Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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Founded by William Booth (1829-1912) in the 1860s as the Christian Mission for Evangelistic, Social and Rescue Work in the slums of London's East End, the name Salvation Army was adopted in 1878.

The Salvation Army now has missions in nearly 100 countries with 25,000 full-time officers and is well known for its charitable work for the homeless and in tracking down the whereabouts of lost persons. The Salvation Army, however, is also a religious organization, with a specific doctrinal statement of its beliefs and practices. The movement is organized as a military bureaucracy with a general at its apex; members wear a familiar uniform, with the women still donning traditional bonnets. Meetings are frequently held on street corners and other public places to the accompaniment of a brass band.

Roland Robertson (1967) provides a social scientific account of the Salvation Army's development using a church-sect model.

Eileen Barker


F. Coutts, No Discharge in This War , 6 vols. (London: Nelson, 1947-1968)

E. H. MacKinley, Marching to Glory (San Francisco: Harper, 1984)

R. Robertson, "The Salvation Army," in Patterns of Sectarianism , ed. B. Wilson (London: Heinemann, 1967): 49-105.

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