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In America, the S.A. began rehabilitating their image at the turn of the century by doing awesome relief work after the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the San Francisco Quake of '06. (Before that, they were working to help boozers, prostitutes and drug addicts get their shit together—scarcely reputable activities for a spiritual organization.)
But the U.S. branch of the Army was still pretty far out well into the 20th century. They used to get arrested a lot for speaking without a permit: Their ideology forbade them from trucking with corrupt earthly authorities like town clerks with rubber stamps. The case law generated by those arrests actually played a significant part in expanding the legal meanings of the First Amendment.
So take heart, peculiar sectarians: Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.