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General Booth and the Salvation Army online

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of self-management from time to time, cannot but
regret that the leaders of the Army have not made it
their business to ally themselves more with the affairs
of the nation and the civic life of the community, for
they are too astute in their instincts, to say the least,
not to discover that the organisation of the future
that is to lift the people religiously and socially is that
which springs from and is controlled by the people.

There are two elements of serious danger in the
Trust Deed of the Salvation Army. It is absolutely
without any elasticity for meeting the possibility,
or probability, of the great rising democracies such as
Germany, Canada, and Australia asking for and
demanding self-government.


What would happen to-morrow if, for example, Miss
Evangeline Booth and her Staff despatched a deputa-
tion to London to point out to the General that the
time had arrived when, in the interests of the Army
in the United States, they should have transferred
to them, as a right, the full and unfettered liberty to
manage and control their own affairs ? Such an act
could not, by any process of reasoning, be described
as a sin against the moral law or the higher law of
spiritual development. But under Salvation Army
law it would be anathematised. The General would
at once denounce the deputation as rebels. America,
as under the Trust Deed of the Army, possesses no
right, and can never be granted the right, to govern
themselves, except in the measure given to them, in
common with what is given to other countries, by
rule and regulation, and these rules and regulations
are in entire harmony with the absolutism of the office
of the General and a form of infallibility which is
described in the next chapter.

The question very properly arises, Will the next
generation of Salvationists at the Antipodes ? will
the devotees of political liberty in the United States ?
will the champions of the People's Rights that are
springing up all over Germany ? permit such a
system of religious government to last for ever ?
Here lies serious danger Number One.

The second feature of the Trust Deed which
must inspire apprehension has its foundation in the
doctrines that must, according to this Deed, be upheld
for all time, and propagated and enforced. Not a


comma in their make-up may be altered at any time,
not even by the General himself. These doctrines are
as the laws of the Medes and the Persians.

This Deed makes it binding on the General and all
his successors and all the followers of his successors
to proclaim and maintain the doctrine, for example,
of everlasting punishment for all who are exposed
to the wrath of God, and according to this Deed and
to the creed which the first General has laid down for
all time in the Deed, everyone who is not " born again "
is exposed to everlasting punishment.

It is open for any member or members of the Army
to raise an action at law for the maintenance of this
doctrine, if sufficient evidence proves that the doctrine
is not being taught in the colleges of the Salvation
Army. What would happen if the contrary came to be
preached, Heaven only knows.

The " Wee Frees " stabbed the Free Church of Scot-
land to the heart by their action, and the day may not
be so far off when Salvationists of the old school may
make it rather awkward for the Salvation Army by
demanding the enforcement of this and other doctrines
of the Army in more than one disturbing way. It may
have been legally necessary to include these doctrines
in the Deed in order to show cause why General Booth
should assume complete control of the Christian
Mission, but all the same, here lies danger Number

Other dangers lurk in the Constitution of the Salva-
tion Army which time alone will discover. For in-
stance, the power to mortgage, sell, and acquire


property for and in behalf of the Salvation Army by
the General for the time being.

In no other religious or philanthropic organisation
is one man vested with such a power. We have to go
to semi-civilised States to find a parallel for such an
autocracy, and it is very questionable whether the
position is modified in any way by the assertion of what
is at present a fact : that the General cannot sign a
mortgage or buy an inch of ground without conforming
to a system of check which the General has embodied
in the rules and regulations for the management of
Headquarters. But then the General who made these
rules can unmake them, and make others to fit in with
purposes that, while ostensibly sound, may conduce
to the attainment of sheer personal and illegal acquisi-

But whatever fears the Constitution of the Army
may inspire among its friends, it has been framed,
signed, and sealed after mature deliberation and con-
sultation with some of the most eminent counsel, in-
cluding Mr. H. H. Asquith and Mr. Haldane. Like all
other legal instruments, it will have to be tried by the
inexorable law of time, and must be left to look after
itself when the day of battle is proclaimed against
it or against some of its strange, out-of-date con-

The Deed is only one, though an important one,
of the many methods that the General has employed
in the making of his Army. Without such an instru-
ment he could not have acted as he has done, or in-
stituted the system of government that is at once the



surprise, envy, and criticism of the world. The Deed
in itself does not make an army. It is what General
Booth does with it that makes an army.

One of its immediate effects was the recognition of
the General as the dictator of the movement. He
commissioned men in his name to do certain acts that
made him at once master and monarch of a kingdom.
He carried out the Deed as it affected the collection
and expenditure of moneys, the purchase of property,
^and the creation of agencies for promoting the object
of the Deed. And, most important of all, he framed
rules and regulations that virtually determined the
conscience, conduct, and destiny of men. Has General
Booth been a wise and just steward ? How has he
used that power ? Has its application to the affairs of
the Army been attended with gain to its members and
the community in general ?

The answer to these questions, of course, is the Salva-
tion Army itself. On the whole, I think he has exer-
cised his power, if one is to accept his right and privi-
lege to assume the power, with remarkable fairness.
But it would be useless to deny, on the other hand, that
in the exercise of his power he is religiously responsible
for bringing about a great deal of social and moral
distress throughout the world. Mrs. Booth had a
favourite saying, " You cannot improve the future
without disturbing the present," an obvious com-
mentary that is only applicable to measures that are
truly beneficent in aim and character.

I will content myself by giving two illustrations of
what I mean. In making his Army, General Booth


thought it wise to accept men and women to act as
officers without sufficient training, and to bind them
to leave the ranks quietly without calling upon him
to make good any financial claim whatever, in the
event of these officers being declared, by him or his
accredited agents, to be " failures." Here are sample
clauses in an agreement which they sign :

" Do you perfectly understand that no SALARY or
allowance is guaranteed to you, and that you will have
no claim against The Salvation Army, or against any
one connected therewith, on account of salary or
allowances not received by you ?

" Do you engage not to publish any books, songs,
or music except for the benefit of The Salvation Army,
and then only with the consent of Headquarters ?

" Do you promise not to engage in any trade, pro-
fession, or other money-making occupation, except for
the benefit of The Salvation Army, and then only with
the consent of Headquarters ?

" Are you aware that Field Officers are responsible
for their own doctors' bills unless they arrange other-
wise with their D.O. ?

" Do you engage to carry out the following Regula-

" Officers are expected to refuse utterly, and to pre-
vent, if possible, even the proposal of any present or
testimonial to them."

But what do would-be officers care for a clause of
this character ? They are called by God, or think they
are ! They cannot fail the thought is God-dishonour-
ing. And so, in their zeal, they apply for the work,
and in their zeal and eagerness for officers to meet


the needs of Corps, the leaders accept them, only to
discover in time that very many are unfitted for the

The result of this method of treating men and women
may do very well in building a dam, but not in the
business of saving souls. What followed, then, to
pronounced failures ? Hundreds of them have found
themselves without money, friends, or prospects ; many
with their health shattered, and some with families de-
pendent upon them. We all know the General knows
of not one here and there, but of a vast army of men
and women who have suffered in consequence of this
one-sided agreement, which was no doubt drawn up
and applied with the best intention in the world.

Then take the making of rules for the guidance and
conduct of the soldiers and local officers. Some of the
provisions of these rules have turned men and women
who were rescued by the Army from lives of de-
bauchery into veritable blasphemers, their after-state
being very much worse than their first.

A rule exists that no local officer be he bandsman
or doorkeeper shall use tobacco. He must be a non-
smoker. Before he can be entrusted with a commis-
sion, he must forswear smoking in all its forms, the
mild cigarette as well as the bulky meerschaum.

Now when that law was first promulgated the Army
had hundreds of local officers who were in the habit of
indulging in a whiff of the enticing nicotine good
fellows, who worked hard for the Army, and were
looked upon in their towns as trophies of grace
shining lights in the cause of God. Some were con-


verts of years' standing, and had spoken before the
General and received his blessing.

Then a day came when they were told that they
must step out of the band, lay down the trombone that
they loved to see-saw through the streets, unless pre-
pared to sign a blue paper in which they pledged to
abstain from smoking !

The object was no doubt good. It was devised to
raise the tone and character of the bandsmen, and it
has, I suppose, done so, although, in correcting one
habit of self-indulgence, I am not sure that the Army
is not responsible for creating two other evils. Has
any man General Booth or the Pope of Rome
the right to socially penalise other men because they
are guilty, if guilty they be, of this indulgence ? At
any rate, the rule acted like the sword of a despot. I
knew a Corps at Spennymoor, in the North of England,
where a band had in it some splendid men who used
tobacco. They were miners, and thought nothing
about it. It was not associated in their minds with
any vice. When the Divisional Officer visited that
Corps with the object of putting the rule into force,
the men rose in rebellion.

One man tore off his red guernsey and became
vehement with passion. " Call that religion ? Where
in the Bible does it say ' Thou shalt not smoke ' ? Who
gave the General power to punish men who do not
see eye to eye with him with regard to smoking ? This
is worse than priestcraft ! " His mates applauded
him, and fifteen men that day left the Salvation Army,
some to return to the devil, some to wreak their ven-


geance upon innocent wives and little children, and the
whole of them to be branded by the Divisional despot
as backsliders, and to be told that if they ever returned
to the Army it must be via the penitent form !

On the other hand, the Salvation Army is made,
and in commercial parlance, is " a going concern." It
is led by a real General who, as the next chapter will
reveal, believes and teaches that he is a real Pope to his


General Booth's Spiritual claims Headquarters always true and
right " Fundamental Rules" Why are one class of Officers
paid and another unpaid ? Strange Alliance of Secular and
Spiritual Arms General Booth's Universal Kingdom The Army
Padlocked Children taught Heresy

THE General of the Salvation Army is, in his own sin-
cere belief, as divinely appointed to the control of the
movement that he has created as His Holiness the
Pope is to the care of the children of the Roman
Catholic Church. And as by the Constitution of the
Salvation Army its first General claims that the same
seal of Divine approval will be stamped upon all
future leaders of the organisation, it is essential to
examine with care the character and comprehensive-
ness of this spiritual claim.

The Salvation Army will have to be tested by a
new process. The ability of its commanders, and even
the benevolence of its motives and the philanthropy
of its operations, have already been well tried, and
the gain to the Army itself has compensated it for
any temporary check that it has sustained in conse-
quence of these trials. The day must come when its
ethical and ecclesiastical position will also be sifted



like wheat. Escape from such a crucible is as unlikely
as it is undesirable. The history of all organised en-
deavours to make a new religious force shows that
sooner or later such an ordeal is inevitable. Up to
the present, however, no sign of dissension on the
subject of the Army's claim to spiritual power on
the earth has arisen.

Perhaps the time has scarcely elapsed for the
vulnerable side of its Constitution to be attacked or
tried. The Army is in some respects still in the stage
of propaganda. It has all the advantages and dis-
advantages of youth. It is being led by a Napoleon.
Its people have not yet begun to think independently,
or with one eye upon to-day and the other upon to-
morrow, except as to finance. Its buildings, with
their trust settlements, are raised to last as long as
the world. The training of officers is being gradually
remodelled, so as to meet not the needs of the world,
but the internal exigencies of the movement. Why,
then, should the Salvation Army concern itself about
the trial of its Constitution and such dry subjects as
the ground of its religious pretensions ? The officers
point to the statistics. The soldiers have their meet-
ings and entertainments and musical days and nights.
The sun shines on these halcyon days. Why bother ?
Why anticipate the storms that may arise over any
discussion in the future as to the Army's theology or
the divinity of the General's commission to rule men
as a Pope ? The General, when he is not serious, is
always humorous, and his followers prefer to banish
the disagreeable and applaud the old man when he


delivers himself of this stock platform reference to
the subject :

"They say that the Salvation Army is a despotism
and a religious hierarchy, and that I am a despot, who
dwells in a lordly mansion, eating his food out of golden
vessels and riding about in an expensive motor-car.
(Laughter and applause.) And they call me a Pope.
(Laughter.) And so I am ! The word Pope means
papa (laughter) and I am your Papa ! " (Cheers.)

But seriously what does that imply ?

In the year 1905 the Army held the biggest Inter-
national Congress in its history in London. In a
temporary mammoth wooden structure erected in the
Strand, it conducted meetings attended by delegates
from every country where the Army is at work. The
Press of the Empire chronicled the proceedings, and
for three weeks the streets of London were enlivened
by the presence of dusky sons and daughters of the
Near and Far East, dressed in the dazzling attire of
national and primitive fashions. The Army was then
at the zenith of its popularity ; and from the King
on the throne to the street shoeblack, the panorama
of this Congress formed a popular attraction.

The real business of the Congress, however, was
transacted behind the scenes. Private councils were
held at which only officers were present, and without
previous conference with subordinate leaders or im-
partial enquiry, or in fact any serious discussion, the
General covered with the glory of the triumph of the
assembly, and fresh from his audience with King
Edward delivered a series of momentous addresses.


They have since been revised and passed as the Nicene
Creed of the Salvation Army. They bear the im-
primatur of the General in Council, and leave no
manner of doubt as to the sacerdotal claim of the
General and the Army to be considered and accepted
as viceregents of the Most High God. I question if
any such deliverance was ever uttered, except by men
of the type of John Alexander Dowie, the originator
of the Zion movement, with its Mecca at Chicago.
But General Booth is no impostor, and his followers,
though largely blind worshippers of their Moses, are
disposed to accept his word as the Word of God Him-
self. The document is accordingly of the first im-
portance. The majority even of his staff officers are
far too busy to ponder over the significance of the
printed declarations, to which they subscribed a special
assent at the Congress of 1906. For example, if one
were to urge, as an objection to alliance with the Army,
that the General claims for himself and his Inter-
national Headquarters the principle of infallibility, he
would be reminded that the General has declared again
and again that he is not infallible. In theory and
practice, however, the Army maintains that claim.

Dealing with the " Necessity for Government," the
leader of the Salvation Army made this deliberate and
astounding statement at the Congress named :

" So far as my knowledge extends, there is no funda-
mental rule in force amongst us which, measured by
the everlasting principles of truth and righteousness,
can be truthfully described as unjust, or as anything
approaching it."


Did ever man claim for a creation of his own such
a reputation ? The affirmation on the very face of it
presupposes the operation in the mind of the leader of
the principle of verbal inspiration. Of course, there
is a vagueness about the term " fundamental rule,"
and without a specific illustration of what the General
means by that phrase, I may be guilty of passing an
unfair comment upon the character that he ascribes

^ to the myriad rules that he has framed for the guidance
of his soldiers and officers. But, a priori, the vital
principle of his right to reduce to rule and regulation
the laws of truth and righteousness, and to enforce these

1 rules as if they were part and parcel of the " ever-
lasting principles of truth and righteousness," was not

discussed by the General at the Congress. He claims,
by Divine right, to be General of the Salvation Army ;
but does this claim carry with it the obligation to make
laws for men, and to impose penalties if these same
man-made rules are adjudged to have been broken ?
That is an important issue that was conveniently ig-
nored. The General compares his organisation to an
army, and he gives it the title of an army. He borrows
illustrations from the organisation essential to the
construction of a railway, the navigation of a ship,
and the prosecution of a huge business, so as to en-
force the wisdom and Tightness of making laws for
deciding the conduct and character of men and women
engaged in his service for God and man !

He enters the realm of conscience with the " Thou
shalt " and " Thou shalt not " of his generalship. His
code of rules forms a Working Bible to the Army, and


the will of subordinate leaders constitutes a veto
upon the moral standing of the officers in directing

To violate a rule whether administrative or funda-

- mental is to disobey the Army, and to disobey the
Army is to disobey God.

In language as clear as dare be put into cold type,
this claim, as I shall show presently, is enjoined
and applied every day of the week ; and yet we are
asked to believe that the fundamental rules of the
Army are in harmony, one and all, with the " ever-
lasting principles of truth and righteousness." Let
us see if this can really be upheld.

It is " a fundamental rule," for example, that no
officer in the Salvation Army shall have a guaranteed
salary. How is that rule carried out ? It is no ex-
aggeration to say that it is more honoured in the
breach than otherwise. Staff officers are guaranteed
their salaries. No officer at International Headquarters

- ever went without his salary, and all the salaries are
fixed according to rank and position, with an auto-
matic system for increasing the scale according to the
report of their departmental officers and the officers'
length of service.

On the other hand, it will come in the nature of
painful surprise to those who do not know that no
such guarantee and sliding scale have even been dreamt
of for another class of officers the field officers. In
the field, where the real work of the Army is carried on,
hundreds of officers work without any salary at all !
They do not know at the end of the week whether they


will have five shillings or twenty shillings to draw, and
these officers are the elite of the movement.

If an officer is appointed to a Corps that happens
to be in debt because it is unable to meet the rent
(largely determined by the amount of the mortgage
resting upon the hall), it is "a fundamental rule "
that, if he cannot raise the rent, he must suffer by
sacrificing part of his salary ! If he is a married man,
and has a family to clothe and maintain, no difference
and no allowance is made. An Ensign at the Inter-
national Headquarters may be drawing two pounds
per week, but an Adjutant on the field who has done
twice the length of service, and is undergoing hard-
ships that the Headquarters Ensign little dreams of,
may face a trying week-end with only fifteen shillings.
This anomaly can on no principle of fair play not
to mention the everlasting principles of truth and
righteousness be sustained for a moment, and yet
it has been in force for over thirty years !

International Headquarters, to my personal know-
ledge, has lost some of its best officers by persisting
in retaining this disparity. How can the General
claim then " that there is no ' fundamental rule ' in
force amongst us which, measured by the everlasting
principles of truth and righteousness, can be truth-
fully described as unjust or as anything approaching
it ? " I have no hesitation in declaring that this
" fundamental rule " is more than unjust : it is

Let us take the General's comparison of the railway.
The staff, we will suppose, are all employed in a central


establishment in Queen Victoria Street. Their salaries
are regularly paid. But what would happen, as the
returns came in week by week tabulating the number
of passengers carried by the system and the tonnage
of the freight if the directors settled that the guards,
porters, ticket - clerks, ticket - collectors, inspectors,
stokers, and engine-drivers should only be paid full
salary if the receipts warranted it ? What would be
the sequel to such a decision, if the company deter-
mined not only to pay their staff according to scale
(independently of whether the receipts were up or
down), but to actually raise their salaries from time
to time ? We can imagine that something more
serious than a strike would be resorted to, to bring
the tyranny of the directors to a final and ignomini-
ous end.

This comparison is not one whit overdrawn. The
railway company is the Salvation Army ; the direc-
tors are composed of the Executive Staff of Head-
quarters ; their subordinate staff are their assistants ;
the guards, collectors, etc., are the field officers, the men
and women who literally supply the hard cash by
which Headquarters pays the salaries of the Com-
missioners and their staff, and who are, in point of
ability and devotion to the highest interests of the
Army, incomparably superior to the staff. And yet this
rule, this " fundamental rule," is in harmony with
" the principles of everlasting truth and righteous-
ness " !

I could cite a score of other illustrations of

Online LibraryA M NicolGeneral Booth and the Salvation Army → online text (page 8 of 25)