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The church of the Salvation Army
The Salvation Army band plays at a charity distribution in Los Angeles.
December 22nd, 2011
09:46 AM ET

The church of the Salvation Army

Editor's note: Listen to the CNN Radio broadcast about the Salvation Army as a church:

By Jim Roope, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) - The Salvation Army is wrapping up its Red Kettle program for the year and hopes to top last year’s record $142 million collected nationwide. The money collected through the Red Kettles, seen only at Christmastime, helps fund all of the Salvation Army’s programs and ministries for the entire year.

“I call it the church where the rubber meets the road,” said Lt. Keri Rudd. She and her husband, Lt. Eric Rudd, are ministers at a Salvation Army church in the Los Angeles area.

Rudd said what many people don’t realize is that the Salvation Army is a 365-day-a-year evangelical Christian Church. “But because we do so many social services and family services, people think of us as just that,” she said.

The Salvation Army was founded in London in 1865 by William Booth. Rudd said the story goes that one morning at church some homeless people walked in and the parishioners didn’t want them there. So Booth decided he’d start his own church and serve what Rudd calls the friendless and the lowliest of the lowly.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

The Red Kettle program started in San Francisco in the early 1900s by Salvation Army Capt. Joseph McFee.

“He wanted to serve Christmas dinner, but he didn’t have any money,” Rudd said. He had a bucket. It was on the docks. And as the sailors would come in, they’d put money in the bucket,” she said. McFee realized he could use the money to feed the hungry and the vision.

Salvation Army embraces social media

Robyn Smith, a 30-year-old unemployed, single-mother of three, came by a recent toy distribution event at Rudd’s church to pick up items for her kids' Christmas gifts.

“My son got a Spiderman bike. Spiderman is his favorite thing in the whole world, and he’s going to absolutely love it. I wouldn’t be able to afford those. I actually priced them, and they were $80 at Wal-mart,” Smith said.

She received other toys and items, including a box of food for her family's Christmas dinner.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Christmas • Church • Holidays

soundoff (676 Responses)
  1. King Size Sheets

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    April 7, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  2. Starvation Army

    The Starvation Army is another Leaching Church charity that Leaches off the poor. They take peoples merchandise that is donated to them for FREE. Then they re sell the same used merchandise for ridiculously high prices. As far as there Salvation Army Concentration Camp where they take in and abuse and use the unfortunate goes here how it works. They give them a Voucher that pays just enough money for them to get food. Then they work them 6 Days a week for there slave wage labor, that normally would be Illegal. Then on Sunday they must attend church service.
    You if you live in one of there slave labor buildings are not allowed even one day off a week to search for a job. So they have got you stuck there, in there endless loop of disparity. The Salvation Army is nothing but a business under the Guise of a church. Jesus drove out the money changers in his temple. He turned over the merchants tables and drove out the animals they were selling with a whip. "nd Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves."

    Matthew 21:12

    December 29, 2011 at 4:11 am |
  3. Michael S.

    I would never give a dime to the Salvation army based only on their dogma. But I do give in support of their social services. The Church here is across the street from the service center and the shelter, I see lots of people in both the center and the shelter but have never yet seen any activity at the Church. That is just fine with me.

    December 29, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  4. Stan Fan

    It is spelled Spider-Man, not Spiderman. Such an error on Stan Lee's birthday of all days!

    December 28, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  5. HappyChickie

    You're an idiot talullah13....noone said that so get off your soap box

    December 28, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  6. TxLady204

    The Salvation Army definitely does some good, but its anti-gay policy prevents me from supporting them.

    December 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Be Better

      Then you're no better than they are since you are acting like them. They "definitely does some good, but..." I guarantee they are touching more lives than you are...better yet I guarantee they will help out a gay person.

      December 28, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • TXguy

      I feel the way you do, TxLady. I give generously to charities, but only to the ones whose policies and opinions I agree with.

      December 28, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • HappyChickie

      The Bible is anti-gay so why wouldn't a Christian group be? In saying that, the Salvation Army is not bigotted and would never discriminate when helping people....ANY PEOPLE.

      December 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Are you saying that gays aren't people? The Salvation Army discriminates against gays.

      December 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • HappyChickie

      When was the last time you all drove around the most dangerous parts of town, picking up the hungy, the wounded, the intoxicated?

      December 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • RC

      Do a 5 minute google search, you'll find at least 7 verses in the Bible both Old and Testaments that explicitly state that hom ose xuality is a sin and those that practice it will not go to heaven. Don't believe it, pick up a Bible and verify for yourself. Think the Bible was written by men with an agenda 400 years ago? Do some more research. We have manuscripts of the scriptures for the New Testament dating back to 100 years after Christ, and for the Old Testament, a few hundred years before, in the original languages. We have over 5000 manuscripts that we can compare against each other for accuracy, and we have archaelogy anthropology that will confirm that the ancient Hebrews were very meticulous about the accuracy of their holy scriptures. If there's a conspiracy involved, it's over 3500 years old and better organized than any civilization for that time period to pull it off.

      You decide, but don't do so uninformed.

      December 29, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • Tsr67

      Seven whole verses? What shall we do with the verses that forbid women to wear red? Or people to eat shellfish? Or pigs? Or the state that women are ritually unclean for seven days after giving birth to a boy baby but it's fourteen days for a girl baby? Oh wait, we can ignore those verses but have to take these other seven verses as divine law. Great, I understand perfectly now!

      December 30, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • TXguy

      RC, prove that every word in the Bible is the literal word of God and then we can discuss what the text actually forbids. Prove that every word in the Bible comprises the complete and literal word of God, and that at no time were there any errors, omissions, distortions or misrepresentations imposed upon it through all the hands that contributed material to (or deleted material from) the scriptures, and then we can discuss the matter of allegiance to it.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  7. bla bla bla

    bla bla bla

    December 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  8. Sick of Gay Agenda

    Go back in the closet and leave the normal people alone!

    December 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Wholly Mary

      Yadda, yadda, yadda

      December 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  9. Anne

    I wonder if the same people who complain about the salaries of nonprofit executives feel the same way about the slaries of for profit CEOs? They both run multi-million $ organizations and require the same skill set.

    December 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Jim

      One thing the you obviously do not know is that the CEO of the Salvation Army makes less than 40K a year. Compare that to the CEO of the Red Cross that makes over 500K a year. I am not a religious person, but I support the Salvation Army because they support anyone in need, regardless of religious affiliation. I only support the Salvation Army and the rest can go pound sand.

      December 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Get Real

      Saying the Salvation Army CEO only makes 40k a year ignores the fact that they don't pay for their home or board and other benefits. The Red Cross CEO does not enjoy those benefits.

      Furthermore, take a look at the Salvation Army's rank on the not-for-profit evaluator - charitynavigator.com - While the Red Cross enjoys a stellar ranking, demonstrating high standards for donor efficiency, you will not find any information about the Sal Army there, because they don't share the percentage of their $ that are used on admin, claiming that as a church, they don't have to. for all of you interested in facts, how can you donate to an organization that won't share data to show their level of stewardship?

      December 29, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  10. steve

    LH – I like your comment. However, you mean they should be a bit MORE secular. Secular means non-religious.

    December 28, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • SeanNJ

      Reminds me of that "Sports Night" episode where Josh Charles' character obsesses over which word he used when talking to Hilary Clinton.

      December 28, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • MiddleFinger

      Organized religion is and always has been, a curse upon Mankind. A simple review of history will reveal the millions killed or maimed by Christianity, Islam, etc.

      And interpretation of the Bible, a collection of myths and stories by who know who, continues to be used by politicians, dictators, and snake oil salesman. I don't need a religion to believe in God nor do I need a "Sunday Snake Oil Salesman" to interpret the Bible for me.

      December 29, 2011 at 7:10 am |
    • An inconvenient truth

      Seems you don't know history, secular and atheistic doctrines have been the cause of more death and suffering on the earth than anything else. One Russian Communist leader checks in at over 25 million victims by himself. Granted many nations have claimed God was on their side in wars, but that does not make it so. The atheistic third riech had gott mit us God with us imprinted on their belt buckles.

      December 29, 2011 at 7:18 am |
    • Jimtanker

      How were the nasiz atheitsic? Let me see where in their mission statement they were doing what they did for atheistic cuases. There are reams of evidence that HitIer did what he did becuase of the fact that he was a catholic and WITH the backing of the pope at the time.

      December 29, 2011 at 7:21 am |
    • An inconvenient truth

      There is no credible evidence to support hitler or nazis as Christian of any kind. The true national socialist was taught to think that national socialism or atheism was their religion and that adolf hitler was their savior. A belief that hitler fostered and encouraged. Any "agreement" with the Catholic Church was entered into by the Church in the false hope that appeasement would save lives.

      December 29, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  11. StoJoe

    zoomer says "...TAKE THEM
    SHOPPING . THAT'S WHAT i DO..."
    What good is going shopping with you if they don't have a roof over their head? The nickles dimes and quarters collected by SA volunteers do so much more for the needy than your supposed trip to the store that there is no comparison. Take your money and find a charity that can put your money to much more efficient use.

    December 28, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  12. LH

    The salvation army is a good organization. However, I truly believe if they were a bit LESS SECULAR in the way they try to inspire donations, that they would probably be more successful. For example, there were several salvation army volunteers standing at the entrances of a local supermarket in Albany, NY saying "merry xmas" to everyone who walked in. This store is the LARGEST jewish grocery store in the city, so a good percentage of the patrons do not celebrate xmas. You can do good work inspired by jesus without shoving jesus in everyone's faces. In today's diverse cities, why not make your approach a bit more general? I work in a business where more than 25% of my customers are of non-christian faith, do you think I send out XMAS cards to them? NO. Happy Holidays would do just fine.

    December 28, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • LH

      PS...that boy on the right is cute. I would love to blow his tuba.

      December 28, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • Jeanne Thompson

      If the Salvation Army had to remember what to say to each person who passes by the bell ringers would have to get a list. Merry Christmas has been the tradditional Christmas greeting since the beginning. I happen to be Catholic but any greeting would be okay with me. Not Heil Hitler however. The bell ringers are the highlight of the holidays for me. You know they do not make much for the job and they are out there in snow, sleet, freezing winds collecting money for an excellent charity who helps the needy. Each and every bell ringer that I have encountered is so friendly and the one at Sams Club in Saginaw, MI sings all of the time. I am 68 and so tired of all of this political correctness at every turn. Give them a break they do good work. Beats some of the language you would hear inside the mall.

      December 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  13. zoomer

    STILL ONLY ABOUT 35% GOES TO HELP people. DON'T GIVE TO THESE CHARITIES FIND A NEEDY FAMILY AND TAKE THEM
    SHOPPING . THAT'S WHAT i DO.

    December 28, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • Willy

      That's just a lie. Salvation Army is the most "up and up" organization. Their CEO makes around $50k a year and somewhere around 80-90 cents per donated dollar goes directly to helping people....

      December 28, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • wayne

      zoomer you are just plain wrong... here are some national stats:

      The American Red Cross President and CEO Marsha J. Evans
      salary for the year was $651,957 plus expenses.

      The United Way President Brian Gallagher receives a $375,000 base salary along with numerous expense benefits.

      UNICEF CEO Caryl M. Stern receives $1,200,000 per year (100k per month) plus all expenses including a ROLLS ROYCE. Less than 5 cents of your donated dollar goes to the cause

      The Salvation Army's Commissioner Todd Bassett receives a salary of only $13,000 per year (plus housing) for managing this $2 billion dollar organization.
      96 percent of donated dollars go to the cause.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Oy

      Wayne...those names and amounts are really, really outdated. Marsha Evans hasn't been the CEO of the Red Cross since 2005.
      And the head of the Salvation Army is named William Roberts and he makes $126,920/year.
      I wish people would do some research before just copying and pasting. Seriously.

      December 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.