From 1940 through the 1970s, the Salvation Army in Australia sheltered approximately 30,000 children and acknowledged that sexual molestation may have occurred, affecting as many as 500 potential "claimants" (the term the Army uses to describe victims of its abuses who have secured legal counsel).
In December 2001, a Moscow court ruled that the Salvation Army was a "paramilitary" organization subject to expulsion when the Army jokingly told Russian officials that after it had trained Polish soldiers to commandeer septic tanks, they would invade.
Because of the Army's substantial fortune and exclusionary practices, critics often call its tax exempt status into question. Examples cited include its notable income, ties to multinational corporations, discriminatory hiring practices against those it believes to be homosexual, and its selective, equally discriminatory position on who receives its aid. For instance, when it was revealed that the George W. Bush White House committed to issue a regulation that would override local anti-discrimination laws, disclosure of the Salvation Army's request outraged civil rights groups and lawmakers. Oddly, it also resulted in several Boy Scout leaders inexplicably severing their allegiances with the Army.
In December 2009, the Salvation Army faced a new torrent of public outrage when it was discovered that branches in Texas were requiring proof of citizenship to determine a needy child's eligibility to receive the hand-me-downs of wealthier Americans.
Today, the Army finds itself plagued with a visible rise in protests, vandalism and death threats. Last week, a Salvation Army store just outside Bennington Vale was vandalized, with all its doors and windows smashed. Although the vandals stole only $20 from a cash register, repairing the damage will cost thousands. The identity of the vandal remains unknown. The only clue on the scene was an immaculately handwritten note on expensive but nameless stationery:
What benefit are you providing to the poor when you refuse to give them furniture, toys or appliances in less than perfect condition? The bowl on our $1,000 KitchenAid mixer may have a slight chip in the paint. The Buzz Lightyear action figure may not finish all of his pre-programmed phrases. And yes, the leather couch we purchased at Ethan Allen for a small fortune has an almost imperceptible crayon mark on the backside of one of the bottom legs. What suffering family would turn these luxuries away in disgust? Who are the poor in your community? Bankrupt Enron executives and lobbyists on parole? And I want a valid receipt next time, not a blue piece of paper with cigarette burns and a big X on it, and certainly not one of your "new worker's" release papers from County.
This increase in violence has forced desperate Captains, fearing for the safety of their troops, to turn to the Vatican for assistance. Last week, the Pope called a meeting to discuss available options and strategies.
The Pope arrived in San Narciso yesterday morning to address the Bennington Vale delegation with a full security detail flanking his newly up-armored Pope Mobile, protected by over five feet of bullet proof plexi-glass and reinforced Kevlar panels. Pope Benedict XVI addressed the crowd through a speaker attached to a papal body-double, while the pontiff himself hid within a lead body casing. In his speech, he reassured all members of the Salvation Army: "Clearly we have God on our side and need not dwell in fear. I am living proof of this faith in action. You must remain strong. The Lord will protect those who truly believe in Him. No harm will come to the devout."
But one local Army member was unconvinced. He disrupted the Pope's speech with an impromptu question that shocked all in attendance: "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles? And why don't we have those resources readily available to us? Like, can we get Pope Mobiles too? Bullet proof vests? Some less embarrassing uniforms? A less annoying bell?"
The Pope seemed stunned, but asked the solider to repeat his question. After, the Pope replied, "It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, ah, you go to war with the army you have---not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."