The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian denomination and an international charity which has become famous around the world for its work in the social services. This Christian denomination is run much like a military, with individuals being referred to as “soldiers” and ranking officials in the organization being given military titles like “General.” This organization is intended to provide social services to the needy while also practicing Christian evangelism, encouraging people to deepen their bonds with Christ and promoting a life of Christian service among its adherents.
This organization was founded in 1865 by William Booth in London, England. His decision to focus on people like prostitutes, child laborers, and thieves allowed the Salvation Army to flourish without directly competing with other evangelical Christian sects, and his extremely efficient, military-like organization quickly made the organization a major charity.
Funds for the works of the Salvation Army are obtained through charitable donations, sales at the organization's famous thrift stores, and grants from governments and other charity organizations. The organization regularly holds charity drives, especially during the winter holidays, when its employees dress up as Santa Claus and stand in department store parking lots asking for offerings.
Social services are provided by this charity to a wide variety of needy individuals, including elderly people, individuals struggling with substance abuse, and the homeless. The organization has soup kitchens, residential housing facilities, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers to provide services, and it is also involved in disaster relief around the world. Salvation Army bands march in parades all over the world to raise awareness about the organization, and people in almost every country benefit from this organization.
Soldiers in the Salvation Army commit to refrain from consuming alcohol, tobacco, and illegal substances. They are expected to contribute directly to the works of the Church, and can participate in a wide variety of ways, from leading Christian youth groups to practicing in Salvation Army hospitals. Members of the general public are always welcome at services, and the organization provides charity to all people in need, regardless of race, creed, gender, or ethnic origin.
The charity has sometimes attracted controversy. In the 1800s, it was opposed by many brewers and pubs because sellers and manufacturers of alcohol thought that the Salvation Army was bad for business. The Salvation Army was also involved in strike-busting activities, which attracted the ire of labor organizations, and it continues to draw attention due to its clout and method of organization. At one point, the Russian government even accused the it of being a “paramilitary organization.”