April 9, 2015
The Salvation Army is one of the world’s largest global organizations that has ethical interactions in over 130 countries worldwide. As a world leader in spiritual and social needs of all people, they have faced many ethical challenges as they have embarked new territories and countries. By far, majority of the ethical issues that have risen come from the deeply rooted, historical beliefs of the leaders throughout the organization.
Salvation Army Cross-Culture
It has been said by many that there are two things you do not talk about in business: politics and religion. Somehow the Salvation Army has been able to not only survive, but thrive to the tune of over $9billion dollars every year, while making religion and politics two of its main topics. The many ethical and political problems that the Salvation Army has faced could have been avoided if their leadership would not have taken such forceful, legalistic and dogmatic approaches to their beliefs.
While maintaining a strong and ethical organization is key, the Salvation Army has experienced many issues in various countries, to include its own. A great deal of this is due to the fact that they would forcefully firehose the message of Jesus, love and grace. The two are contradictive and counterproductive to each other.
William Booth, while a Methodist minister, had found unbiblical truths and doctrines that he believed were not in line with the Bible. He and his wife, Catherine decided to start their own Christian mission in their hometown of East London in 1865 and leave the Methodist church.
The name ‘Salvation Army’ was not planned and came about from a communication error by William to his secretary. William’s son, Bramwell Booth, was there to hear the letter being read out loud, which stated, “We are a volunteer army.” Bramwell responded, “Volunteer! I’m no volunteer, I’m a regular!” The secretary was instructed to cross out “volunteer” and write the word “salvation”, which stuck and is still the name today.
The Salvation Army has faced some seriously different perspectives across the various cultures that they have submerged themselves into. For example, at the very beginning of the Army’s beginnings the officers and volunteers were hit with some deadly opposition.
It is argued that this type of opposition could have been limited, or curtailed, if the Salvation Army members could have walked in more humility and love. Instead, they tried to force their agenda, to the extent of trying to close down any type of establishment that promoted alcoholism, pornagraphy, prostitution, gambling, smoking, etc., and at all costs.
This brought the Salvation Army much ethical dilemma. Owners of these types of “unethical” establishments formed an alliance called the “Skeleton Army”, which tried to bring major disruption to the Salvation Army, through fear tactics and even murder. The Salvation Army was relentless in their faith and refused to be shaken.
The Salvation Army had learned their lesson for at least a few years and realized they needed to walk in more wisdom. When the Army decided to expand into America in 1880, they were hit with a great amount of resistance again, but this was a very different kind of opposition. This time, so called Christians were the problem.
Up until the entry of the Salvation Army on American soil, America was a country of very religious proportions. At that time, majority of Americans were Protestant, Catholic, Baptist, or Methodist. The major issue with that is, the Salvation Army did not believe in core fundamental truths like, water baptism, communion, and other sacraments.
These differences caused a huge uproar and resistance against all things Salvation Army in America. This was a huge ethical/cultural dilemma for the Army.