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Salvation Army Responds to 'CRT' Criticism: 'The Mission of the Salvation Army Is to Preach the Gospel of Jesus'

12-03-2021
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Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder is the national commander of The Salvation Army USA. (Screenshot credit: Salvation Army/CBN News)

ABOVE: Commissioner Kenneth Hodder, the national commander of the Salvation Army in the United States told CBN News during an interview Friday that the charity organization's "emphasis is the gospel of Christ." 

The Salvation Army is trying to move forward with its Christmas campaign after responding to accusations that it promoted "Critical Race Theory" in training material.

Some groups such as "Color Us United" want to continue the controversy, pushing for the Salvation Army to apologize for the material and to assert "that America is not a racist country". While donors are withdrawing support over the issue, the 156-year-old charity maintains it will not be drawn into a political debate.

In an interview with CBN News, the Salvation Army is once again rejecting the accusations that it went woke earlier this year, saying that was never their intent and that helping people in need remains their mission. 

When asked if the Salvation Army promotes or supports the idea of Critical Race Theory, Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder, the national commander of the ministry in the USA, told CBN News, "The Salvation Army today is the same Salvation Army that people have known since its inception 156 years ago. We endorse no theory, no philosophy other than that found in the Scriptures."

"The mission of the Salvation Army is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and meet human needs in his name without discrimination," Hodder added. "That's never changed and it's not going to change in the days to come."

The ministry recently announced it has removed its "Let's Talk About Racism" document from its website after critics said the guide promoted Critical Race Theory by challenging the church and "White Americans" not to be racist.

Hodder told CBN News the Salvation Army normally publishes discussion guides for its people to help prepare them to respond to the issues that they encounter in the world. 

"Clearly that document was causing confusion amongst our people and externally," the national commander explained. "We've removed it for review and we'll put something up in the future that is closely aligned to the mission statement that I referred to earlier." 

CBN News asked Hodder if some of the donors who had pledged not to give to the Salvation Army's Christmas Red Kettle campaign this year had been drawn back into a conversation with the charity organization due to its swift response. 

"I think the most important thing to emphasize is that the people we serve are the point of the Christmas kettle campaign," he answered. "And whenever there is a drop in that campaign, it impacts people who rely upon the Salvation Army, not only at Christmas but throughout the year."

"We are working very hard with our supporters to explain the situation," Hodder said. "And we're getting a good response. So we have every hope that the Lord is going to continue to bless the work of the Army, and we'll be able to help millions of people this Christmas."

The Army's national commander has said before he will not let this controversy draw himself or the organization into a political discussion. 

He told CBN News what he meant by that statement. 

"The Salvation Army is not going to take positions on things like CRT. It's not going to take positions on social theories. Once you go down that road, once you are bullied into making statements that are perceived as being on one side of the political spectrum as opposed to another, it's impossible to extricate yourself," Hodder explained. 

"Our emphasis is the gospel of Christ," he noted. "Our focus is to make sure that Christ is seen. That Christ is felt and understood. And we're going to stay right on that message in the days to come." 

The ministry had responded to several allegations in a Nov. 25 statement saying, "Those claims are simply false, and they distort the very goal of our work."

"Elements of the recently issued 'Let's Talk About Racism' guide led some to believe we think they should apologize for the color of their skin, or that The Salvation Army may have abandoned its Biblical beliefs for another philosophy or ideology. That was never our intention, so the guide has been removed for appropriate review," the ministry said. 

The ministry went on to remind its critics of its mission statement. 

"The holidays are a welcome reminder of the things we are grateful for—and for the power of service on behalf of those who are less fortunate. The Salvation Army mission statement clearly outlines the nature of our service:  to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination. The beliefs that motivate our service are based solely on the Bible, and that will never change," the charity stated. 

The organization added that it remains committed to serving everyone. "But although we remain committed to serving everyone in need—regardless of their beliefs, backgrounds, or lifestyle—some individuals and groups have recently attempted to mislabel our organization to serve their own agendas. They have claimed that we believe our donors should apologize for their skin color, that The Salvation Army believes America is an inherently racist society, and that we have abandoned our Christian faith for one ideology or another," the statement continued. 

The Salvation Army said it believes "racism is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity, and that we are called by God to work toward a world where all people are loved, accepted, and valued."

The ministry said their message is one of love, modeled by Jesus Christ.

"We at The Salvation Army remain undeterred in our mission because we are confident in the power of the gospel, and because millions of vulnerable Americans need our help. And we remain deeply grateful for the support of a generous public—people from all walks of life and from all parts of the country—who help us meet human need wherever it exists. Our supporters know that ours is a message of love, even for those who disagree or attack us. That is the model set by Christ, and we strive to follow it every day," the statement said. 

"May God bless you, and Merry Christmas," the statement concluded.

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