The Salvation Army and Anne Lown
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Thu May 18, 2006 at 11:41:23 AM EST
I got my copy of Michelle Goldberg's Kingdom Coming yesterday and started reading this superb book last night.

One story that Michelle told stopped me in my tracks.  The story disturbed me so much that I had to put the book down and walk around the block to lower my blood pressure.  It was the story about the "Christianization" of the social services division of the Salvation Army.

I have a vague recollection of reading newspaper articles about the Salvation Army receiving federal money while purging itself of homosexuals and non-Christians, but Michelle's account of her interview of Anne Lown, daughter of the nobel prize winning physician and peace activist Dr. Bernard Lown, personalized the issue and clarified the values that are at stake.

Here's a quote  from Kingdom Coming:

    Lown, who had been an employee at the Salvation Army for twenty-four years and oversaw 800 workers, said religion had never had anything to do with her job.  As long as she'd been there, the New York social services division had been independent from the evangelical side of the organization.  Her office ran more public programs than any Salvation Army division in the United States, most of them for children.  Almost all of the money came from the state and local government, and Lown assumed that it would be illegal to infuse taxpayer-funded services with Christianity.  Her division had gay, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu employees, reflecting the city it served. (p. 130)

Before this administration took office, it was "illegal to infuse taxpayer-funded services with Christianity."  When those responsible for enforcing the law and upholding the constitution refuse to do so and actively work to undermine it, anything is permitted.

Apparently, the Salvation Army decided to take advantage of this administration's lax enforcement of the first amendment.  Colonel Paul Kelly was brought in to "heighten the agency's evangelical aspect."  Here's another quote:

    According to the complaint filed by the NYCLU, Kelly asked the human resources director at the Salvation Army headquarters, Maureen Schmidt, whether one of the human resource staffers at the social services division, Margaret Geissman, was Jewish, because she had a "Jewish sounding name."
     Schmidt told him she was not.  Geissman, who described herself to me as a conservative Catholic, told me that Schmidt then started asking her to point out gay and non-Christian employees at the division.  She refused to answer, but day after day Schmidt kept pushing.  "She said Kelly wanted to know and that eventually they were going to find out about everyone," Geissman told me.  "She said the new vision for the Salvation Army was to have Christians and Salvationists and not to have homosexuals." (p. 131)

Anyone who has studied the holocaust knows the resonances of  these conversations.

A lot of people think it's no big deal for the government to fund discriminatory social service agencies.

I think it is the proverbial camel's nose in the tent.  Blur the line between church and state and there won't be any line.

by Mainstream Baptist on Thu May 18, 2006 at 11:45:36 AM EST

It's highly significant. Thanks for highlighting it.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu May 18, 2006 at 11:54:13 AM EST

I have gotten questions from many people asking why I included the Salvation Army logo on the marching band drum in my painting (replacing the Marine Corps logo from the "President's Own" Marine Corp band). Take a moment to read the Salvation Army's Website, which includes statements on Marriage, Divorce, Cloning and all the major Religious Right's hotbutton moral issues (they would get a 100% form the Christian Coalition on these topics). Their military terminology (members are referred to as "soldiers", and their leaders all have military-style ranks with uniforms) takes the "Christian Soldier" metaphor to it's logical and ridiculous conclusion. It's a wonder they have been so successful in promoting a compassionate image, but then there are no limits to the success of PR and propaganda in America, and the Salvation Army is a shining example of SPIN.

One topic I find so interesting as one of the most glaring contradictions of the New Testament (amongst so many) is the portrayal a compassionate pacifist Jesus in the Gospels and a heartless death-wielding Jesus in Revelations. That very different writers with opposing agendas (political and theological) wrote these sections seems obvious; almost 2000 years of Biblical scholarship exists simply to explain (away) this contradiction. Militant Christians have only the story of Jesus' hissyfit at the temple to illustrate that the Gospels supported the notion that he could get angry, but an avenging Jesus dropping from the sky with a sword in his hand and flames shooting from his mouth to defeat the Anti-Christ and cast the Jesus-hating masses into Hell just encourages all kinds of the wrong people...

It also reminds me of the Bush Administration's apparent fondness for anything military. As with the recent Immigration/Border debate, they seem to honestly believe that the ONLY way to accomplish ANYTHING of value is through the use of the military (see the successes Iraq & Katrina). Is it because they are all authoritarian-types, or Christian militants, or both? Wasn't it Twain that said that if you only have hammers, then every problem looks like nails (or maybe Chaney...)? Replace the hammer with a sword and the Salvation Army's bell ringers takes on a whole different feel.

by joelp on Thu May 18, 2006 at 05:09:20 PM EST

Salvation Army, "Battle Cry", Spiritual warfare... I feel an article about the militarization of right-wing Christianity starting to coalesce in my mind...

I'm a military veteran. I know how the military works. And the fantasy military stuff coughed up by the extremists really bothers me in a basic way. Only people who haven't suffered the real privations of being in the service would glorify it so. Those of us who have been there and done that know the score, and can spot a 'chickenhawk' a mile away. We can also sniff out a BSer from a long ways away.

by Lorie Johnson on Thu May 18, 2006 at 08:00:25 PM EST

The Salvation Army actually started out as a Calvinist church and, like many other groups, has gone increasingly dominionist; of note, it can be argued that it was the first church to explicitly use "spiritual warfare" imagery (thus setting a bad example for "dominion theology" promoters years later).

As I noted from The Big List of Good and Bad NOLA Charities:

Sadly, new information (listed below) has forced me to list this group as dominionist; see below. Supportive of dominionist groups like "Operation Blessing" and also having restrictions on funding; has used homeless groups to fight initiatives for Fairness Ordinances and has actually threatened to close soup kitchens and homeless shelters in areas whose Fairness Ordinances require offering benefits to partners of gay/les/bi/trans individuals (365Gayhas info); dominionist groups have supported them in this (see Concerned Women for America press release) and many gay/les/bi/trans groups are boycotting as a result; this has included lobbying of known dominionists in the government by the Salvation Army (see Working for Change article). Has fired people who are openly pagan from Salvation Army aid centers (see Holy Smoke article). Some people have reported that the Salvation Army (as church; yes, it is actually a Calvinist church with a pseudo-militia structure) may be a coercive religious group: see report from walkaway). Is a member of AERDO, which is an "umbrella group" of dominionist-friendly charities.

What is AERDO, you might ask?  Well, I've an entry on them in the Big List too:

An umbrella group for multiple dominionist charity groups; almost all the dominionist groups listed above are in their members list (per AERDO member listing) including MAP International and (sadly) World Vision and Salvation Army as well. Many of the links are not even to charities but explicitly dominionist groups (including "Harvest Foundation", a group dedicated to exporting dominionism, as well as groups practicing "creation care" aka dominionist "wise-use". One of the major speakers for AERDO is Chip Ingram, a "Christian counselor" who is blatantly dominionist (see pro-dominionist page for info) and has, among other things, promoted the "women should be subservient to their husband as their husband is to God" sort of deal up to and including telling women they should not pay bills. AERDO affiliates are required to sign a statement of faith that they operate under the statement of faith of the National Association of Evangelicals (presently a dominionist organisation itself, whose president is also the lead pastor of "New Life Ministries", a Colorado Springs megachurch at the heart of much of the dominionist movement in the US); AERDO's statement is at AERDO's website and NAE's statement of faith at NAE's website.

Let's take a look at AERDO's member list.  Dominionist charities include Convoy of Hope (a known Assemblies of God frontgroup that does not openly advertise its links to the Assemblies), MAP International (a group set up as a "Christian Alternative" to Doctors Without Borders who requires conversion before they will operate on people), Mercy Ships (a group that is a de facto division of the extremely coercive Youth With A Mission, which is itself an Assemblies frontgroup by admission of the Assemblies' home office, and in fact admits it on their website if you dig deep enough; Mercy Ships has been linked to similar spiritually abusive tactics as its parent org YWAM (widely regarded as quite possibly one of the most abusive Assemblies frontgroups), Operation Blessing (a "charity" run by Pat Robertson which has been used as a smuggling front for "blood diamonds"), Northwest Medical Teams International (closely connected to both the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International and the Salvation Army and a major source for networking of dominionists), the Salvation Army itself, and Shepherd's Purse (a group operated by Frank Graham which requires not only signing a statement of faith but testimonials from ministers for employees, and which has targeted children of Katrina refugees for "stealth evangelism").  In fact, quite a few of the people on the "Bad Guys" section, and practically none on the "Good Guys" section, are listed.

And as for that mandatory statements of faith:

(from AERDO Membership Application)


Each member organization and associate member must subscribe to AERDO's statement of faith:

  1. We believe the Bible to be inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
  2. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  3. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
  4. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful man, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
  5. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
  6. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
  7. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We agree with and desire to support the AERDO Vision and Mission Statement to:
  • Base our initiatives on biblical principles
  • Encourage and effectively support the Church (local and universal) in holistic ministry among the poor and needy.
  • Promote excellence in our own agency and other member agencies in professional practice.
  • Foster networking, collaboration and information exchange between our agency and other member agencies (willing to give more than we receive)

The Principles of Practice from their other website (apparently down as of the date of writing) is even more blatant:
Guidelines for the Development of Agency Standards(1)

07 November 90

This document represents the efforts of members of the Association of Relief and Development Organizations to state what they Believe to be Biblically sound,(2) professionally effective principles of practice.

. . .

(1) Several of these statements originated with other organizations. Some statements appear as originally published, others have been reworded. Among the sources are: National Charities Information Bureau; World Vision International; Tear Fund; Canadian Council of Christian Charities.

(2) AERDO members accept the National Association of Evangelicals' statement of faith, thus affirming a historic Christian faith.

(emphasis and numbering mine; asterisks in original)

And what is the NAE's statement of faith?

(from NAE website)

Statement of Faith

  • We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.

  • We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  • We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.

  • We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.

  • We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.

  • We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.

  • We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, the statements of faith are identical.  (Also keep in mind that the NAE has been essentially hijacked by dominionists; the head of the NAE is Ted Haggard, leader of the neopentecostal New Life Church which is a major practitioner of dominion theology and "spiritual warfare" theology.

by dogemperor on Thu May 18, 2006 at 08:33:21 PM EST

When I see the 'bible first' mission/faith statements, it tells me a lot- that the people presenting it are 'bibleolators',  (who freely cherrypick Scripture to make it fit their particular agenda) and that adhering to the actual teachings of Christ are not high on their list of priorities.

These mission/faith statements are what I call 'flipped' Lausanne Covenant statements. Why 'flipped'? Because the original Lausanne Covenant, which was created in 1974 during a world evangelicalization conference, lists the belief in God first, and the Bible  second. Christ is third. But many of these organizations have 'flipped' statements 1 and 2, putting the Bible first, God second, and Jesus still trailing in third.

Why they call themselves "Christians" - when Christ is #3 in their statement of faith- puzzles me.

by Lorie Johnson on Fri May 19, 2006 at 09:38:13 AM EST

Also, those statements of belief are remarkably close those espoused by the "renewal groups" working to attack the mainline Protestant denominations.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri May 19, 2006 at 12:24:05 PM EST

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