Target bans Salvation Army again

Once again this year, Target Stores has banned the Salvation Army bell-ringers from their stores.  Instead the company is donating one million dollars to the charity, and other changes on offer by the company promise to make up much of the nine million dollars the charity used to raise each year in front of its stores, according to Salvation Army spokeswoman Melissa Temme.

Local supermarkets, Wal-Mart and other retailers don’t seem to have a problem with the Christian organization founded by William Booth to help the downtrodden, so why does Target?  Does the Salvation Army seem too downscale for Tar-zhay? Only the company knows. But at least it is making up some or most of the funds the bell ringers won’t be collecting.

A little history: William Booth found himself one day at the edge of the River.  The world is a better place for Booth taking the plunge into that River.

At the age of seventeen, Booth made a commitment to Christ and to humanity.  While he served for some time as a Methodist minister, he made the greatest impact on the poor of his native England by forming a movement in 1865 he called “The Christian Mission.”  He preached on the streets and in old warehouses.  Sometimes he faced ridicule, name-calling and stone-throwing; at other times, his hardships were rewarded with converts to the faith.  In 1878, he changed the name of The Christian Mission to The Salvation Army.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a trip to most stores will provide an opportunity to help families and individuals in need by dropping a few coins into a red kettle.  The bell ringing signals to our hearts that there is more to this season than buying the latest electronic gadget and gathering the most charming tree ornaments.  It is a time to aid in the salvation of lost and helpless souls, to help feed and cloth the needy among us.  A working man between jobs may benefit by having his family’s electric bill paid, or, a mother needing food for her children will find a box of canned goods, pasta and cereal waiting for her.

In a book written about the life of Booth, is recorded the topic of his very first sermon.  “He talked of little children learning to walk. He described how they toddled, and swayed, and came near to falling. He said how difficult a thing it was for little babes to learn the use of their legs, to trust their tiny feet, and to advance with courage.

And then he asked if any mother, watching her child’s first efforts to walk, would be cross with the infant’s failure, would shout at it when it swayed, would sit still, unmoved, when it fell and hurt itself. Then he said that it was just as difficult to live a true Christian life, and that we should always be on the look-out for helping people, especially those who were only just beginning to live that life.

He said it was wrong to judge them when they failed, and just as wrong to sit idle when they fell. We should run, and lift them up, and help them. Hard words would not help them; sitting still would not help them; we must go and do something to make it less hard for them to walk straight.”

Was Booth recognized as a religious pioneer and celebrated as such?  In his own words:

“The leading men in the Church to which I belonged were afraid I was going too fast, and gave me plenty of caution, quaking and fearing at every new departure, but never a word of encouragement to help me. But I went forward all the same.”

Bless God this Christmas that William Booth ‘went forward’.
If you experience technical problems, please write to