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social sciences

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Salvation Army  
page: 1  2  

It was not until after its work in the field to relieve suffering and deprivation during World War I (1914-1919) that the Salvation Army was accepted as a mainstream charitable organization. Since that time, the soldiers of the Salvation Army have become a familiar sight worldwide, whether working in soup kitchens and thrift shops that serve the poor or setting up field aid stations at the sites of disasters. For example, when the World Trade Center in New York City was destroyed on September 11, 2001, the Salvation Army was there, offering aid to survivors and to those working to find them.

Political Controversy

However, during the last decades of the twentieth century, the Salvation Army placed itself in the midst of controversy, taking a firmly right wing stand as part of the conservative Christian movement. It campaigned against law reform in various parts of the world, including especially Australia, and opposed the glbtq movement for equality in the United States and Great Britain.

Sponsor Message.

Since the 1970s, the Army has moved away from street evangelizing to become more of a general service provider and has received millions of dollars in government grants. In 1998, the Salvation Army turned down a $3.5 million contract with the City of San Francisco because the city requires organizations it contracts with to offer domestic partner benefits to queer workers.

As a Christian church, the Army refused to offer benefits to gay or unmarried straight workers. In October of 2001, the Western Territory of the U.S. Salvation Army did sign a government contract in which they agreed to provide domestic partner benefits, but after protests from anti-gay Christians, they rescinded the decision just a month later.

The Secret Deal with the Bush Administration

Perhaps the most shocking controversy of the early twenty-first-century Salvation Army revolved around an internal Salvation Army memo, which was made public by The Washington Post in July 2001. The memo exposed a secret deal between the Army and the office of President George W. Bush.

The Salvation Army promised support for the president's so-called "faith-based initiative," a proposed policy to grant hundreds of millions of tax dollars and billions in tax breaks to religious groups providing social services. In return, the administration would support legislation allowing the Army and other Christian groups legally to discriminate against gay men, lesbians, and other sexual minorities.

Although the White House and the Salvation Army quickly backed away from the notion of a secret quid pro quo, many people were scandalized by the cynical deal-making. In a protest led by the gay support group Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), many communities showed their disapproval by placing fake "three-dollar bills" in Salvation Army kettles during the Christmas season of 2001, stating that they refused to donate to a bigoted organization.

Meanwhile, efforts by the Bush administration to grant waivers from anti-discrimination laws to participants in its faith-based initiatives continue.

Tina Gianoulis

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social sciences >> Overview:  Domestic Partnerships

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social sciences >> Overview:  Evangelical Christians

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social sciences >> Overview:  New Right

The New Right, which emerged during the last two decades of the twentieth century, combines evangelical Christian morality with a political agenda in opposition to glbtq equality.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sodomy

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social sciences >> Overview:  Sodomy Laws and Sodomy Law Reform

Sodomy laws, which provided the legal basis for police harassment of sexual minorities, were conclusively overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 2003, after more than half a century of efforts at reform.

social sciences >> Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), an American organization of some 460 affiliated chapters and 80,000 members, works to support glbtq people and their loved ones.

social sciences >> Republican Party (United States)

The Republican Party of the United States has not been supportive of glbtq issues, despite the efforts of the Log Cabin Republicans.

social sciences >> Soulforce

Utilizing the principles of relentless nonviolent resistance, Soulforce is an activist organization founded in 1999 to combat the anti-gay rhetoric and polical actions of the religious right


Adams, Bob. "Salvation Army Fatigue." The Advocate (January 22, 2002): 26-30.

Jenniges, Amy. "Three-Dollar Bills: Should Queers Punish the Local Salvation Army for the Sins of the National Organization?" The Stranger 11.16 (January 3-January 9, 2002):

Taiz, Lillain. "Hallelujah Lasses in the Battle for Souls: Working and Middle Class Women in the Salvation Army in the United States, 1872-1896." Journal of Women's History 9.2 (Summer 1997): 84-108.

Winston, Diane. Red-Hot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of the Salvation Army. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.


    Citation Information
    Author: Gianoulis, Tina  
    Entry Title: Salvation Army  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 31, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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