Sunday, January 15, 2012

How Respectable is the Salvation Army?

A film has been made about riots in Eastbourne back in the early days of the Salvation Army. This is a bit of recent history I didn't know much about, though I had heard of the 'skeleton army' formed to disrupt Salvation Army rallies:

Music was initially used to drown out the voices of hecklers, but was soon seen as a more effective way of carrying the Christian message.

But by the early 1890s persecution of the Salvation Army in various towns had increased so much that a bylaw was passed in Eastbourne making it illegal for the army to march and perform its music.

The Salvationists defied the ban, much to the anger of locals who formed a "skeleton army" with the aim of attacking them and destroying their instruments.

Many people were injured and many Salvationists were jailed in Lewes Prison for their defiance.

From the article, it sounds like rioting was just as much a spectator sport then as it is now, except now we can let the media film them for us. Might be a good discussion starter on what constitutes persecution, when it's right to make a stand, and what we do to bring it on ourselves in the first place.

And how things have changed: this Christmas the Salvation Army Carols at our local Octagon Centre sold out, whilst only about 1/3 of the tickets were sold for Richard Dawkins visit. I wonder if the early Salvationists would be pleased that their successors are seen as respectable, with people flocking to hear the music, rather than to see the confrontation. Though we should be thankful the policing costs are lower.

1 comment:

  1. Being persecuted for belief in Jesus Christ is not new, just sad that in a professed Christian Country, such persecution was permitted.