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Friday, January 30, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 24.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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Rule change was their Salvation
Major Paul Moore, with Major Sue Moore: 'I resigned to marry
my wife.'
Major Paul Moore, with Major Sue Moore: 'I resigned to marry my wife.'

Major Paul Moore knows just how it feels. He's been there himself.

"My situation was identical to his," says Moore, the Salvation Army's Dane County coordinator, referring to a recent high-profile case involving a fellow officer in Oshkosh.

Actually, it's a wee bit different.

Capt. Johnny Harsh was removed from his post as head of the Oshkosh Salvation Army after he announced his intention to marry a woman who was not herself a Salvation Army officer.

Salvation Army rules require that officers marry other officers. Moore explains that officers are ordained clergy, and are not considered employees. Officers are provided with furnished housing and other perks.

The Dane County Salvation Army has 60 employees, including both full and part time, and five officers. The organization is next year slated to receive just over $750,000 in funding from Dane County, as well as smaller amounts from the city and federal government.

Harsh, who has been with the Salvation Army for 14 years, including three at Oshkosh, had previously been married to a Salvation Army officer, who died suddenly of a heart attack in June. He met his current fiancée, "Cia," through a Christian online dating site.

Moore also lost his first wife suddenly, in a car accident, making him a single dad. He fell in love again, to a woman whose husband had left and divorced her. At the time, the Salvation Army did not allow divorced individuals to be ordained. Hence, they could not be officers and could not marry other officers.

And so Moore, then in the Chicago area, had to make a choice. He did.

"I resigned to marry my wife," he says. "Then I went back to work for the Salvation Army as its employee."

But three years later the Salvation Army changed its rules, allowing divorcees to be ordained. Moore says the rule change, which applied worldwide, was "basically because of our situation."

And so in 1987 Moore remarried, and was accepted back into the faith. His wife, Major Sue Moore, is now the local Salvation Army's director of special services.

Two other local officers, a Laotian couple, are also husband and wife.

Major Harsh's case has attracted national attention, in large part because Harsh has publicly challenged the Salvation Army's rules, which he says are manmade, not "Scriptural."

What does Major Moore think about the situation in Oshkosh?

"I feel both sides are right," he says. "They're just not able right now to find common ground."

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