The Salvation Army's Position on Economic Justice
The Salvation Army believes that all people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and that we are to "love our neighbor as ourselves" (Matthew 22:39). We believe in the sacred freedom and dignity of persons and are committed to the redemption of the world in all its dimensions (physical, spiritual, social, economic and political). We believe that, as God's children, we are called to exercise a clear priority for the least among us (Matthew 25: 31-46).
The Salvation Army recognizes that poverty is a complex problem and that we will always have the poor with us (Mark 14:7). We are compelled by our love for God to serve "the whole person" (spirit, soul and body).
Jesus inaugurated his mission on earth by stating:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor"(Luke 4:18-19).
A vital component of The Salvation Army's mission is to "meet human need in His name without discrimination." The Army's commitment to economic justice was expressed in 1890 by the organization's founder, William Booth, in his "Cab Horse Charter:"
"... every Cab Horse in London has Three things: a shelter for the night, food for its stomach, and work allotted to it by which it can earn its corn. These are the two points of the Cab Horse's Charter. When he is down he is helped up, and while he lives he has food, shelter and work. That, although a humble standard, is at present absolutely unattainable by millions of our fellow men and women in this country."
Salvationists affirm the following principles:
- All people have a right to secure the basic necessities of life (e.g., food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, safe environment, economic security).
- All people have the right to economic initiative, to productive work, to just wages and benefits, and to decent working conditions.
- All people, to the extent they are able, have a corresponding duty to work, a responsibility to provide for the needs of their families, and an obligation to contribute to the broader society.
The Salvation Army believes that certain societal structures can perpetuate economic injustice and is committed to seek constructive changes in those structures wherever they exist. The Salvation Army endeavors to serve individuals in such a way that the spiritual and social dimensions of their needs are identified and addressed. In this approach we find the very essence of the Gospel expressed.
Recommended for approval by the Commissioners' Conference October 1998
Approved by International Headquarters March 1999