harry Cooper, for the Perth Citadel Corps centenary commemoration. It is based upon the colors of the Salvation Army Flag, with which it shares the same symbolism. However, it is rarely seen outside Scotland.
The Salvation Army has a unique form of salute which involves raising the right hand above shoulder-height with the index finger pointing upwards. It signifies recognition of a fellow citizen of heaven, and a pledge to do everything possible to get others to heaven also. In the case of saluting in response to applause, in circumstances such as a musical festival or being applauded for a speech, it also signifies that the Salvationist wishes to give Glory to God and not themselves.
In some instances, the salute is accompanied with a shout of 'hallelujah!'
As the popularity of the organization grew and Salvationists worked their way through the streets of London attempting to convert individuals, they were sometimes confronted with unruly crowds. A family of musicians (the Frys, from Alderbury, Wiltshire) began working with the Army as their "bodyguards" and played music to distract the crowds.
The tradition of having musicians available continued and eventually grew into standard brass bands. These are still seen in public at Army campaigns, as well as at other festivals, parades and at Christmas. Across the world the brass band has been an integral part of the Army’s ministry and an immediately recognizable symbol to Salvationists and non-Salvationists alike. The Salvation Army also has choirs; these are known as Songster Brigades, normally comprising the traditional soprano, alto, tenor and bass singers. The premier Songster Brigade in the Salvation Army is the International Staff Songsters (ISS).
The standard of playing is high and the Army operates bands at the international level, such as the International Staff Band (a brass band) which is the equal of professional ensembles although it does not participate in the brass band contest scene, and territorial levels such as the New York Staff Band. Some professional brass players and contesting brass band personnel have Salvation Army backgrounds. Many Salvation Army corps have brass bands that play at Salvation Army meetings, although not all.
The Salvation Army also fielded large concertina bands. From the turn of the (20th) century to the Second World War between a third and a half of all SA officers in Britain played concertina. For an evangelist the concertina's portability, its ability to play both melody and chords, and most especially the fact that the player can sing or speak while playing, were all distinct advantages over brass instruments.
The Army tradition in music is to use the popular idiom of the day to reach people for Jesus. The Army's Joy Strings were a hit pop group in the 1960s and early 1970s in the UK and beyond, reaching the charts and being featured on national television. Another popular band is The Insyderz, an American ska-core group popular in the 1990s and early 2000s. Hundreds of current bands carry on this Salvation Army tradition, such as New Zealand's Moped, Chamberlain, Vatic, Agent C, and The Lads; England's Electralyte; Australia's Soteria Music Ministries and Escape; and America's transMission, The Singing Company, HAB, BurN, and CJD – Cookies, Juice, & Donuts. Saytunes is a website designed to encourage and promote these contemporary Salvation Army bands and artists.
Another significant musical feature of the Salvation Army is its use of tambourines. With colored ribbons representing the colors of the Salvation Army flag, timbrels play an integral facet of music in the Salvation army. They are mainly played by women.
Local corps usually sing contemporary worship music songs in Sunday worship services, as well as traditional hymns and music accompanied by the brass band.
Today it is becoming common in Salvation Army corps not to have a full brass band. This is reflective for many social and cultural reasons. Some Salvation Army corps make use of smaller ensembles of musicians. Often this ensemble consists simply of a guitar, piano or a keyboard, drums and sometimes a bass guitar and other instruments, especially during "Youth Fellowships".
The music played does tend to also take on a more contemporary style as is reflected in modern music today. The early Salvation Army bands were known for their excitement and public appeal, and the modern ensemble keeps to this ideology. Traditional hymns are still used in worship services and these are blended with other musical pieces from Christian Music Publishers such as Vineyard Music, Hillsong, and Planet Shakers to name but a few.
In the USA The Salvation Army's first major forays into disaster relief resulted from the tragedies of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The Salvationists' nationwide appeals for financial and material donations yielded tremendous support, enabling the Army to provide assistance to thousands. General Evangeline Booth, when she offered the services of Salvationists to President Woodrow Wilson during the First World War, thrust Salvation Army social and relief work to newer heights. Today the Salvation Army is best known for its charitable efforts.
The Salvation Army is a non-governmental relief agency and is usually among the first to arrive with help after natural or man-made disasters. They have worked to alleviate suffering and help people rebuild their lives. After the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, they arrived immediately at some of the worst disaster sites to help retrieve and bury the dead. Since then they have helped rebuild homes and construct new boats for people to recover their livelihood. Members were prominent among relief organizations after Hurricane Hugo and Hurricane Andrew and other such natural disasters in the United States. In August 2005, they supplied drinking water to poor people affected by the heat wave in the United States. Later in 2005 they responded to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They have helped the victims of an earthquake in Indonesia in May 2006.
Since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, The Salvation Army has allocated donations of more than $365 million to serve more than 1.7 million people in nearly every state. The Army’s immediate response to Hurricane Katrina included the mobilization of more than 178 canteen feeding units and 11 field kitchens which together have served more than 5.7 million hot meals, 8.3 million sandwiches, snacks and drinks. Its SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network) network of amateur ham-radio operators picked up where modern communications left off to help locate more than 25,000 survivors. And, Salvation Army pastoral care counselors were on hand to comfort the emotional and spiritual needs of 277,000 individuals. As part of the overall effort, Salvation Army officers, employees and volunteers have contributed more than 900,000 hours of service.
The Salvation Army was one of the first relief agencies on the scene of the September 11 attacks in New York. They also provided prayer support for families of missing people.
The Salvation Army, along with the American National Red Cross, Southern Baptist Convention, and other disaster relief organizations, are national members of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD).
Also among the disaster relief capabilities is the Red Shield Defence Services, often called the SallyMan for short. The effort that they put in is similar to that of a chaplain, and reaches many more, offering cold drinks, hot drinks, and some biscuits for the soldiers of the military to have, though, if a SallyMan is on deployment, the locals are offered a share in the produce.
In Australia the Salvation Army have Emergency Services Support Units throughout the country, providing food and other welfare to members of the Emergency Services such as bushfires, floods, land search, and other both large- and small-scale emergency operations undertaken by Police, Fire, Ambulance and State Emergency Service members, and the general public affected by these events.
Thrift Stores and charity
The Salvation Army is well known for its network of thrift stores or charity shops, colloquially referred to as "the Sally Ann" in Canada and "Salvos Stores" in Australia, which raise money for its rehabilitation programs by selling donated used items such as clothing, housewares and toys. The Salvation Army has a history of free rehabilitation from alcohol and drug abuse. Thrift stores provide the revenue to run the Adult Rehabilitation Centres known as ARCs. The ARCs, found in many global locations, are work and Bible-based operating with the 12-step program, and offer residential facilities. Clothing collected by Salvation Army stores that are not sold on location are often sold wholesale on the global second hand clothing market.
The Salvation Army operates a fleet of trucks that picks up donations from people's homes to benefit the Thrift Stores. Donations of clothing, furniture and other household items can be scheduled online at SATruck.org. Large-scale charity events fuel the network of "Sally's" and are common throughout the year but are most prevalent during the Christmas season.
In many countries, The Salvation Army is most recognized during the Christmas season with its volunteers and employees who stand outside of businesses and play/sing Christmas carols, or ring bells to inspire passersby to place donations of cash and cheques inside red kettles. A tradition has developed in the United States in which, in some places, gold coins or rings are anonymously inserted into the kettles. This was first recorded in 1982, in Crystal Lake, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
Red Shield Appeal
The Red Shield Appeal is an annual fundraising campaign in some territories, such as the UK and Australia. Each year, officers, soldiers, employees and volunteers take to the streets worldwide to participate in door-to-door or street collections. The money raised is specifically channelled towards The Salvation Army's social work in each respective territory. Within the Territory defined by the United Kingdom and Ireland (UKIT) this collection is known as the Annual Appeal, and it often carries another name that the generally public would more readily know - in 2012 becoming The Big Collection.
Family Tracing Service
The Family Tracing Service (sometimes known as the Missing Persons Service) was established in 1885, and the service is now available in most of the countries where The Salvation Army operates. The Tracing Service's objective is to restore (or to sustain) family relationships where contact has been lost, whether recently or in the distant past. Thousands of people are traced every year on behalf of their relatives.
The Salvation Army includes multiple youth groups, which primarily consist of its Sunday schools and the Scout and Guide packs that are sometimes set up. The Scout and Guide packs are affiliated and sponsored by The Salvation Army but are open units allowing anyone to join, these units/pack observe Christian standards and encourage the young people to investigate and develop in their Christian faith. Some territories have Salvation Army Guards and Legions Association (SAGALA). In the United States these internal youth groups that are specifically for females are known as Girl Guards (older females) and Sunbeams (younger females). Adventure Corps serves boys who are enrolled in school for first through eighth grade, and is sometimes separated into Rangers (older males) and Explorers (younger males).
In the new millennium, The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom created a sub-brand of itself for the youth, called Alove, the Salvation Army for a new generation. Its purpose is to free the youth of the church and their communities to express themselves and their faith in their own ways. Its mission statement is "Calling a generation to dynamic faith, radical lifestyle, adventurous mission and a fight for justice.", and it emphasizes worship, discipleship, missions, and social action. Alove is a member of The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS).
General George Carpenter founded the Cross of the Order Of Distinguished Auxiliary Service in 1941 to express the Salvation Army's gratitude for service given to the organization by non-Salvationists. The Cross has been awarded to parliamentarians, lawyers, doctors, financiers and members of the nobility.
- "New Frontier Chronicle" - news and networking for The Salvation Army
- "Caring Magazine" - curating conversation around issues of social concern
- The War Cry newspaper, first published in 1879 in the United Kingdom.
- Faith and Friends magazine
- Salvationist magazine
- Word and Deed journal
- KidZone magazine
- Priority magazine
- Pipeline, The Salvation Army's news, features and opinion magazine
Criticism by LGBT activists
Some in the United States have alleged that The Salvation Army discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in its hiring practices. The Salvation Army states that it does not "discriminate against hiring gays and lesbians for the majority of its roughly 55,000 jobs". Because The Salvation Army is a church, Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows it to inquire into people's religious beliefs in its hiring practices. In 2001, the Salvation Army pressed the Bush Administration to exempt it and other religious groups from anti-discrimination legislation which it felt infringed on the organization's religious freedoms. This request was denied, and was sharply rebuked by David Smith, then-spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. “Gays and lesbians are taxpayers, too,” said Smith. “Their money should not be used by religious groups to fund discriminatory practices against them."
The Salvation Army Western Territory approved a plan in October 2001 to start offering domestic-partnership benefits to gay employees. Members of various evangelical Christian interest groups protested the decision. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson excoriated the Salvation Army for abandoning its "moral integrity" and urged his radio listeners to bombard the organization's offices with phone calls and letters. The American Family Association also accused the Salvation Army of a "monstrous ... appeasement of sin" that resulted in a "betrayal of the church." In November 2001 The Salvation Army nationwide rescinded the Western Territory's decision with an announcement that it would only provide benefits coverage for different-sex spouses and dependent children of its employees.
In 2004, The Salvation Army said they would close operations in New York City unless it was exempted from a municipal ordinance requiring them to offer benefits to gay employees’ partners. The City Council refused to make the exemption. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's administration chose not to enforce the ordinance. The administration's right to decline to enforce the ordinance was upheld by the New York State Court of Appeals in 2006.
On 15 December 2012, in Canada, Andrea Le Good noticed a Salvation Army bell-ringer carrying a sign reading "if you support gay rights: please do not donate." While the bell-ringer claimed he had permission from the charity to wear the sign, Salvation Army spokeswoman Kyla Ferns said that it had no part in the sign, and that the bell-ringer was pulled away immediately when the charity learned about it. The charity's website describes marriage as heterosexual by definition, and a previously published document called on homosexuals to embrace celibacy as a way of life. The same document also states that there is no scriptural support for the mistreatment of homosexuals.
In February 2000, the Salvation Army in the United Kingdom publicly opposed (in their publication The War Cry and in a letter to a Scottish Parliament committee) the repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which prevented local authorities from "intentionally promot[ing] homosexuality". However, the organization's UK website states that it offers "unconditional assistance and support regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, respecting the identity and choices of all those referred to them....As well as having a right to be dealt with professionally, people can expect from us encouragement and a respect for their individual beliefs, ambitions and preferences".
Before the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 by the New Zealand Parliament, the Salvation Army was active throughout New Zealand gathering signatures for a petition seeking to prevent the bill's passing. In 2006, the Army released a statement regretting the ill feelings that persisted following this activity. It stated in part "We do understand though that The Salvation Army’s official opposition to the Reform Bill was deeply hurtful to many, and are distressed that ill-feeling still troubles our relationship with segments of the gay community. We regret any hurt that may remain from that turbulent time and our present hope is to rebuild bridges of understanding and dialogue between our movement and the gay community."
Despite documented events of Salvation Army's volunteers and their views, the organization has issued an LGBT Statement as a response. The statement does not address any documented news events of discrimination and claims to debunk these events as urban myth.
In November 2013 it was made known that the Salvation Army was referring LGBT individuals to one of several conversion therapy groups. As a response the Salvation Army removed such referrals from their website.
The Salvation Army's response
A positional statement on the Salvation Army UK and Ireland site states:
The Salvation Army teaches that sexual acts should take place only in a monogamous heterosexual marriage, believing that this reflects God's intentions for sexual behaviour and provides the best environment for raising children.
The positional statement is, however, intended explicitly for members of the Salvation Army and the Salvation Army mission statement as of 2013 states:
The Salvation Army stands against homophobia, which victimises people and can reinforce feelings of alienation, loneliness and despair. We want to be an inclusive church community where members of the LGBT community find welcome and the encouragement to develop their relationship with God...Our international mission statement is very clear on this point when it says we will 'meet human needs in [Jesus'] name without discrimination '. Anyone who comes through our doors will be welcomed with love and service, based on their need and our capacity to provide.
As of late 2013, activists were still calling on the Salvation Army to change its stance on LGBT issues, citing ongoing discrimination.
Canadian charity work
During the 2010 Christmas season, The Salvation Army in Calgary, Alberta, refused to accept toys based on the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises because of a perceived conflict with the organization's religious principles. One volunteer claimed that the toys were destroyed instead of being given to other agencies. The volunteer also criticized The Salvation Army for accepting violence-themed toys such as plastic rifles while not accepting Harry Potter or Twilight toys. A Salvation Army captain said that the toys were given to other organizations, not disposed of. This policy is not universal. The Wetaskiwin chapter of The Salvation Army has accepted Harry Potter toys. One captain called the series "a classic story of good winning over evil".
Also during the 2010 Christmas season, The Salvation Army in Vancouver, BC, came under fire for a program that provides goodie bags to federal inmates for Christmas by playing Santa to incarcerated criminals. This was however simply an extended outreach as part of The Salvation Army's prisoner visitation program established over a century ago.
In 2004, the Salvation Army's New York division was named in a lawsuit filed by 18 current and former employees of its social service arm, claiming that the organization asked about the religious and sexual habits of employees in programs funded by local and state government. One member claimed the organization forced them to agree "to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Proselytizing or otherwise pursuing religious motives in a government-funded program is generally considered a violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution. While the employment-discrimination portion of the lawsuit was dismissed in 2005, government agencies agreed in a 2010 settlement to set up monitoring systems to ensure that the Army did not violate church-state separation in its publicly funded projects. The organization did not dispute allegations that 9-year-olds in a city-funded foster care program were put through a "confirmation-like" ceremony, where they were given Bibles and prayed over.
Australian sex abuse cases
From the 1940s to the 1980s the Salvation Army in Australia sheltered approximately 30,000 children. In 2006 the Australian division of The Salvation Army acknowledged that sexual abuse may have occurred during this time and issued an apology. In it, the Army explicitly rejected a claim, made by a party unnamed in the apology, that there were as many as 500 potential claimants.
In 2013 it was reported that private settlements totaling A$15.5 million had been made in Victoria relating to 474 abuse cases; a Salvation Army spokesman said that "This should not have happened and this was a breach of the trust placed in us" and that they were "deeply sorry" whilst claiming that the abuse was "the result of individuals and not a culture within the organization."
On 28 January 2014, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, a royal commission of inquiry initiated in 2013 by the Australian Government and supported by all of its state governments, began an investigation into abuse cases at the Alkira Salvation Army Home for Boys at ; the Riverview Training Farm (also known as Endeavour Training Farm) at – both in Queensland; the Bexley Boys’ Home at ; and the Gill Memorial Home at – both in New South Wales. The investigation also examined The Salvation Army's processes in investigating, disciplining, removing and/or transferring anyone accused of, or found to have engaged in, child sexual abuse in these homes. On 27 March 2014, the Royal Commission began an investigation into the handling by The Salvation Army (Eastern Territory) of claims of child sexual abuse between 1993 and 2014.
The Royal Commission published a case study report on the findings and recommendations for one of the above mentioned case studies.