[On Christian Bigots and the Salvation Army]
The Theosophist, March, 1882
Article Selections from “The Amazons of the Lord” | Note and Closing Paragraphs by H.P.B.*
[* This article is unsigned in The Theosophist. In The Collected Writings of H. P. Blavatsky, Vol. 4, p. 32, the final three paragraphs of the article are given as having come from the pen of H.P.B.; to this we also add the footnote from H.P.B. which is there omitted.]
The “Salvation Army,” the new Christian revivalist party, composed of hysterical females and gentlemen of questionable sanity, and even reputation, may win many a “bloody victory” against the Devil, but no one would think of denying that in Europe and America, it is fast becoming a nuisance. Add to this the fact that there is hardly a paper in the localities infested by these fanatics, but is reporting cases of salvationists being brought into court to answer charges—some of which no decent person would care to be arraigned upon, and an idea can be formed of the degree of holiness that is attached to this howling and vociferating mob of zealots. The fact is that under the pretext of “saving souls” they are tearing to shreds the last bits of the reputation left to popular Christianity by the late Revisers of the Bible. The Salvation Army is simply a libel upon true religion. . . .
. . . It may be a useful precaution . . . to reprint extracts from the speech delivered by this new Amazon of the Lord . . . The Gazette writer fails not to fling en passant at the Theosophists (who do not believe in “miracles” and laugh at the very name) one of the many stupid accusations invented by their enemies, known to be a falsehood, yet readily caught up and maintained by the papers, which can thrive but by flattering public prejudices.
“After the ‘General’ and several of her brother and sister officers have described some miracles which they claim to have performed, but of which no details are given, Mrs. Booth comes on the platform. ‘I was thinking,’ she says ‘as our friends were speaking, that people say the age of miracles is past, but you see it has not. If it had, it has come back again. You have been hearing records of quite as wonderful things as anything recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, and, with my own eyes and ears, I have verified a good many of the statements to which you have listened.’ The Theosophists will have to look to their laurels on the arrival of Mrs. Booth’s detachment of the ‘Salvation Army.’ The little tricks by which they have succeeded in astonishing the natives are bien peu de chose in comparison with the miracles of the apostles and those ‘quite as wonderful’ of Mrs. Booth and her disciples,1 he adds. . . .
1. We would thank the writer to inform us when the “Theosophists” have claimed “laurels” for any such absurdity. We leave belief in “miracles” to the Christian bigots, and their tacit admission—silence implying consent;—to those who, thought widely known in private circles as unbelievers and even atheists, can never find the moral courage to confess their unbelief publicly. These revenge themselves on Spiritualists and Theosophists who deny that any thing Supernatural can every take place; but they will never dare to laugh publicly or express a doubt concerning Christian, biblical “miracles.” But when has a base and cowardly majority ever failed to take advantage of honest and courageous minority!—Ed. [H.P.B.]
. . . Mrs. Booth concludes her speech by an appeal to the pockets of her audience. “I hope,” she says, “we shall have some thousands of pounds sent in for the Salvation Temple. What,” she exclaims, “if this should be the dawning of that day which shall culminate in the temple on the top of the mountains, which all nations are to flow unto, and bring all their treasures and lay them at the feet of the King of Kings!” or in other words, I presume, pay the said treasures into some bank to the credit of Mrs. B. and her brother and sister officers, the self-appointed, or divinely appointed, secretaries and treasurers. To stimulate her hearers to the realization of this ecstatic financial vision, she gives a glowing description of what the promised temple is and is not to be. “It shall,” she says, “be a Salvation Temple. We will have no bosh in it, no hodge-podge, no mongrel Christianity, no starch. We will have Salvation in it, and only Salvation. Salvation all the way up and right to the end, all day and all night, for ever while it stands, God helping us. Out with your offering! Here is a chance for you to sell your houses and lands and put your money into God’s Salvation Temple. I shall expect a good many offerings by the first post tomorrow morning. Amen!”
The correspondent laughs at this; we do not, for we have studied history and believe in cycles and recurring events. To buy the right of caricaturing the Jesuits, society had to spend the lives of fifty millions of human beings burnt alive, tortured to death, and otherwise killed during that period of Christianity when the Church reigned supreme.
The ancestors of “Don Basilio,” Rosina’s music teacher, have a bloody record, which oceans of witty jokes can hardly obliterate. Cruelty is the child of fanaticism, and history is full of examples of the children of martyrs of one kind or another having become oppressors and tyrants. Nay, the very martyrs of a majority themselves, have often been known to turn around when the smart of their own sufferings had been forgotten in the flush of subsequent triumph, and to bully, wrong, or torture a new generation of heterodox. Of all cruel bigots, the Spanish Catholics have, perhaps, earned the most shameful reputation. Their savagery towards the Jews and heretics in Spain, and the wild Indians of their new-found Americas, makes a dark blot upon the history of the race. Says Major J. W. Powell, U.S.A., the illustrious explorer of the Colorado river:—
“Those old Spanish conquerors had a monstrous greed for gold, and a wonderful lust for saving souls. Treasures they must have; if not on earth, why, then, in heave; and when they failed to find heathen temples bedecked with silver, they propitiated Heaven, by squeezing the heathens themselves. There is yet extant a copy of a record, made by a heathen artist, to express his conceptions of the demands of the conquerors. In one part of the picture we have a lake, and, near by, stands a priest pouring water on the head of a native. On the other side, a poor Indian has a cord about his throat. Lines from the these two groups, to a central figure, a man with beard and full Spanish panoply. The interpretation of the picture-writing is this: ‘Be Baptized, as this saved heathen; or be hanged as that damned heathen.’”
How much less ready to do so, are they of the “Salvation Army”? Were not the strong hand of modern law efficient to repress these “red-hot, blood-and-fire soldiers,” they would not only menacingly hiss but might also burn.