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:
- a Salvation Army church (often in a converted school or other repurposed building)
- "full members" of the church who have signed their Articles of War
, indicating their willingness to serve the Salvation Army and abstain from drugs
, 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"
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
(the highest rank achieved just by years of service), Lt. Col.
. The rank of "Brigadier
" has been retired, as in many places the only Brigadier known was a Brigadier General
- 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.