[Note: This is not an article about the pros and cons of the alcohol and gaming industries. It is only about the Salvation Army’s position on them.]
The Salvation Army in Australia appears to be resolutely hypocritical about what it regards as sins. Older Australians will remember when the Salvos would congregate outside hotels, making a lot of noise, and preaching against the evils of the “demon drink”. They also opposed legalizing gambling establishments.
Later, the Salvos stopped doing this, and were permitted to enter the hotels and bars to collect donations from the “sinful” drinkers. Similarly, the Salvos entered legalized gambling establishments to solicit donations from the “sinful” gamblers. In both cases, while it was prepared to take money from the drinkers and gamblers, it did not take money or other help from those who profited from these sinful activities, the alcohol and gambling establishments.
In Australia, the Salvation Army now does do this.
The founder of the Salvation Army, “General Booth”, in the 1860s, replying to criticisms that he was prepared to accept what he admitted was “tainted” money from the exploitative capitalists of the early days of the Industrial Revolution, responded by saying that the money was “purified” by passing through the hands of the Salvation Army, because of the good works it funded.
The Australian Salvation Army appears to take its founder’s position to the extreme by including alcohol and gambling establishments’ money and “purifying” it.
The Salvation Army in other countries has quite a different view to the Australian branch. Recently, the Canadian branch campaigned, successfully, against a casino in Toronto, Canada. In thanking the Toronto City Council for its decision not to grant the casino licence, Lt.-Colonel Susan van Duinen, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army said: “Thank you Toronto City Council for making the right decision regarding the proposed downtown casino as together we fight against poverty and homelessness.”
It has done the same in a few cases in the U.K. and New Zealand.
In 2003, the Salvation Army in Florida would not even accept a $100,000 donation from a Lotto winner because its local leader didn’t want to take money associated with gambling. Major Cleo Damon said that he could not take the money because “There are times where the Salvation Army is counseling families who are about to become homeless because of gambling.” No problem with this in Australia.
In New Zealand, the Salvation Army first refused gambling revenue in 2008. Since then, the organization has not accepted funding from electronic gaming machines (“pokies”) grants, or any other funding that is derived from gambling profits. It decided to go this route because it does not support gambling, and offers programs to help counsel problem gamblers, and it would seem “hypocritical to accept funding from pokie or casino operators.” No problem with this in Australia.
A “Positional Statement”, approved by the world head of the Salvation Army last year reads: “The Salvation Army is opposed to gambling. The nature of gambling lends itself to exploitative, deceptive and manipulative practices. It is contrary to Christian principles of love, freedom from oppression and concern for others.”
“As such it should not be a means of income generation or economic development, whether by government agencies, charitable organisations, churches or commercial interests.”
So, what does the Salvation Army in Australia do? Recently, it accepted a $750,000 donation from a casino. It “partners” with the casino (see previous posting).
It also is being paid $20,000, per year, each, for “chaplains” who spend up to 15 hours per week in other gambling clubs, in return for being available to “counsel” problem gamblers who approach them for help.
The Salvos also are permitted to collect donations from patrons, on Friday nights, and these can average almost $400 for each of the 1,200 clubs, yielding potentially about $5 million per year.
Last Easter, Crown Casino in Perth (a Salvos “partner” company) issued a press release that its “very own Easter Bunny” would be collecting Easter eggs to donate to the Salvos.
The Press Release reads: “A dedicated collection point was set up in the Staff Dining Room at Crown Perth for the duration of the Appeal, and a huge collection box full of eggs is being presented to The Salvation Army. You are invited to a photo opportunity at the collection event, which will be attended by Crown Perth staff and representatives from The Salvation Army – see below Notes to Editor for details.”
[Notes to Editor:
Photo opportunities available. Crown Perth will present donations to The Salvation Army on Tuesday, 26 March at 0930, at the dedicated collection area, with The Salvation Army and Crown Perth staff. Photographers can enter via staff entry located on the left hand side of the under croft car park. Should the photographer wish to park in the under croft an exit pass will be provided to allow free parking. You must register your interest by calling ANGELEEN DELLAR on 93628065. For further information, contact: Crown Casino Public Relations.]
It also “partners” with one of Australia’s largest supermarket chains. This chain owns a 75% share in the ALH Group, which in turn operates 285 alcohol-licensed venues (hotels and bars) and over 450 retail liquor stores across Australia. ALH also operates 1,200 electronic gaming machines.
The supermarket’s web-site boasts that it “and the Salvation Army have had a long and mutually beneficial partnership in practical help. Both organisations are grass roots organisations.” Brendan Nottle, of the Salvation Army, said his organisation “believed in building strong relationships with corporations.”
[Postscript: Australian media is reporting that Peter Cosgrove, Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, is a certainty to be appointed the new Governor-General (Head of State) shortly.]
See more here:
Image: Salvation Army officer, Paul Moulds, at the Sydney City RSL club electronic gaming room, is looking forward to the paid “chaplain” program. Picture: Tim Hunter (Source: The Daily Telegraph)
Image: Anti-gambling campaigner, Independent Senator for South Australia State, Nick Xenophon
Image: Senator Xenophon criticizes Woolworths Supermarkets for buying into gambling
Image: Independent Federal Member of Parliament from Tasmania State, Andrew Wilkie, campaigning for restrictions on electronic gaming machines. Julia Gillard’s written promise to introduce his requested reforms, gained his support, enabling her to form minority government, and become Prime Minister in 2010. Ms. Gillard later broke the agreement.
Image: Boomtown Casino partnered with The Salvation Army and placed a red kettle and bell ringers at the casino entrance. “The Salvation Army was excited about the opportunity to partner with Boomtown Casino, and even accepted gaming chips as donations!” a casino spokesperson was reported as excitedly saying.
Read more here:
Previous postings on the Salvation Army:
TOMORROW: The Salvation Army position on sexuality
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)