Love May Cost Salvation Army Leader His Job
WAUWATOSA - For three years, Captain Johnny Harsh ran the Salvation Army in Oshkosh, but the agency suspended him, because he plans to marry a woman not affiliated with the organization.
Salvation Army rules say officers must marry other officers in order to keep their leadership roles.
In a phone interview with TODAY'S TMJ4, Captain Harsh admitted that he is breaking the group's rules.
TODAY'S TMJ4's Shelley Walcott: "Why is it so important to marry a woman who would cost you your job?"
"Because I'm in love with her Shelley," Captain Harsh said.
Captain Harsh's first wife died of a heart attack last June. She was a Salvation Army officer.
Major Robert Thomson, Salvation Army Divisional Commander for Wisconsin and Upper Michigan says among Salvation Army officers, both husband and wife must be ordained ministers. He's says it's a rule that's been in place for generations.
"We've done it this way since 1865 and it has proven to be very successful," Major Thomson said.
The Salvation Army did not even want Captain Harsh's fiance to stay in a guest room at his Oshkosh home, a home the group helps finance.
"That's the rule that expedited this termination," said Captain Harsh.
The captain has heard from several people who think the marriage rule is terribly outdated. In spite of that, he's still urging people to support the Salvation Army.
"I have had people tell me, who have heard this on the news, 'Well I'll never give to the Salvation Army again,' and please, anyone who hears these words don't do that. Your money is very much needed this time of the year," Captain Harsh said.
Salvation Army leaders will decide next week whether Captain Harsh will be terminated.
If he loses his job, Captain Harsh says he plans to start a non-denominational church in Waukesha.