The best place, by far, to get your clothes dry cleaned. It's cheap, and may affect your alignment. Simply drop off the clothes you want to be cleaned, and they'll think you're donating them. They dry clean them and then put them up for sale. So just come back the next day, buy your clothes back, and they'll be dry cleaned. You will have saved a lot of cash, considering it's almost free.

Proceed with caution. This is evil, but perhaps angelic by my standards.
The Salvation Army - Church, Charity and Social Services

The Salvation Army was founded in London, England by William Booth, who at that time was a Methodist Minister. Then in 1865 he started the movement which was originally named the Christian Mission. The name was later changed to The Salvation Army in 1878 to match it recently adopted quasi-military style and outlook.

The Salvation Army's main converts were at first alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes and other "undesirables" of society which the church at that time refused to have anything to do with. The Salvation Army grew rapidly and as it did it also created friction among certain people within the society at that time. These people hired thugs to disrupt, any way they could, Salvation army meetings and gatherings. These people grouped under the name of the Skeleton Army. Usual tactics used by this army were throwing rocks, rats, tar and physically assaulting members of The Salvation Army at these meetings.

At the turn of the 21st Century the Salvation army had grown to operate in over 100 countries world wide. This was through its focus on the needs of humankind. The phrase of "Heart to God and Hand to Man" was its focus and its driving goal which made The Salvation Army, in the United Kingdom especially, the largest provider of social welfare (eventide homes, homeless hostels, rehab centres) second only to the government.

One of the other common beliefs of the Salvation Army is that its members refrain from the drinking alcohol, smoking, taking illicit (illegal) drugs and gambling. These beliefs came from its founding on the streets on Victorian England.

The Salvation Army, is it has always been, a church "with its sleeves rolled up" and has always had a history of being involved in social action. It has over the world over (statistics taken from Salvation Army publications):

  • Has more than 800 hostel catering for nearly 40,000 people throughout the year.
  • Over 300 retraining centres.
  • More than 2,000 food distribution centres, with additional emergency feeding programmes set up when and where needed.
  • More than 700 eventide and elderly people homes.
  • Nearly 300 hospitals and clinics.
  • 202 children's homes
  • 481 day nurseries and crèches
  • 5 holiday homes
  • 66 fresh-air camps
  • 1,505 primary and secondary schools
  • 32 domestic science and trade schools.
  • 370 occupational and industrial centres for retraining and work experience
  • Over 130 drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes
  • 7 institutes provide a home and training for the blind
  • Over 30 purpose-built homes for the physically handicapped
  • Over 400 canteens, mobile units and hostels cater for the needs of people who serve in the armed forces.
  • More than 10,000 missing relatives were traced through The Salvation Army's Missing Person's services
  • Nearly 500,000 prisoners were visited and given help on discharge.
  • Over 30 homes accommodate almost 900 young offenders.
  • The Salvation Army's night patrols, rescue and anti-suicide missions helped around about 200,000 people last year alone.
  • Nearly 300,000 people received counselling from Salvation Army personnel last year.
  • 75 residences are provided for students and business people who need accommodation.

The Salvation Army, as part of its beliefs uphold the following 11 doctrines:

  • We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God; and that they only 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 Ghost - 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 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 believes has 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 blame less unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ' (1 Thessalonians5: 23).
  • We believe in the immortality of the soul; in the resurrection of the body; in the general judgement at the end of the world; in the eternal happiness of the righteous; and in the endless punishment of the wicked.

The Salvation Army is, and has always been, first and foremost, a Christian Church but this has been lost over the years where it is now only seen to be a thrift shop or a social services charity. This has caused a major rethink within the Salvation Army who are once again placing the Salvation Army on the map of the Christian Church.

Please note that information on this entry was taken from various Salvation Army publications and press releases.

The Salvation Army is very notable for its "pseudo-military" format, the concept of "the war against sin" taken to an unusually high degree. (People unaware of this might be more familiar with "The Save-A-Soul Mission from the musical Guys and Dolls, which is modeled on the group.)

Besides the name of the organization itself, this is perhaps most observable in the uniforms its clergy and some members wear; in the United States, these outfits include navy blue tunics (with pants for men, skirts for women) and often a hat: a "policeman's cap" for men, and a bowler for women. Also, epaulets will be worn. For laity, these will be blue, for clergy they will be red, with different symbols for different "ranks".

The military format also shows up in the terminology:
corps - a Salvation Army church (often in a converted school or other repurposed building)
soldiers - "full members" of the church who have signed their Articles of War, indicating their willingness to serve the Salvation Army and abstain from drugs, drink, pornography, etc. (The Salvation Army is a religion of temperance.) People who choose the Salvation Army as their place of worship but not to become full members are "Adherents"
The General is the leader of the Salvation Army. There is only one General at a time. Actually, there are ranks for all the clergy of the army: Cadet, Lieutenant, Captain, Major (the highest rank achieved just by years of service), Lt. Col., Colonel. The rank of "Brigadier" has been retired, as in many places the only Brigadier known was a Brigadier General.
Cartridge - the envelope provided to regular members for their weekly contribution. (The metaphor is that it holds the ammunition.)

Other lesser known Salvation Army facts:
  • The Salvation Army ordains both Men and Women. In fact, one member of a married couple cannot be ordained by him or herself; both must become officers. This reflects a belief that running a corps is an all-consuming job.
  • The "Army" has a rich musical tradition. The band is an important (and portable, useful for the open-air street preaching the Army used to do even more of) part of that. Bands are based on the British Brass Band tradition, where everyone's music is written in treble clef. The choirs are called Songsters. They also have a tradition of timbrel brigades, tambourine players, most often women, who do synchronized routines.
  • The Salvation Army, getting its roots in the slums of London, believes in temperance; its soldiers agree to abstain from Drink, Drugs, Pornography, and Gambling.
  • The Salvation Army's doctrine is known as "Salvationism" and is very similar to the beliefs of the Methodists.
  • In the USA, The Salvation Army is known foremost for its thriftshops, secondly for its Red Kettles and Bell-ringers charity campaign around Christmastime, as a place to go when you're down on your luck, and lastly as a church. This is not the case in all countries, where the street preaching comes to the fore.
  • There is actually a Salvation Army song that goes "Joy, Joy, Joy...there is Joy in The Salvation Army" followed by a big bumBumBumBUM low brass line. It is traditional for Salvation Army youth to go "try and find it" to this line. Mild Merriment generally results, which makes it kind of a self-nullifying prophecy of sorts.
  • The Salvation Army has one of the lowest overheads of charities in the United States, offering one of the largest "bang for the buck"s for each dollar given.
  • During WWI, "doughnut girls" were a well-known part of the war effort, offering doughnuts and other aid and comforts to the soldiers near the frontline. Because of these women and similar efforts during WWII, many Veterans think highly of the organization.
  • The flag of The Salvation Army is Red (the blood of Jesus Christ) with a Blue border (the purity of God the Father) and a yellow star (the fire of the Holy Spirit). The star is inscribed with "Blood & Fire", the motto of The Salvation Army.
  • Salvationists don't practice baptism for children or adults. Children are "dedicated" to God in a ceremony, and adults are "Sworn-In".
  • The "The" in "The Salvation Army" is part of the group's name, and is thus most properly capitalized.

I have never met a member of The Salvation Army. I have shopped at their thrift stores, I have seen their bell ringers around Christmas Time, but I have never, in a social setting, met someone who was a member, or even an ex-member. I find this somewhat unusual.

"But..." I can hear someone typing right now "as a coastal elite, maybe you just don't get out enough, and don't meet enough salt of the earth folks". While there might be something geographical in my not having encountered any members (or soldiers of the Salvation Army, it isn't because I am not familiar with members of lots of religion. The Western United States is the land of Mormons, and if you ever ended up going to a basement punk show in a Portland house party, back when that was still a possibility, you could probably rely on the bass player, over a Pabst, telling you how they started out playing violin in the school band back in Pocatello and then questioning Mormonism when they realized half the kids in the band were LGBTQ. Jehovah's Witnesses? Probably my first introduction to the idea of religious differences was in first or second grade, when a group of children would leave the room when we had our hour-long elementary school halloween or Valentine's Day parties. I remember being a child and my father telling me that his friend, a Jehovah's Witness, couldn't "talk to his kids the way I talk to you, not about anything important". And of course, I meet Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on my door. Those are two of the more idiosyncratic religious groups I grew up with. As for the old stand-bys, people who were raised Catholic, and now talk about it as either a source of lingering guilt, or of a few fun additional holidays; or of the Evangelical Christans who became wiccan after discovering weed and anime, are so standard that they don't have to be mentioned.

That last paragraph did not mention the Salvation Army, but that is the point: they are conspicuous by their absence, from the cultural milieu I live in. The beliefs and lifestyles of other religious groups are part of our culture, in the form of jocular taunts, grudging respect, or heartfelt sympathy. But I know nothing about what it is like to be in The Salvation Army, for good or for bad. This is a weird blind spot for me. Why has the Salvation Army not produced any robotically hygienic Presidential candidates? Why have they not produced any entertainers who convert and then dramatically refuse to sing the racy songs they built their fame on? Why is a church and organization that has such a presence in our culture so personally absent and bereft of a personal narrative?

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