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MCCLURE v. SALVATION ARMY

March 8, 1971

Mrs. Billie B. McClure, Plaintiff
v.
The Salvation Army, Defendant


O'Kelley, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'KELLEY

O'KELLEY, D.J.

The plaintiff, a female officer of the Salvation Army, filed a Complaint pursuant to Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e.

 The defendant has filed its answer, and along with that, a motion to dismiss for want of jurisdiction, inter alia. It argues that it is a religious body or society as contemplated by the statute codified in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-1 and that its activities and those of the officers of the Army are religious in nature and thus exempt under the law.

 The pertinent part of that section reads:

 
"This title shall not apply . . . to a religious corporation, association, or society with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association or society of its religious activities . . ."

 A hearing was held as to that issue on November 23, 1970, and the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law based upon the evidence presented at that time.

 I. FINDINGS OF FACT

 The defendant is a corporation organized in 1927 under the laws of the State of Georgia and formed for the purpose of the location of a church in the County of Fulton, State of Georgia, and for the purpose of promoting the cause of Christian religion, charity and education in other localities throughout the State of Georgia and elsewhere. The Southern Territory of The Salvation Army extends from the border of Pennsylvania down to Guatemala in Central America and is composed of eleven divisions. A division is commanded by a division commander who has a staff and who is responsible to the Territorial Headquarters which for the Southern Territory is located in Atlanta, Georgia. Under the divisions there are corps ranging in number from seven to fifty. There are many corps within the Southern Territory.

 The Salvation Army Corps is a family center for the dissemination of the Gospel, for the development of Christian life, and for the outreach in the particular community in which it is located. It is similar to any other church. It has a senior segment, a youth segment or Christian education department, and many other things that other churches have, including a structure for leadership training, and emergency training for disasters. The commanding officer of a corps acts as the "pastor" of the corps, but both the corps commander and every other officer of the Army stationed in the locality perform the function of preaching to the congregation.

 The defendant conducts a Daily Vacation Bible School, which is also a normal church function. There is a Home League Department which is the equivalent of training for home service and is particularly for married women. There are senior citizens' clubs in practically every corps. There is also a Salvation Army band unit and a chorus in most of the corps. There is a group of local officers in most corps known as the Corps Council. There is also a group known as the Census Board which operates the affairs of the corps.

 The corps is also called upon to do many things outside of its preaching ministry. There is a regular program for the visitation of homes. Food is provided to the needy and referrals of the sick are made to doctors and hospitals and other charitable functions.

 There are approximately 1300 officers serving in the Southern Territory. An officer is one who has first received a divine call from God and has been accepted and trained and commissioned as a Salvation Army officer. Being commissioned in The Salvation Army is the equivalent to ordination. Officers of The Salvation Army are not permitted to have any outside employment whatever. Training of the officer consists of a two-year session of training. The officer is equivalent to the clergy of the church and can perform the four major ceremonies of the Army which include the swearing in of soldiers, performing marriages, burials and dedication of children. Salvation Army officers have served as chaplains in World War I, World War II and in Vietnam.

 While The Salvation Army officer is equivalent to the clergy of another church, the Salvation Army soldier is equivalent to the laity of another church. The Salvation Army has various steps that one must take before coming to soldiership. A person who is not affiliated with any church, who does not claim the Christian experience, must first go through a training program, called training for senior soldiership. Soldier applicants must become familiar with the doctrines, the steps that a person must take before becoming a Christian, must undergo a preliminary probation time, be reviewed by a census board, and then be accepted as a soldier in a ceremony conducted at a public meeting under The Salvation Army flag and under the flag of the Country. This is called the swearing-in ceremony and is used by The Salvation Army as its form of acceptance into the church. A soldier is a layman and can be any person of any background in the community.

 A person who does not have any other church affiliation, but is not prepared to make a commitment for Christian service and witness as a Christian, but who wants to have his name on a church roll for the purpose of burial, is known as an "adherent." In addition to adherents, there are persons known as "friends" who attend The Salvation Army services, but never become affiliated in any way. Numerous others are affiliated with the Army as "volunteers," lending moral support to The Salvation Army through membership on Advisory Boards and Women's Auxiliaries.

 There is also a classification known as "employees," of which there are approximately 3,000 in the Southern Territory. Employees may be of any race, any background, any origin, and they generally bring with them certain needed skills, ranging from doctors ...


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