Demilitarisation Of The Sally Army – And Picking A Pope
Well, there’s the old joke: how many Salvation Army Officers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: change, what’s
The Sally Army is known for its hesitancy of change, known for it’s comfort of staying in the old ways, the old ranks,
the old uniforms, even the old bonnets for some – but lately there has been a bit of trouble in the ranks. As a result
of this disquiet, and its dwindling numbers, The Sally Army is to change its ranking system for the first time since
1860. The Salvation Army is well known for its music and its social work. It is not so well know for its church life and
its hierarchy. Just like any other army, they have a ranking system, and have done so since the 1860’s. However that’s
about to change- slightly.
To be an officer of The Salvation Army requires adherents to abstain from drinking , smoking, or gambling. They also
have to marry another Salvation Army Officer, which often means dragging them into the Church whether they like it or
not. If a partner doesn`t want to become an officer, the wedding is off. Simple as that.
But no more. At the end of this year, rules forbidding officers to marry another officer will be abolished. But this
month, a streamlining of the ranking system comes into effect. All trainee ministers will be ordained with the rank of
(the equivalent of pastor or priest) with ranks such as Lieut-Colonel and Colonel to be done away with. It’s a fast
–track to promotion.
They will still wear their uniforms, get their accommodation paid for and abstain from drinking, smoking, gambling,
computer pornography and other lusts of the flesh. Their weekly publication will still be called the War Cry. But maybe
their membership might rise? The Sally Army works in 107 countries – up from 71 in 1969. But their membership hasn’t
increased at all – in 1947 they had 124,000 members in the UK – now they have 39,800. Where have they all gone, you ask?
To churches that allow committed members to wear normal clothes, and to drink smoke, gamble and partake in other lusts
of the flesh? Maybe this demilitarisation is a way to bring back more people to the fold? Mind, you, it’s common
knowledge that even within The Salvation Army, most people are not ranked- they are known as adherents and are permitted
to drink, smoke and wear casual clothes to church. Young people especially- they don’t like to be told what to do.
Demilitarisation won’t change that. Relaxation of the rules might.
Mind, you, you’ve got to ask what is the point of the Salvation Army – to blow trumpets, to work in food banks or with
alcoholics, or to convert people to Christianity – rules or no rules? When the Sally’s started in 1860, it was a
movement formed to save the souls of the drunks and prostitutes – now it’s a conservative church that is more known for
its social work than it’s soul-saving stuff. And good social work it is, too. Nowadays the enemy is no longer the devil,
it is religious apathy as well, and the gospel will be presented as good news rather than terrible news of hell-fire and
brimstone where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Meanwhile, in another church where the leaders where uniforms, more than 150 of the 183 Catholic Cardinals are attending
a meeting this week at the Vatican – and it is closed to everybody else. I understand it is even closed to cardinals
over the age of 80, as they cannot elect the next pope. There is no mention as to whether the 81-year- old Pope is
there, but an “acting pope” called the meeting. The “red-hatted princes” are members of the world’s most exclusive men’s
club, and are discussing things like the future of the church. Some are campaigning privately for the papacy when the
Pope dies. Most of the cardinals don’t even know each other, so voting will be based on reputation. Campaigning at such
a meeting will maybe influence other Cardinals in preparation for voting time.
Most are looking at the next pope without realising it. Liberals are battling against conservatives - and there are a
lot more conservatives now that the Pope red-hatted 40 new Cardinals this year. This was done in an attempt to ensure
that the next pope will be in the theologically conservative image of himself – no matter how different that is from
Most Cardinals are from the Third world, where Catholicism is growing fastest, and maybe we’ll have a third world pope
in a few years. Although the new cardinals will be voting, they wont have a show at the papacy - which is good, as
they’re all conservatives.
It’s all speculation, really….G’bye.