salvation army bands, young men and alcohol

Aussie Tuba

Member
Brian Kelly;569335I also agree with Peter Bale that drinking alcohol in itself is not necessarily the most serious failing for a Salvationist. I have known Salvationists who occaisionally smoked and/or drank alcohol but who were otherwise good people said:
I totally Agree, but Most of the Salvationist's I know are the tee total keeping to the rules type, I have met some of the others too but not many.
 

Shaggy

New Member
Christ almighty!! yet another thread even I would simply not have had the nuts to initiate for fear of being bludgeoned to death by the mods with a rolled up copy of "War Cry".
 

Morghoven

Member
I have known Salvationists who occaisionally smoked and/or drank alcohol but who were otherwise good people, and I have also known Salvationists who were teetotal and kept to all the other rules, but who were, well, "nasty pieces of work" is the best family-friendly phrase which comes to mind.

It has to be said that this sort of scenario is by no means confined to the SA, but can unfortunately happen throughout the church and indeed the wider world.

As I think most people are aware I too am ex-SA, and like many others parted company for a variety of reasons which are not relevant here. However, I maintain the position that if you sign up for something you should either abide by it or resign. I am no longer an SA member and I like a drink - but I would not respect anyone who claimed to be signed up to being teetotal (for whatever reason) and didn't carry it through; and I wouldn't respect anyone who agreed to anything else and then recanted. For me it's not about alcohol as such, it's about keeping your word.

[One of the best threads for a long while, and one I have followed with interest. Superb informed discussion and considered opinions all round - thank you!]
 

JimboFB

Active Member
The above post would appear to be indicative of the general thinking on here.

It would also appear that in general people have not "left" the army due to the drinking/not drinking issue, but for various other reasons. As i mentioned in a previous post i believe that the whole drinking issue clouds a far bigger problem with recruitment/retention of current members to this particular organisation.

There is probably (i only have my own experiences to go on ) an equal amount of other misdemeanors going on such as smoking, gambling, adultery. These maybe linked, but dont get as much coverage in this type of general discussion.
 

stevetrom

Well-Known Member
Slightly off topic, but a question for the current members, is the no alcahol rule ever discussed with the possibility of it being removed/amended?

As far as I know their is no Biblical reason for abstinence, only for temperance, has the SA ever seriously considered changeing to a temperance rule?
 

fugee

New Member
I believe the issue was raised with the SA management a year or two ago (i remember reading it in the Salvationist), but I seem to recall a statement coming out along the lines of nothing needs to be changed. I think current General Shaw Clifton is bit of a traditionalist when it comes to things like that.
The other thing to bear in mind is that most leaders (by virtue of the time it takes to get 'to the top') have been in the SA all their lives- so have lived relatively sheltered lives. Those working on THQ/IHQ spend all their week with fellow Salvationists, most evenings (rehearsals), and then Sundays as well- so unlike the common or garden 'bandsman' theyre not normally in surroundings where they can be tempted by the demon drink!
 

Bass Trumpet

Active Member
I suppose it comes down to signing 'the pledge' again. The SA may indeed want to rethink their stance on such matters (I say 'may' just to create the hypothetical), but they are bound by something they signed and believe in. If the SA wish to re-think, they would have to drop 'the pledge' with all their new members, so that in 60+ years time, all those who did sign it would be dead. Quite a drastic step, I'm sure you would agree.

Again, in a hypothetical world, if the SA wanted to rethink their stance, perhaps a middle ground would be to have a graded membership? Those who don't drink/smoke and those who do so in moderation? Perhaps that drinking and smoking person could be an associate member, or something?

This is only a naive suggestion from a non-SA player. I would be interested in comment from an SA person on these thoughts as they might be totally ridiculous :oops:

By the way, 'the pledge' must be a good thing, as my Granny signed it in 1920 and she's still going strong at (almost) 98! 'I think God forgot me' she says!
 

Anonymous_user

New Member
Again, in a hypothetical world, if the SA wanted to rethink their stance, perhaps a middle ground would be to have a graded membership? Those who don't drink/smoke and those who do so in moderation? Perhaps that drinking and smoking person could be an associate member, or something?

This is only a naive suggestion from a non-SA player. I would be interested in comment from an SA person on these thoughts as they might be totally ridiculous :oops:!

They already have adherents in the SA. Adherents cannot play in the bands or sing in the songsters as you have to be soldiers to take part in the musical sections but they would still be able to drink and smoke. However these guys wouldn't be interested anyway if they couldn't play in the band

As for the present general methinks he turned a blind eye at least once at a former corps with quite a good band a number of years ago.

Adherents
1. Pastoral Care Council approval. Only persons approved by the PCC may be enrolled as adherents of The Salvation Army.

2. Definition. An adherent member of The Salvation Army is a person who, while not entering into the Soldier’s Covenant,

· believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and seeks to follow and be like him,

· participates in the worship, fellowship, service and support of a local Salvation Army congregation,

· identifies with the mission of The Salvation Army.

3. Conditions of adherency. The PCC is empowered to approve the enrolment of an adherent provided the person proposed:

(a) Has completed the application form;

(b) Is 14 years of age or over;

(c) Meets the definition of adherency given above;

(d) Is not an active member of any other religious body.
 

Aussie Tuba

Member
Again, in a hypothetical world, if the SA wanted to rethink their stance, perhaps a middle ground would be to have a graded membership? Those who don't drink/smoke and those who do so in moderation? Perhaps that drinking and smoking person could be an associate member, or something?

There already is a type of graded membership, People who believe in what The Salvation Army Stands for, but Can't or Don't want to commit fully and become Soldiers, Can become an Adherant and do not need to sign the articles of War ( Pledge ).
Adherants do not wear uniform but otherwise associate themselves as Salvationists by attending Sunday services ( meetings ). and being identified as Salvationist.
 

stevetrom

Well-Known Member
Aussie Tua, were you in the SA band I saw playing carols in the centre of Brisbane on saturday 15th dec?

I was soooooo jealous and it was very odd to see a band in short sleeves playing carols.
 

Bass Trumpet

Active Member
Thanks Aussie Tuba and Franciscalbert for clearing that one up. Would it be possible in the future for Adherants to play in the band and sing if the SA were to be more flexible?
 

fugee

New Member
I know a lot of bands/songsters are now introducing policies of letting any regular attender take part in either rehearsals, or even to play on Sundays/Concerts- regardless of whether in uniform or not. Ive long felt this is the way to go, in that the band/songsters would make a great 'club' for people to belong to.... and to keep people attached to the movement, even if they like a tipple!

It does seem rather odd though that the powers that be keep 'turning a blind eye' towards one or two of our bigger London based bands where alcohol is prevalent (and not in any way hidden!) amongst members. Perhaps they feel that these bands are such a showpiece for the movement that they feel they have to ignore all the stuff thats going on amongst the members?
 

fireborn

Member
From this act of signing the covenant, does this mean that any individual who does can be identified as homophobic as well?

Just because you believe that homosexuality is wrong does not make you homophobic. Remember, a phobia is a fear not a belief or moral stance. Anyway this is completely irrelevant to the topic of this thread.
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks Aussie Tuba and Franciscalbert for clearing that one up. Would it be possible in the future for Adherants to play in the band and sing if the SA were to be more flexible?

A couple of observations here: when the SA moved back into Russia, the first bands were formed largely of Adherents, with many military musicians coming along initially to play in the band, and then entering into a fuller commitment later on.

You also have the situation, especially in newly opened centres, where the decision is taken to form a singing group, or an instrumental group, rather than a formally commissioned band. This then does allow new contacts to get involved straight away, and makes for a more flexible approach.
 

L J

Member
As a non active S A player, I think that this whole issue underlines problems in our societies now in general.
One of the previous respondents mentioned that it is the covenant that a SA Soldier, yes you do or at least you had to be a Soldier prior to being able to play in a SA Band. (A Soldier, by the way is a formal member of the S A (Church) body.
Prior to becoming a Soldier, the person is given classes in the articles of the SA and as such is much aware of the total teetotalism.
I earlier said that the problem seems to be part of our societies now, in that it seems far too easy to 'rationalise' such as saying 'God doesn't care if I drink...' - or does He?
We think that we can make such statements but where did this person sign the Articles of War or Covenant?
It is part and parcel of being part of TSA. William Booth saw how much drink and all that is related to it, caused so much damage in society in his day, and yes, even today, it still causes so much damage in society, in an individual, by making excuses, but if confronted, does the person lie or does the person continue to be deceitful.
It is sad that we are rationalising so much now, in our personal, business, and other ways in our lives.
I was brought up as a child of officers and as such we were expected to try to be obedient to God and the Salvation Army, as our parents had given us back to God when we were still young - during a Dedication Service - which is probably similar to someone being baptised as a baby, or being confirmed. ( I am not an expert in religion or in other churches services as to what baptism or confirmation is,)
But what I was saying earlier, we were not allowed to go to movies, (although we did sneak in to see a funny movie or something like Pat Boone in April Love - back in the late 50's.) Why no movies, it was the morals that a lot of stars and actors kept and the lives they chose.
Similarly we were not permitted to dance - for similar reasons - as well as shall I say 'close dancing' could lead a young couple into something they were not permitted to do. Not to say that it didn't happen, but I am sure it helped many people get through some hormone anxious days in their youth.
But now they dance, and they go to movies - which I find I just cannot do even now. Why, because I was brought up to believe that I didn't need it and that it was not of good moral suasion.
Similarly, divorce was frowned upon, and it was not permitted to be divorced and get married again in church. Now we have new officers who are being accepted and have already been divorced, and serving officers getting divorced and after serving a requisite 'time out', are permitted to go back to the pulpit to preach. (This apparently applies to the innocent party - but who are we to judge, at least that is my humble opinion.)
Back to my first comments.
Our morals and ethics I feel have slipped some - I don't want us to be strict Victorians, but when a person feels they can have an excuse or 'justify' their actions then nobody can do much about it.
These people whether they be young, old, or in between, are only being deceitful, and they will justify their actions no matter what.
It is part of our human nature, and we are always being tempted, whether one is SA, non SA, band person, or non band person.
Ever since the beginning of time, humans have been tempted, and some will take the bait, and some will not so to speak.
If we loosen our morals and start to justify everything that 'we' think is okay, then we will choose to have a drink, a puff, or whatever.
We are only fooling ourselves, as I mentioned a Soldier signed a covenant, and as such they are going back on their word / signature. Same as a person who wants to mess around outside of marriage. Vows were taken, and if they are going to be broken, then the person who is breaking them is going to either justify it, or face the consequences.
Sad, but I find this is how societies seem to deal with things in their own ways these days - in my humble opinion.
Sorry for the run of words, but hope people can understand what I am trying to say here...
Happy New Year to all!
 

L J

Member
Side mark - SA bands, young people and ....

By the way, 'the pledge' must be a good thing, as my Granny signed it in 1920 and she's still going strong at (almost) 98! 'I think God forgot me' she says!

Bass Trumpet,
This is quite often the way a person of a mature age such as your Granny justifies their elderly years in that they think God forgot to 'call them home' so they say what your Granny said.
I give her top marks for being so loyal and faithful to God, herself and to TSA!
 

Cantonian

Active Member
But what I was saying earlier, we were not allowed to go to movies, (although we did sneak in to see a funny movie or something like Pat Boone in April Love - back in the late 50's.) Why no movies, it was the morals that a lot of stars and actors kept and the lives they chose.
Similarly we were not permitted to dance - for similar reasons - as well as shall I say 'close dancing' could lead a young couple into something they were not permitted to do. Not to say that it didn't happen, but I am sure it helped many people get through some hormone anxious days in their youth.
But now they dance, and they go to movies - which I find I just cannot do even now. Why, because I was brought up to believe that I didn't need it and that it was not of good moral suasion.
Similarly, divorce was frowned upon, and it was not permitted to be divorced and get married again in church. Now we have new officers who are being accepted and have already been divorced, and serving officers getting divorced and after serving a requisite 'time out', are permitted to go back to the pulpit to preach. (This apparently applies to the innocent party - but who are we to judge, at least that is my humble opinion.)
Back to my first comments.
Our morals and ethics I feel have slipped some - I don't want us to be strict Victorians, but when a person feels they can have an excuse or 'justify' their actions then nobody can do much about it.

I'm sorry LJ but if we want to perpetuate the Army and in particular its musical heritage linked to its evangelism we have to recognise that we are now in the 21st century not the 19th!

Society has changed immensely and I agree not all for the good, but we have to recognise that it has changed. If we do not change ourselves we will be defunct within 20 years.

I agree with a previous poster that some major decisions should be made but the difficulty is with the leadership who have imho led a sheltered life. Thus any radicality has disappeared in the 'grooming' for leadership.

In a democratic society why not carry out an anonymous census of all formal members of the Salvation Army. Questions such as do you or have you had alcoholic drinks and do you think the Army should relax its stance on this and other 'rules and regulations'. This will indicate to the Army's leadership persons true thoughts on issues which are contentious within the embracement of the Army.

Both in my workplace and in my banding outside of the Army, I try to get people to respect me as a Salvationist and Christian but also as an ordinary bloke not a member of a quaint Victorian social working organisation.
 

John Brooks

Well-Known Member
In my opinion, this is one of the best threads ever to appear on tMP. I'm a former Salvationist who still maintains fairly strong links to the S.A. My daughter plays flugel horn in Oshawa Temple Band and also sings in the songsters. My in-laws are retired officers. My best friend is in the ISB.

From that perspective, I've watched the S.A. make some significant and, at times controversial changes in recent years. For example: Married officers no longer need to be "officer couples" and one or the other can be a non-officer; Due to ever increasing costs, uniform wearing is (or is becoming) optional (not sure if this is universal or left to individual corps discretion); the Music policy has changed. There may be other examples, but these come to mind.

However, for all that has changed, some of the more fundamental aspects of S.A. policy such as Alcohol, Tobacco and Communion remain officially untouched, although the issue of communion has been "reviewed" fairly recently and the status quo continued.

Tobacco, which has so many health issues associated, is in my opinion, less clear. Today, there are strong social reasons speaking out against smoking. The policy re communion is, in my NOT so humble opinion, simply wrong!

Bringing this back to the specific topic, again in my opinion, the alcohol issue cannot be supported on a Scriptural basis. I believe strong arguments can be made for it to be left to personal discretion.

I like the suggestion that a poll be taken.
 

Red Elvis

Active Member
Still following this thread with interest - fair play to all concerned as it could have got pretty heated but has not done so !

The idea of a poll is an interesting one , although it used to be the case that O&R forbad such things in terms of running the SA , at least on a Corps level !

Also I note the comments about the current General who in some ways seems extremely traditionalist in his outlook , and dare I say a little more autocratic than previous office holders ( although in fairness the SA structure probably functions best as an autocracy and in many ways is similar to the Catholic church in terms of a hierarchical structure ).

Reading through the Thread again though , I am also minded to think of the many SA members I have come across in the contest scene who remain true to their commitments , and fair play to them . My last band had a large SA / Ex-SA contingent who could party with the best of us without compromising their covenants - hats off particularly to Alex the Flugel who with me was one of the last men standing in Jacks at Butlins last year , I somewhat swaying but he'd been on coke all night !! ( The soft drink by way !)
 

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