Salvation Army bellringers are as familiar during the Christmas season as trees that light windows but now the ministry is embroiled in a critical race theory controversy.
The 156-year-old organization, which serves at-risk communities across the nation and world, is being criticized for its “Let’s Talk About Racism” guidelines. The curriculum, meant to be used by churches and staff, says Christians must view race and others through an “anti-racist” lens while incorporating Critical Race Theory and the language of CRT such as “equity.”
“Stop trying to be ‘colorblind,'” the guide states. “While this might sound helpful, it actually ignores the God-given differences we all possess, as well as the beautiful cultures of our Black and Brown brothers and sisters. Instead of trying to be colorblind, try seeing the beauty in our differences, and welcome them into your homes, churches and workplaces.”
Under the “resources” section, the guide lists books from authors such as Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo.
That’s troublesome for those who note The Salvation Army has been a leader in confronting racism long before the rest of the country and over five decades before the civil rights movement. And they’re asking why then should members of an organization built by the Christian faith to actually assist people of all races in need, be repentant of behavior they never perpetuated?
“In my estimation, CRT is a Trojan horse taking in well-intentioned Christian enterprises that—because they care about justice and oppose oppression—naively promote the most serious threat to biblical Christianity I have seen in 50 years,” wrote Christian radio talk show host Greg Koukl in a Facebook post earlier this month.
Entitled An Open Letter to The Salvation Army, Koukl prefaces the post by informing TSA that he is terminating his monthly donations and directing them to another organization. Koukl is also the founder and president of the Stand to Reason, a non-profit religious organization that “trains Christians to think more clearly about their faith and to make an even-handed defense for classical Christianity.”
“There is a massive number of academics—Black and white, Christian and non-Christian, atheist and theist—who have raised the alarm against the aggressive indoctrination and, frankly, bullying of CRT—not to mention the racial essentialism inherent in the view, the false witness it bears against virtuous people, and the general destruction it continues to wreak on race relations in this country. CRT has set us back 50 years,” he continued.
Koukl isn’t the only one that’s voiced his concerns over the new training created through TSA’s International Social Justice Commission. It was last July that it was disseminated through emails, videos, devotionals and other materials to field officers serving poor communities across the U.S. by the organization’s four territorial commanders.
Active officers in the Salvation Army‘s western territory were trained in matters of racial equity in a compulsory manner in January. The agenda for the Territorial Virtual Officers’ Councils on Racial Equity workshop mirrored the “Let’s Talk About Racism” resource put out by the Commission and was required of current officers.
General Brian Peddle, CEO of The Salvation Army announced the initiative in February through a video in which he said “it examines racism through the lens of scripture, church and world history and guides gracious discussions about overcoming the damage racism has inflicted upon our world and yes, on our Salvation Army.”
“As we anticipate having courageous conversations about race please join me in working toward a world in which all people feel included, valued and loved on Earth just as they are in heaven,” Peddle stated in the one-minute video.
But a commentary by author Kenny Xu published last month addressed what he described as the Commission “unhealthily mixing admirable human rights works with politically charged advocacy based in politics.”
Xu, who is also the president of Color Us United—an organization that advocates for a race-blind America—noted terms that “echo both radical ‘anti-racism’ jargon and divisive teachings of critical race theory” in the materials prepared for The Salvation Army’s more than 1.7 million members. It’s terminology that Xu notes, “divides people into two camps: the oppressors and the oppressed.”
“In some aspects, the materials are indistinguishable from the ‘anti-racist’ programs of any multinational corporation, or the expounding of critical race theory at a major university,” wrote Xu, noting that “Let’s Talk About Racism” accuses white Salvationists of being unable or unwilling to acknowledge their racism. He also noted its encouragement for whites to read Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility and Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist.
But as Xu reminds readers in his piece, “the Gospel itself is colorblind.”
“Despite what the church’s International Social Justice Commission says, ordinary members of The Salvation Army are committed to a colorblind perspective, and admirably so,” he wrote, noting that faithful Salvationists recognize this. Xu also contends that an individual’s perspective of social justice analysis doesn’t necessarily correspond to the Christian ethic of individual salvation.
Xu questioned why the traditionally a-political Salvation Army would begin to promote such political and racial ideologies to begin with, which led him to organize a petition, co-written by Salvation Army captains and sponsored through Color Us United. It asks those to “stand against the insertion of politically charged racial ideologies into The Salvation Army’s good work.”
The appeal, calling for a revocation of the “Let’s Talk About Racism” curriculum, currently has 12,200 signatures from members and donors rejecting what they consider a “woke script.”
–Newsweek wire service