While generally thought of as a charitable organization that works to help the poor, what many Catholics forget is that the Salvation Army is itself a sect of Protestantism. We do not automatically disqualify non-Catholic charitable organizations, but we must take a closer look when donations may go toward the operational support of a sect rather than merely a charitable arm.
According to the Salvation Army’s handbook, the Salvation Army does indeed consider itself to be its own expressed version of the Church established by Our Blessed Lord:
“The corps is the Salvation Army’s local congregation. It is a visible expression of the Church. It has its own ways of worshipping, training and serving, based on the teaching of the Bible, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the nature of its mission.” (Handbook, pg. 247)
“The Salvation Army became a church with a mission.” (Handbook, pg 265)
Beginning on page 271, the Salvation Army makes its doctrine on “sacraments” quite clear. It says:
“The Salvation Army is a permanent witness to the Church as to the possibility, and racticability, of sanctification without formal sacraments. Through the experience of holiness, ‘the believer has direct communion with God through the spiritual presence of Christ in the heart … the real presence of Christ is mediated through sanctification to the believer apart from outward forms.’”
“Early in our history, The Salvation Army was led of God not to observe specific sacraments, that is baptism and the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, as prescribed rituals. In this we remind ourselves and others of the danger of trusting in the external rather than the grace it signifies or points to, and are a witness to the evidence and availability of that grace in all of human life”
In other words, the Salvation preaches a doctrine of salvation without the Sacraments, including baptism with water. For this reason alone, it is impossible for a Catholic to contribute to the Salvation Army. Any donation given to the Salvation Army contributes to the spread of its false doctrines.
But the false teachings of the Salvation Army aren’t the only problem. The Salvation Army is also involved in the promotion of contraception, and its position on abortion includes exceptions in cases of threats to the health of the mother, fatal fetal abnormalities, rape and incest. From the Salvation Army’s positional statement on abortion:
“The Salvation Army believes that termination can occur only when:
- Carrying the pregnancy further seriously threatens the life of the mother; or
- Reliable diagnostic procedures have identified a foetal abnormality considered incompatible with survival for more than a very brief post natal period.
In addition, rape and incest are brutal acts of dominance violating women physically and emotionally. This situation represents a special case for the consideration of termination as the violation may be compounded by the continuation of the pregnancy.”
On the same page, the Salvation Army encourages the ready availability of contraception, saying:
“A serious commitment to the protection and care of the unborn calls us to a commitment to the prevention of unwanted pregnancy through means such as access to reliable birth control, safety in relationships, and societal respect of women.”
In 2012, the Salvation Army made good on its commitment to the availability of contraception by helping to distribute 90,000 condoms in Kenya. In an article published by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, marking “World Condom Day” on the day before St. Valentine’s Day:
“In KENYA, AHF and partners from the Ministry of Health, the Municipal Council of Mombasa and the Salvation Army focused condom distribution and HIV testing activities on high-traffic areas of Kongowea and Emali markets in Kithituni and Mombasa. Nearly 90,000 condoms were distributed.”
In 2015, the Salvation Army’s “Integrating Family Planning Project” (SAIFaP) provided condoms, injectable contraception, contraceptive implants and contraceptive pills to about 200 “clients.” According to an article summarizing the outcomes of the project:
The project’s outreach activities have increased the use of FP in these two districts and helped combat misconceptions about FP throughout the country. Mr. Isaac Kimbugwe, the Clinical Officer of the Namusita Health Centre III, said the months of January 2015, and February 2015, had a total of 34 new acceptors, 23 revisits for Depo-Provera, and 13 clients who received long acting family planning methods. The health centre received long term family planning methods from the team for the first time during SAIFaP outreach activities in December 2014.
Overall, approximately 200 clients were reached, and 2,047 male condoms, 45 female condoms, 11 implants, 15 Depo-Provera injections and 9 combined oral contraceptive pills were provided.
In January 2017, the Salvation Army participated in an initiative to encourage faith leaders to be involved in the promotion and distribution of contraception.
At the 2 minute mark in this video, Major Angeeca Hachitapkia, Director of Women’s Ministries at the Salvation Army hospital in Zambia explained how the SA hospital presents and provides the contraceptive of choice to women who go there. At 2 minutes 53 seconds into this video, Hachitapkia said:
“Family planning is a tool for families to be healthy. Each child needs time, enough time with the parents emotionally, spiritually, economically. So the families need to plan how to care for each child, they must give them enough space.”
The bottom line for Catholics is that there is no way we can support the Salvation Army for both moral and theological reasons.