The Salvation Army is perhaps America’s most iconic Christmas-season assistance organization. Online, corporate, and kettle donations totaled nearly $170 million in 2017. Online donations were up from 2016’s, which themselves received a boost from Dallas Cowboys Ezekiel Elliot’s hop into an over-sized Salvation Army kettle after scoring a touchdown in December of that year.
Donations are what The Salvation Army is known for. Here are four things you may not know about them:
1. The Salvation Army is an evangelical religious denomination
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
Their biblical principles are explained in more detail here.
2. The Salvation Army’s record on LGBT issues is mixed
The group signed a letter in 2012 with religious leaders to oppose a redefinition of marriage because of the threat to religious liberty which such a redefinition would create. From the letter, it is clear that The Salvation Army held a traditional view on marriage:
San Francisco dropped its $3.5 million in social service contracts with the Salvation Army because it refused to recognize same-sex “domestic partnerships” in its employee benefits policies.
In 2014, the group issued a memo which required celibacy from same-sex attracted single officers. After a backlash from LGBT groups, a spokesperson clarified that the memo was meant to provide clarity on celibacy which the spokesperson said is required of all single officers in the organization.
To date, The Salvation Army still considers marriage to be between a man and a woman, per the Bible. However, they decline “discrimination” against anyone for any reason, and have opened a shelter which is specifically designed to assist gender-confused persons. Their non-discrimination policy also includes hiring people regardless of views on marriage, and they “provide the same benefits to opposite-sex and same-sex couples.”
A spokesperson’s interview with LGBT publication The Advocate last year likewise played down the organization’s views on marriage, focusing on its message of serving without discrimination.
3. The Salvation Army philosophically opposes abortion
What has been controversial for the domestic organization is that its international arm supports the practice in rare cases.
The Salvation Army believes all people are created in the image of God and therefore have unique and intrinsic value. Human life is sacred and all people should be treated with dignity and respect. The Salvation Army accepts the moment of fertilisation as the start of human life. We believe that society has a responsibility to care for others, and especially to protect and promote the welfare of vulnerable people, including unborn children.
Additionally, the position paper declares that “life is a gift from God” and that “we are answerable to God for the taking of life.” However:
The Salvation Army believes that termination can occur only when
- Carrying the pregnancy further seriously threatens the life of the mother; or
- Reliable diagnostic procedures have identified a foetal abnormality considered incompatible with survival for more than a very brief post natal period.
In addition, rape and incest are brutal acts of dominance violating women physically and emotionally. This situation represents a special case for the consideration of termination as the violation may be compounded by the continuation of the pregnancy.
The Salvation Army also believes that “reliable birth control” is part of “a commitment to the prevention of unwanted pregnancy…”
4. Like Catholic Charities and pro-life pregnancy resource centers, The Salvation Army is a response to abortion activists’ claim that opponents of abortion don’t support life outside the womb
While the organization’s views are not fully compatible with the Catholic Church’s scientifically and theologically precise view on what it means to be pro-life, they are clearly philosophically opposed to abortion and provide tremendous assistance to the poor, the downtrodden, and the disenfranchised.