Salvation Army: Bells for Abortion?

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Ring-a-ling-a-ling goes the bell as stalwart souls stand in the cold, next to the familiar red kettle beseeching passersby to give alms every Advent. Looking into their faces you can see kindness and dedication to a cause in which they fervently believe. Their expression is joyful and they banter with anyone who is willing to donate to their cause – the Salvation Army (SA). Yet there is, as Paul Harvey would say, ‘the rest of the story’. Are we really free to sacrificially give and then go merrily on our way with a placated heart and soul? Not so fast!

As with any aspect of our Christian lives, it behooves us to become well catechized before we act. When we donate to a large organization it isn’t the same type of faithful giving as giving the man on the street corner your last $20 because he is hungry. That act is done out of faith – on an individual basis. Sure, you don’t know this man and he could take your gift and buy himself a bottle of cheap bourbon – but the onus is on him because you have given out of true charity and a clear conscience. When it comes to organizations, however, we have the ability – and duty – to delve a bit deeper into the mission and moral standing of the recipient. There are pertinent questions to be answered before a wholesale submission of a gift is given.

Salvation Army Mission Statement

On its surface the Mission Statement of the Salvation Army, as it pertains to abortion, appears sound.

“The Salvation Army believes all people are created in the image of God and therefore have unique and intrinsic value…The Salvation Army accepts the moment of fertilization as the start of human life…The Salvation Army believes that life is a gift from God and we are answerable to God for the taking of life.”

And yet, one must delve no deeper than the next paragraph to find a most disturbing addition.

“The Salvation Army recognizes tragic and perplexing circumstances that require difficult decisions regarding a pregnancy… The Salvation Army believes that termination can occur only when carrying the pregnancy further seriously threatens the life of the mother; or reliable diagnostic procedures have identified a foetal abnormality considered incompatible with survival for more than a very brief post natal period.

In addition, rape and incest are brutal acts of dominance violating women physically and emotionally. This situation represents a special case for the consideration of termination as the violation may be compounded by the continuation of the pregnancy.”

In a 2007 interview with Der Bund, General Shaw Clifton even contrasts the SA view of abortion with that of the Catholic Church in his reply to the following question:

Der Bund: You involve yourselves with questions such as abortion. I am assuming that The Salvation Army is against it?

General Clifton: That’s too simple. We are not as conservative as our catholic brothers and sisters. There are situations in which abortion is the lesser evil, for instance in cases of severe deformities of the foetus, [or] rape…

Hold on! Didn’t we just have an election where we drew the line at those very faulty exceptions? Health and life of the mother, fetal abnormalities, rape and incest were certainly sticking points for many of us as we struggled with being faithful citizens. So shouldn’t our charitable giving elicit equivalent care? After all, here’s an issue of which we have total control. No one is voting to force you to give against your will – the object of your charity is completely up to your informed discretion.

A connection to Planned Parenthood

Salvation Army - abortion, contraception, Planned Parenthood

Life Decisions International (LDI), a pro-life watchdog organization, keeps the pro-life community informed of companies and organizations that support the culture of death through direct donations to Planned Parenthood (PP) and support abortion through other means. For a fee, one can purchase their complete list of those organizations with habitual connections to PP. LDI also has an expanded “Dishonorable Mention” section detailing charitable groups that are associated with Planned Parenthood either through donations or joint programs. Salvation Army appears on that listing in addition to groups such as AARP, Lions Clubs, the American Cancer Society, Camp Fire Girls Inc., Girl Scouts, Kiwanis Clubs, the March of Dimes, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Rotary Clubs, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

In an interview with Drew Mariani of Relevant Radio, Douglas Scott, founder of LDI also connects the “Executive Vic President of Salvation Army International with Planned Parenthood”. Further Mr. Scott says that in some locations, “Planned Parenthood offices actually share an office with the Salvation Army”. In LDI correspondence with them, the SA quickly wants to change the subject and instead highlight, “all the good we do”.

Contraception rears its ugly head as well

As we further peruse the SA website there is also a stated support of contraception in their international positional statement:

“A serious commitment to the protection and care of the unborn calls us to a commitment to the prevention of unwanted pregnancy through means such as access to reliable birth control…”

Yikes, yet another position not in sync with Holy Mother Church. This is getting serious!

And yet another sticking point – the Sacraments

Then there’s even more incompatibility. The SA is a heretical organization/church. Founder, William Booth, convened a “War Congress” in 1878 in which he and his followers adopted the name “Salvation Army,” with the purpose of “carrying the Blood of Christ and the Fire of the Holy Ghost into every part of the world.” This might sound like a worthy direction to take but as we go on there are more problematic details to be found.

A distressing phenomenon was General Booth’s complete rejection of the Sacraments. Although for some years he continued to follow the Protestant tradition of two Sacraments – Baptism and the “Lord’s Supper”, they had a purely symbolic connotation until finally they were dispensed with altogether.  In practice, many adult recruits had never been baptized – nor was it required. In the end Booth had come to the conclusion that, not only were the Sacraments not vital – they were a mistake. Therefore, in his “Foundation Deed” he abolished the Sacraments completely. This presumptive decision was made by a man who lacked scholarship in theology or scripture yet he pitted his judgment infallibly against the teaching of all the Fathers and Tradition of the Church.

Moral Alternatives

Salvation Army is not the pro-life choice for charitable giving

So what are we to make of this? Do the good works performed by the SA outweigh their acceptance of abortion exceptions and support of contraception? In a word, ‘no’. After all, the options for charitable giving are vast. We are easily able to find a more worthy and life-affirming recipient for our alms. Rather than giving to a sect (SA) that has little moral common ground with Holy Mother Church, perhaps our focus should go to more suitable recipients. Sunday’s Gospel from Luke told us, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Surely, our pastors know of local families who are in need. Perhaps a young woman in your area finds herself pregnant during this season. Pregnancy Support Centers can always use help as well. Why not give a gift to some such person or group? How about it…do you have any ideas? Please share your suggestions with us!


Might I suggest a great, ethical alternative to the Salvation Army? Cross Catholic Outreach feeds the poorest of the poor in Honduras – 94.8% of your donation goes directly to these efforts. Their support of the missionary efforts of the Catholic Church in the developing world is endorsed by more than 70 U.S. Bishops. Cross Catholic Outreach is also an affiliate of Catholic Charities. Please prayerfully consider them when you make your Advent alms-giving decisions. God bless!

36 Replies to “Salvation Army: Bells for Abortion?”

  1. As a person who cares for women / families who are in the midst of pregnancies where the baby’s life is expected to be very brief, I am bothered by those comments. I know Im preaching to the choir here, but I have seen amazing lives lived out in an hours time and discounting them so abruptly like is done in their comments reflects a poor understanding of neonatal life and death.

    So many good articles have been written on the topic of Perinatal Hospice that I think everyone has heard of it, but I guess I am wrong. You guys already featured the video I made on the subject so this is old news to you, but if you ever want to access it, just google “Perinatal Hospice” and it is the first video that is listed. Its been seen in 105 countries.

  2. Once again, I’ve let someone else do the research for me, too busy/lazy to check (I’d heard whisperings about the SA.) ~ so thank you! And darn. I’ll look up perinatal hospice in my area, per Tammy’s request, and not feel guilty for passing by the red pot. We have active, Catholic homes for women in trouble, homeless families,soup kitchens, etc. that are our usual recipients, as the protestant counterparts are anti-Catholic around here. Thanks again!

  3. Thank you for your excellent research on this issue. My friend Anita Crane ran this story a year ago on SA’s position on abortion using a quote from me.
    Leticia Velasquez, a mother of three, including one child with Down syndrome, is an author and founder of Keep Infants with Down Syndrome or KIDS. She said, “The Salvation Army should re-consider their position on this critical issue, as it is not consistent with a pro-life stance.

    “An abnormal prenatal diagnosis does not lower the God-given dignity of a baby. We believe that all human life is sacred from conception until natural death. If a baby is destined to live only within her mother’s womb for a few brief moments or days afterward, then we must give that child the full span of life and not end her life by abortion.”


  4. I have heard the suggestion, of placing a note in the SA kettle, explaining why you are not donating and why ALL life is Sacred, regardless of how they are conceived.

    Thanks Birgit

  5. Excellent suggestion, Margie. I had thought I’d print this post out and give it to the bell ringers I come across. In any case, it’s always a good idea to follow up a boycott with an explanation to the offending organization or business…otherwise they won’t know how many of the faithful object to their immoral sentiments. Voicing your concern gives them an opportunity to learn and to change their policy. God bless!

  6. I have never met Letecia Velasquez, but our universes are not far apart and I run across her writings frequently, so hello Leticia, I hope to meet you in person sometime !

    I love how you describe that the value of the baby doesn’t depend on them not being sick…what a sad absurdity that we have become so inclined to set value on other humans that we feel we can quickly deem someone as not worth our effort.

    When I care for a dying newborn (and I have had the experience over and over that many of the infants I have cared for who are born with life limiting conditions very often live in the 40 – 60 minute range until the reserves they got had from their mom run out) I look at them knowing that they are existing in 2 worlds at the same time. I think they have one foot in heaven as I care for them and I believe that God gives them an extra capacity to understand and communicate with their parents in a way that is much more than healthy newborns.

    They are born so weak and completely dependent on our kindness and our mercy and to their sick selves, we are comparatively so very strong. In an instant, however, a huge cataclysmic change happens where their soul goes on and they become very strong and we are – in comparison – much weaker than them. I have humble respect for these tiny pilgrims knowing that they will be powerful warriors in a short period of time and I got the privilege of caring for them.

  7. My former pastor’s response to me re: the Salvation Army — It’s funny you should ask, because I went to meet the salvation army pastor near me the other day, because our church wanted to adopt a needy family for Christmas and thought they might help us locate one. The senior pastor or commander, was a woman. There were posters advertising planned parenthood in the church lobby. They are Protestant, but very liberal like the Presbyterian USA, United Methodist, and United Church of Christ.

  8. Lori, thank you so much for sharing your former pastor’s response with us! It is very disheartening to hear of such blatant support for PP by the Salvation Army but we are better off being informed.

  9. Their Statement of Position makes NO SENSE. You are either pro-life or you aren’t. Making allowances for health of mother or birth defects is wrong. If a group’s mission statement is pro-life EXCEPT then they aren’t pro-life.

    “There is a responsibility on all involved to give the parents of the unborn child, particularly the woman, appropriate pastoral, medical and other counsel. The Salvation Army believes that termination can occur only when:
    Carrying the pregnancy further seriously threatens the life of the mother; or
    Reliable diagnostic procedures have identified a foetal abnormality considered incompatible with survival for more than a very brief post natal period.

    In addition, rape and incest are brutal acts of dominance violating women physically and emotionally. This situation represents a special case for the consideration of termination as the violation may be compounded by the continuation of the pregnancy.”

  10. Eye-opening – thank you SO MUCH for your research. Our Deacon is passing an email around regarding which worthy institutions should get our charity dollars and which should not. Unfortunately, SA is still on the “good guys” list. Hopefully, after he reads this, SA will be on the no-no list along with March of Dimes, etc.

    One comment regarding giving $$ to panhandlers: our parish runs the largest soup kitchen in the city, and all the hungry folk know where it is, and its hours of operation. Our pastor has asked his parishioners NOT to simply hand money to those begging near the church grounds. If they’re new in town, tell them about the soup kitchen and invite them there for a meal. If your $$ is burning a hole in your pocket, take the hungry person to a restaurant for a meal on you (not McDonald’s though – LDI has them on its current boycott list because of their affiliation with PP). That way, you KNOW your money isn’t going to be spent on booze or drugs.

    Thanks again for all the great info. Knowledge is prolife power!

  11. I randomly came upon this page and I would just ask that you all do a little more research before you so quickly throw an organization under the bus. I have seen God use the Salvation Army to save and touch countless lives in the name of Jesus Christ. If you researched further you would find that the Salvation Army of the USA is in contention with this view of abortion in the case of rape and incest. Although, I am on the fence on the isse because I can’t imagine the emotional and physcological torture and evil that would be caused on a person who was brutally raped and then told that they would have to relive the experience for 9 months with the baby inside of them.

    On the issue of sacraments. The Salvation Army is not anti-sacramental but they believe and I am sure the Word of God is clear that the sacraments are just an outward symbol of an inward reality. They can be very beneficial but are not necessary for salvation. Please read Romans 2:26-29 again and Galatians 5:2-6 again. Circumcision was a symbol just like baptism and just like the Lord’s super. In this Galatians passage, Paul says that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love and I see the love of Jesus in the work The Salvation Army does and less love in the words that have been shared on this page.

  12. Confused about pretty much everything these days. I want to support different causes and other things, but I don’t support the killing of a baby. I know there are so many places that support PP, if I boycotted all them, I would have no where to go. I can only hope and pray that the choices I make are as good as can be.

  13. Mandy, I’m right there with you – it’s so confusing these days! Here’s how a very wise pro-life leader explained it to me: you can’t boycott everything/everyone supportive of abortion because, as you said, if you boycotted them all, you’d have nowhere to go. While that’s true, we can make some adjustments. If the company or service is necessary, we are forced to use them – since there is no alternative. Where we can make a difference is when something is optional. This is the case with the Salvation Army. They are certainly not the only charity doing good for the poor! There are many, morally sound alternatives out there – many in conjunction with Holy Mother Church! So instead of dropping your change into the bell ringer’s kettle, why not give to a crisis pregnancy center or check out Cross Catholic Outreach (a bishop approved alternative) ? They are running an awesome ART of Giving campaign right now! God bless and have a blessed Advent!

  14. I’m surprised that LDI charges for this list. It would seem to be a very good ministry and they’d want the list in as many people’s hands as possible. BTW, What is McDonald’s connection with PP? I’d hate to learn that the Big Mac I had for lunch yesterday benefited PP!!!

  15. I just came across this article. That 2nd paragraph contradicts the first one. If life begins at conception and all life has ‘unique and intrinsic value’, I don’t see how they can then say ‘Well, change that. If someone decides whether a life is not worth it after all, it can be disposed of.’

  16. This is an interesting take on The Salvation Army. As a member, I have to agree with the comment someone made that there is definitely not agreement on the matter of abortion within our church.

    I did want to point out that your sources are not necessarily totally accurate. We do not have a position in our church that is entitled “Executive Vice President”. I listened to that clip, and Douglas Scott does not give a name for that person. He also claims that The Salvation Army gives money to Planned Parenthood. We don’t “donate or give funds” to other organizations. He also does not give any proof of either of those claims. I even checked out his website, and there’s not much there, except a place to make a paid order. It would not be difficult at all for him to publish proof of his claims online, but he has not. I’m sorry, but I need a little more proof than just someone saying something in an interview. People say things in interviews every day that are inaccurate or untrue. If you know of any real proof for these claims (reports from The Salvation Army, Planned Parenthood, etc), I would love to hear about it.

  17. I have had many dealings with The Salvation Army and I can say without a doubt that your article is misinformed on several points.

    In many places, The Salvation Army offers homes for pregnant teens who cannot stay at home for some reason or another, and supports them in finishing their education while also helping them learn about being good mothers.

    The Salvation Army does not donate to other organizations or charities, so no money donated would ever go to Planned Parenthood. Monetary donations stay in the community to support programs designed specifically to support that community in their greatest needs such as providing food, shelter and programs for children.

    There are many worthy causes out there that could use help. But before you bash The Salvation Army, you should make sure that the charity you are donating to is helping people in the way you think they are, not just researching mission statements and political positions. After all, if you donate to a person on the street corner, do you background check them for following your specific set of beliefs? How do you know that person you are supporting isn’t pro-choice, or has had an abortion? Charities are designed to help people in need, not to check to see if their beliefs line up with the church before giving them basic necessities. And many charities spend much and more on their employees and administration, leaving little for the people they help. The Salvation Army though, spends 83 cents of every dollar donated in helping people in need. An actual fact you can see from reading their annual report posted every year online.

    So, obviously you have a choice when you decide to be charitable during the holidays. But, when doing your actual research, with real proof, rather than unsupported claims, The Salvation Army shapes up to be a pretty darn good organization to which you can donate and be sure that your money is directly going to help someone in need.

  18. Bob, I’ve wondered the same thing but would suppose that Life Dynamics International incurs many expenses in putting out this list. I wonder if they could do all of the intense research necessary without some sort of compensation – probably not.

  19. CherDash, exactly! Recognizing the intrinsic value of each life doesn’t allow room for changing your mind in specific circumstances. If the Salvation Army realized that each one is a unique and valuable child of God, then how do they turn the corner to accepting ‘some’ abortions? Better to donate to an organization that truly values everyone!

  20. Hi, Jen, thank you for stopping by. Life Decisions International is a highly respected pro-life research group and thoroughly vets their claims before publishing them. Others, such as American Life League also expose the collusion between the Salvation Army and Planned Parenthood. While money may not necessarily be exchanged, they do work together and/or share office space. This would be considered ‘support’.

    Further, he link to the Salvation Army’s own official stance on abortion is most telling and certainly can’t be questioned. Follow the link for yourself and read their own words. To be pro-life we must support the fact that all babies deserve their God-given right to life – even those conceived in rape/incest and those who may not be developmentally optimal. The SA simply doesn’t do that – sad, but true.

  21. very well written piece. I appreciate not only the very clear thinking and presentation, but the inclusion of source material.

    Thanks for posting it!


  22. Hi Ash, I want you to know that no one is saying that the Salvation Army doesn’t do *some* good work. There’s no denying that. What is problematic, and has been illustrated with sources in this post, is that the SA is accepting of abortion in *some* circumstances. Abortion is *never* acceptable. Period. Babies conceived in rape/incest or with physical anomalies have every bit as much right to their God-given life as you and I. The Salvation Army’s own website – in their own words – contradicts and denies that right. That, alone, is enough to steer faithful Catholics and other Christians toward another organization – one that is 100% pro-life – I have listed good alternatives as well. We have choices to make, based on good discernment. I have given readers the sourced information they need to make their decision with full knowledge.

  23. I do not want to claim that you have falsified this article, but I cannot find the original documents or statements online to which you reference throughout. Can you tell me where I can find where the Salvation Army says these things about themselves?

  24. UPDATE: Might I suggest a great, ethical alternative to the Salvation Army? Cross Catholic Outreach feeds the poorest of the poor in Honduras – 94.8% of your donation goes directly to these efforts. Their support of the missionary efforts of the Catholic Church in the developing world is endorsed by more than 70 U.S. Bishops. Cross Catholic Outreach is also an affiliate of Catholic Charities. Please prayerfully consider them when you make your Advent alms-giving decisions. God bless! To access their site follow this link:

  25. I’m so happy to have a post like this to give to my local news station supporting the Salvation Army on both their newscasts as well as on their website. I posted a link to this article on their FaceBook page and sent an email to one of their reporters. I hope more people support the ART of Giving at and pass by the red bell ringers scattered everywhere.

  26. Thanks for the kind comments, Pedar and Erika! It’s so important to share this type of information with others who may not be aware.

  27. Sue, while I wholeheartedly agree that some goals of the Catholic Church and the Salvation Army are the same – feeding the poor, etc. – the sticking point is their (SA) acceptance of abortion in some instances, complete acceptance of contraception (some of which is abortifacient), and cooperation with Planned Parenthood. Although the SA is not all bad, I am confident that other agencies are much more compatible with Catholics seeking to partner with a charity. If such charities exist (and they do), why settle for a Protestant sect having so many irreconcilable differences?

    Bless Pope Francis and the SA General for coming together to discuss commonalities. As the Vicar of Christ, would we expect the pope to do anything less? On the other hand, the meeting was certainly not an across the board endorsement. Again. Many other, more suitable charities exist.

  28. Please check out the 100% pro-life group called “ALL” or American Life League. This charitable organization is Catholic and supports life. The Holy Spirit led me to this group and I have been giving to them for a year now.

    Thank you for the eye-opener about the SA. They were one of my select “few” which ‘passed the test’ so to speak of acceptable charities… sigh.

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