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Salvation Army responds to allegations of embracing CRT, decries 'war on Christmas and the poor'

Salvation Army
A Salvation Army bell ringer amid the COVID-19 pandemic. |

The national commander of The Salvation Army is accusing an advocacy organization of waging a “war on Christmas and the poor” by publicizing the charity’s apparent embrace of critical race theory, thereby causing the faith-based organization to lose support.

On Saturday, Commissioner Kenneth Hodder, national commander of The Salvation Army, posted a video accompanied by the caption “Kenny Xu’s War on Christmas and the Poor” on his Twitter account. The video features Hodder addressing the controversy surrounding a document titled “Let’s Talk About Racism.” 

Portrayed by the charity as a “resource developed to guide The Salvation Army family in gracious discussions about overcoming the damage racism has inflicted upon our world,” the document was strongly condemned by the advocacy group Color Us United, which advocates for a “race-blind America” and works to push back on “those claiming America is racist or by those who simply want to undermine America’s fundamental principles of freedom.”

The resource took issue with the idea that the U.S. is a “post-racial society” and cited works authored by prominent advocates of critical race theory as recommended reading.

Encyclopedia Brittanica defines critical race theory as an “intellectual and social movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color.”

But such definitions of CRT that fail to mention its Marxist roots are denying reality, according to Paul Kengor, professor of political science and chief academic fellow of the Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College. 

Kengor noted in an op-ed published in The Christian Post that the origins of CRT are the "Frankfurt School, Freudo-Marxism.” He further implored academics to "explain what CRT is and isn’t. Most of all, rejecting CRT doesn’t mean rejecting talking about racial discrimination. It didn’t in the past and it won’t in the future.

"Until then, in the spirit of Marxism, critical race theory will do what it does: divide people. We need to unite people around what is true," Kengor added. 

In response to the onslaught of criticism, The Salvation Army document has since been removed from its website.

Color Us United launched a petition designed to “keep The Salvation Army focused on its good works and prevent it from going woke.” As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition has gathered nearly 18,000 signatures out of a goal of 25,000. Additionally, the advocacy group has started the #JustSayIt campaign, urging the charity to explicitly declare that America is not a racist country. 

Hodder began the video by elaborating on his interactions with Kenny Xu, president of Color Us United. “A couple of months ago, my wife and I hosted Kenny Xu and one of his colleagues from Color Us United at our national headquarters for lunch,” Hodder recalled. We knew they had questions about the Salvation Army and we were happy to answer them.”

“We shared some history outlining the Army’s beliefs, described its commitment to service and even talked a bit about the deep personal satisfaction that my wife and I have found in our 33 years of ministry. Above all, we made it clear that the Salvation Army has never been about politics, we are not on the left and we are not on the right.”

Hodder lamented that Xu alleged in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that “an internal coalition of woke ideologues now endangers the organization’s representation.”

After noting that “Mr. Xu calls upon the Salvation Army to say that America is not a racist country,” Hodder insisted that making such a statement was not necessary because “we’ve never said otherwise.” Additionally, he accused Color Us United of engaging in “a campaign to discredit the Salvation Army and dissuade the public from supporting our work.”

“Frankly, these attacks have left me angry not because of what they might mean for the Salvation Army but because I know what they could mean to those who are hungry, to families who are at risk of losing their homes and to the survivors of natural disasters,” he said. “Mr. Xu has also called for the Salvation Army to eliminate positions focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. That’s not going to happen,” Hodder declared.

Hodder defended “the work of ensuring equal opportunity and treatment within the Salvation Army” as “far too important not to be intentional about.” 

“Color Us United has misrepresented a short-lived discussion guide in order to fabricate political claims and further its own agenda. It’s wrong and it’s reckless,” Hodder maintained.

“We have never said that America is a racist country. We have never said that our donors should apologize for the color of their skin and we have never endorsed a political or social ideology other than that found in the Bible.” 

Xu addressed a letter to Hodder in response to the video, pushing back on the idea that he is working to discredit and damage the reputation of the Salvation Army. “Our team watched your video with sadness,” he wrote in the letter. “Our respect for The Salvation Army is immense. We fully support all the good work TSA has done for decades. Rather than harm TSA, we want to prevent divisive woke programs from causing its internal demise vis a vis an overt and unnecessary fixation on race.”

“We are merely a messenger for concerned Salvationists. They see the imposition of [diversity, equity and inclusion] trainings and narratives onto TSA as damaging to the camaraderie among Salvationists and the implementation of programs,” he added. 

Addressing Hodder’s refusal to explicitly proclaim that the U.S. is not a racist country, Xu said: “We are truly saddened that you cannot bring yourself to say America is not a racist country. You proclaim you never said America is a racist country. Yet, you cannot make a positive statement about this great country that has strongly supported TSA for over 100 years.” 

A poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports and RMG Research on behalf of Color Us United earlier this month revealed that the embrace of critical race theory has had a negative impact on the view of The Salvation Army among donors and members of the general public. 

Specifically, the survey found that the charity’s favorability ratings dropped from 81% to 41% when respondents were informed about the “Let’s Talk About Racism” campaign. Thirty-two percent of those surveyed said the charity’s embrace of “Let’s Talk About Racism” made them less likely to donate. 

In an exclusive column for CP, Ryan Bomberger, the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of The Radiance Foundation, noted: "Many don’t realize that The Salvation Army is a Christian denomination — an Evangelical one — which claims “to follow the mainstream of Christian belief.” ... Hodder recently and emphatically proclaimed in an online video: “Let me be clear. We believe only in the Bible. We endorse no social philosophy, and we never will."

"The Salvation Army wholeheartedly promotes homosexuality and transgenderism," Bomberger asserted. "In fact, on their website, they go out of their way to highlight their unquestionable support of all things LGBTQ. I love that they serve anyone in need regardless of who they are (or who they think they are). The Bible teaches us to love every human being but not every human doing.

However, he lamented that: "Without offering any scriptural support, SA features numerous videos expressing their embrace of same-sex marriage and gender confusion. Interestingly, these are offered below the banner 'HEAR OUR TRUTH.' Well, therein lies the problem. There isn’t your truth, my truth, or our truth … just the Truth. Back in 2012, the Salvation Army was biblical about its position on marriage and sexuality, signing an Open Letter on Marriage and Religious Freedom. Today, they’re clearly political; it makes those big corporate partnerships possible. They not only endorse the social philosophy of Queer Theory (not my terminology but the academic label), they champion it. This isn’t mainstream Christian belief.

"The Salvation Army is known for meeting human needs. But failing to distinguish between needs and wants has been leading the Salvation Army astray."

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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