This is normally the time of year when Salvation Army fundraisers stand outside stores with their red kettles, hoping to inspire goodwill while ringing bells and asking for donations. But this year the aid group is under fire for accusations of wokeness because some critics say it promoted Critical Race Theory by challenging the church and "White Americans" not to be racist.
The Salvation Army is saying the flap over its "Let's Talk About Racism" guide has been a misunderstanding. The guide said the group hopes Christians will "lament, repent and apologize for biases or racist ideologies held and actions committed."
"There is an urgent need for Christians to evaluate racist attitudes and practices in light of our faith and to live faithfully in today's world," the statement continued.
Additionally, the guide contended that "White culture" should strive to overcome "denial of racism" and "defensiveness about race." It also stated that "White Americans" need to "stop trying to be 'colorblind.'"
The guide said, "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."
Is the Salvation Army Pushing CRT?
The news outlet Newsweek reports the racism guide indicates Salvation Army has shifted to the left, saying, "In a nutshell, its curriculum outlines the Christian church's alleged racial collusion and provides action steps to analyze and combat racism through an 'anti-racist' lens while incorporating Critical Race Theory."
Christian apologetics expert Greg Koukl, the founder of Stand to Reason, said it's wrong to connect Critical Race Theory (CRT) with the church. Koukl wrote on Facebook, "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."
He continued, "To be clear, I am not claiming there is no racism to be dealt with or are no racist Christians who need to repent. What I am saying is that critical race theory is not an accurate characterization of contemporary racial dynamics in America (as many have argued). Therefore, since its analysis is faulty, it offers a faulty solution, one that creates a whole set of new racial tensions and provides no productive resolution to them."
Salvation Army Defends and Clarifies
The Salvation Army argues that its guide, "Let's Talk About Racism," was meant to encourage discussion about discrimination among members of the organization, rather than an attempt to indoctrinate or tell its donors what to think.
The 156-year-old organization responded to the backlash in a statement released on Thanksgiving Day.
"The Salvation Army occasionally publishes internal study guides on various complex topics to help foster positive conversations and grace-filled reflection among Salvationists," the statement reads. "By openly discussing these issues, we always hope to encourage the development of a more thoughtful organization that is better positioned to support those in need. But no one is being told how to think. Period."
The sensationalist claims that The Salvation Army has entered a political war are simply not true. Please see our response here: https://t.co/xnrARVTRnn
— Salvation Army USA (@SalvationArmyUS) November 27, 2021
It also denied suggesting that the U.S. is essentially racist and that people should apologize for their skin color.
The organization did acknowledge that elements of the study guide needed clarification and it has now been withdrawn for appropriate review.
Despite the unintended controversy, the charity maintains that its message is based on biblical values, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and serve those in need.
"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 concludes.