The Salvation Army needs to be saved … from itself

In this undated file photo, a Salvation Army volunteer rings the bell as a passer-by puts money in a red kettle at Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass.
In this undated file photo, a Salvation Army volunteer rings the bell as a passer-by puts money in a red kettle at Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass. | (Photo: AP Images / Chitose Suzuki)

It’s that time of year when our hearts are turned even more toward others. Loving our neighbors by helping those in need is always a beautiful pursuit. Who doesn’t want to slip in some money into those cute little Salvation Army red kettles outside a local store? I mean, aren’t they doing the most good?

Even during a very COVID 2020, the Salvation Army brought in $4.2 billion ($1 billion more than in 2019), of which $2.3 billion came from the public. Serving humankind in 131 countries and in so many ways, the Salvation Army is known for meeting human needs. But failing to distinguish between needs and wants has been leading the Salvation Army astray.

Many don’t realize that the Salvation Army (SA) is a Christian denomination — an evangelical one — which claims “to follow the mainstream of Christian belief.” SA Commissioner Kenneth 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.”

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That’s clearly not true.

The Salvation Army wholeheartedly promotes homosexuality and transgenderism. 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.

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.

“Our hiring practices are open to all, and we provide the same benefits to opposite-sex and same-sex couples,” SA boasts on its LGBTQ page. In a video celebrating how woke they are on human sexuality, SA’s Communications and Marketing Manager Ken Forsythe explains: “I’ve been with my now spouse for 14 and a half years. I’ve been accepted by my [SA] peers for who I am…No one’s trying to change me. No one’s trying to convert me.”

Isn’t this exactly what salvation does? The Salvation Army repeatedly invokes Christ’s love within the same sentences it condones behaviors that are contrary to His character and nature. Christ’s love is conversion. Otherwise, what’s the point? Who wants a Savior who doesn’t save? Who wants a Redeemer who doesn’t redeem?

It’s why we become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). As a sinner who needs continual grace and forgiveness, I understand all too well that sometimes our healing (for whatever brokenness we’re experiencing) isn’t always completed on this side of heaven.

In another Salvation Army video, a young man says in a childlike voice: “Even though I know I am a he, I feel like a she.” It’s heartbreaking. Meeting every human need cannot ignore the deeper spiritual need. You can’t merely fight material poverty. Spiritual poverty is far more devastating. When a Church embraces worldly approaches to solve problems of the soul, it misses vital opportunities to fully express Christ’s love.

The same can be applied toward SA’s tumble down the Critical Race Theory rabbit hole. Commissioner Hodder, in a desperate attempt to do some damage control on SA’s fully woke and morally broke “Let’s Talk About Racism” discussion guide, insisted SA believes only in the Bible. But it seems the bible he’s referring to is one comprised of the writings of the predictable Prophets of Perpetual Victimhood: Ibram X. Kendi, Jemar Tisby, Robin DiAngelo, Daniel Hill, Latasha Morrison, and more. These are just a handful of CRT racialists SA highly recommends in the PDF who seem more interested in selling a lie than offering salvation. Hodder says there seems to be “confusion” about the PDF. This is the same document, by the way, approved by a leader of the organization, General Brian Peddle. The intention was to encourage Salvation Army converts (called Salvationists) to discuss racism and then follow it up with a lament and repent response (well, only if you're white apparently). 

Here’s the kicker. SA defines racism as “The prejudiced treatment, stereotyping or discrimination of People of Color on the basis of race [aka only white people can be racist].” Then, mimicking Kendi’s absurd definition of racism, SA further explains: “Racism is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produce and normalizes racial inequities.”

Hodder declares: “Racism is totally incompatible with Christianity.”

Well, so is “anti-racism,” the spawn of Critical Race Theory that tries to give a racist worldview legitimacy. Kendi, the leading priest of the cult of “anti-racism,” doesn’t even believe in what he calls “Savior Theology.” He mocks evangelism, saying “we’re to bring them into the church, these people who are doing all these evil and sinful things, and heal them and save them. And once we’ve saved them, we’ve done our job. Anti-racists fundamentally reject savior theology. That goes right in line with racist ideals and racist theology…that type of theology breeds bigotry.”

So, a religion based on a Savior who loved us enough to rescue and redeem us from sin and calls us to share the Good News so that all may be saved is racist? The once-they-save-you-they-don’t-care-about-you is the equivalent of the favorite pro-abortion mantra: “You don’t care about children after they’re born.” Both are pathetic lies.

What does Kendi believe in? Unbiblical Liberation Theology. He preaches that “Jesus was a revolutionary” who came to “revolutionize society.” He continues: “The job of the Christian is to liberate society from the powers on earth that are oppressing humanity.” This comes from the Father of Black Liberation Theology, James Cone, who doesn’t believe that Christ died to atone for our sins. He, of course, is also recommended reading in the now purged SA’s “Let’s Talk About Racism” PDF. (See an uploaded copy of it here.)

Why would the Salvation Army promote people and toxic ideologies that are so hostile to their very DNA? Did I mention that the Salvation Army USA’s executive leadership is all white? Should they all do the equitable CRT thing and give up their positions to people of other colors? #StructuralRacism.

I only wish SA would take a firm stance on abortion like they have on the sin of racism. I wish they would be unequivocal in their defense of unborn human life as they are, tragically, with their denial of basic biology and biblically indefensible positions on gender identity and sexual orientation. SA asserts that “we’re all made in the image of God” and that “life is sacred” but then goes on to give many examples of justifiable abortion violence. Racism is totally incompatible with Christianity, but abortion…well, yes, there are times when killing the innocent is okay.

The next time you’re shopping, and you hear that familiar bell ringing, may it be a reminder that the red kettle is identifying as something quite different these days.

Ryan Bomberger is the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of The Radiance Foundation. He is happily married to his best friend, Bethany, who is the Executive Director of Radiance. They are adoptive parents with four awesome kiddos. Ryan is an Emmy Award-winning creative professional, factivist, international public speaker and author of NOT EQUAL: CIVIL RIGHTS GONE WRONG. He loves illuminating that every human life has purpose.

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