The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas, et Prevalebit. MONDAY, DECEMBER 26, 1881. The Salvation Army.
Within the last few years an organisation, which is now stated to number some 12,000 officers, has a fund of nearly 1,9,000, and reckons its income at something like L 60,000, has sprung up in the Old Country, and is likely to cause a great deal of annoyance, if not disgust,, at the follies enacted at many of its proceedings. Indeed to such an extent has this Salvation Army indulged in coarse and vulgar profanity, that the Home Secretary has been obliged to issue proclamations forbidding processions of any such religious bodies throughout the United Kingdom, much to the indignation of the Salvationists in particular. As it may not be generally known where and how this organisation originated, we may state that in 1865 an American gentleman, named Booth, seceded from the Methodist New Connexion, in which body lie was a minister, and and with his wife and family organised a society on entirely unsectarian principles, with the avowed object of rescuing the very lowest of the low in the back slums of cities, and who were out of reach of the normal influences of religion and morality. This family invited young men and women to come forward and help the good cause by enlisting in the Army of Christ under this Mr, or self-styled “ General,” Booth. Like the “ corpse ” to which Artemus Ward belonged, they nominated themselves as cadets, captains, lieutenants, majors, etc., but their profession was far different. _ These persons commenced operations by singing hymns in the public streets, and, when permitted, frequented the public houses and other haunts of vice, for the purpose of endeavoring to redeem the outcasts of society. How far they have in one way been successful, the few figures at the commencement of the article will suffice to convince our readers, but what amount of real good is done by these enthusiasts is extremely difficult to arrive at. A few months ago a town or remote village in Great Britain was without nightly performances cf “ Salvationists,” and the various accounts of the disgraceful scenes which havejoccurred show the extent to which this religious prostitution is carried by this army, and, as a result, an opposition band has been formed calling themselves the “ Skeleton Army.” The natural outcome of all this is, that, as may be expected, when two distinct armies oppose eaeh other there are unseemly melees, peaceful inhabitants are disturbed, the police and military are called out, and general disturbance is made in otherwise quietly disposed communities. The only way to lessen the disturbances was by prohibiting public processions, and this appears to have had a good effect. It appears, however, that open air meetings are not in any way prohibited and so the various “ captains ” now preside at them instead of parading through the streets with their armies; but we believe their proceedings are too often characterised by scenes that are a disgrace to any civilized nation. A rumor has reached here that a branch of this Salvation Army is about to be established in our own oiony, and in all probability before long we shall not be surprised to witness the spectacle of a number of men and vomen, in marching order, singing hymns with stentorian lungs in the principal streets of our cential cities. They may possibly do good, but in our opinion much more good can be done if they confine their “ preaching ” to within the four walls of a suitable building, and spend their money in the more legitimate way of paying their individual tradesmen’s accounts, and not robbing their employers. As a matter of fact, it is just amongst the members of these publicly advertising worshippers that that most hateful of beings, the “ hypocritical scoundrel,” is generally unearthed. That he is easily found in such company, is a well-known fact to the detectives, and for this reason, the Army may not be without its uses. Still, we prefer to see such an organisation utilised for a better purpose, and it is a most humiliating fact to find that such large support is given in England to work, which to say the least, can never be effected by a parade of religious feeling, cloaked with such hypocrisy. ,We hope that !
the strongest Measures will be taken to prevent the “ skirmishers ” of the Salvation Army, ever parading their virtues in this colony, by means of processions in our streets. We have had quite enough of religious processions already. If they come, they must be satisfied with indoor performances, and we hope the Government will speedily take steps to prevent the “ Salvationists” making any demonstration of such a character in our streets.