Rather than rescind racially divisive training material in response to objections from members and donors, The Salvation Army is concealing the internal curriculum during its annual Christmas fundraising campaign while continuing to pursue “politically charged racial ideologies,” an outside group alleges.
The petition argues that the curriculum, advanced through The Salvation Army’s New York-based International Social Justice Commission, shows that the faith-based charity has veered off into a “woke ideology” that jeopardizes its mission.
“The Salvation Army is the antithesis of a racist organization,” Kenny Xu, president of Color Us United and a contributor to The Daily Signal, said in an email. “In fact, it is a shining example of how charitable and colorblind America is. That’s why we launched this campaign. We want to save The Salvation Army from succumbing to divisive race-based policies.”
On Thanksgiving Day, six days after The Daily Signal began making inquiries about the “Let’s Talk About Racism” training materials, The Salvation Army released a statement challenging what it described as “false claims” about the materials.
The curriculum “was issued as a voluntary resource,” The Salvation Army said, but has “become a focus of controversy.”
The Salvation Army said its international headquarters concluded that “certain aspects [of the curriculum] may need to be clarified,” and its International Social Justice Commission decided to withdraw the training materials “for appropriate review.”
As of Thursday, the petition organized by Color Us United, which describes itself as devoted to “colorblind” principles, had gathered nearly 15,000 signatures protesting the racism training materials for The Salvation Army’s 1.8 million members worldwide.
Color Us United will produce digital ads that call on Kenneth Hodder, national commander for The Salvation Army USA, to “assert that America is not a racist country,” Xu said Wednesday during an online press conference.
Xu presented what he described as “incontrovertible, documented evidence” that The Salvation Army, contrary to its recent statements, has been “covering up” the use of racially divisive materials such as critical race theory as part of its training curriculum.
‘Ultimately, It Matters’
Christian Watson, a spokesman for Color Us United, told reporters that The Salvation Army’s most recent statements don’t square with the evidence the outside group accumulated.
“They say we’re mischaracterizing and we’re sensationalizing, but none of their statements actually prove how we’re doing that,” Watson said.
“Ultimately, it matters how the rank and file feel, and how the donors of The Salvation Army feel,” he said. “We’ve had many people email us and tell us they’ve been donating to The Salvation Army for a very long time but because of this critical race theory, ‘We’re going to stop, we’re not going to do it anymore.’”
Color Us United, Xu said, is asking The Salvation Army to abolish the training curriculum, apologize for it, and state that America is not racist.
About 300 of those who signed the group’s petition identified themselves as “officers” or “soldiers” of The Salvation Army, according to Color Us United.
Color Us United’s Xu wrote an exclusive Oct. 3 commentary for The Daily Signal exposing and decrying the curriculum.
He told The Daily Signal that someone removed the curriculum from The Salvation Army’s website about a month later, on Oct. 29. It previously was available here.
The Daily Signal last week asked Hodder, the national commander, for information on who took down the curriculum and why.
In an email reply Wednesday evening, Hodder wrote:
While the resource was never a replacement for our position statement on racism, our policies, or our mission, there has been some confusion which has led to misleading and heated discourse. Therefore, The Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission took down the resource in an effort to review its contents while listening and addressing the worries of concerned parties.
The Salvation Army has acknowledged but not otherwise responded to The Daily Signal’s requests for comment on Color Us United’s press conference, including announcement of the ad campaign.
‘Claims Simply False’
In its Thanksgiving Day statement titled “The Salvation Army’s Response to False Claims on the Topic of Racism,” the faith-based charity asserts that “some individuals and groups have recently attempted to mislabel our organization to serve their own agendas.”
These unnamed individuals and groups, it says, “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.”
“Those claims are simply false, and they distort the very goal of our work,” the statement says.
Most Americans tend to interact with The Salvation Army around Christmastime, when its volunteers ring bells in front of grocery stores and at other locations to attract cash contributions in red kettles. The organization also runs hundreds of thrift stores and shelters in over 100 countries.
Founded in London in 1865 as a Christian church, The Salvation Army is organized in an army-style structure that includes officers, soldiers, and other volunteers. Collectively, church members are known as Salvationists.
The Salvation Army provides services in 131 countries, including to roughly 30 million Americans each year, the annual report says. In the U.S., it counts about 56,000 employees, about 430,000 members, and more than 2 million volunteers. (Not all volunteers are church members.)
The Salvation Army’s stated mission is “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination.” The army of Christian volunteers considers itself to be “politically nonpartisan” in engaging with government agencies.
An official statement dating to 2011 and describing the organization’s relationship with government entities declares: “The Salvation Army seeks to promote biblical values, including justice, truth, mercy, equity, human rights and peace, as part of its religious convictions and practice.”
Social Justice Commission’s Role
The Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission, formed in 2007 to serve as its representative to the United Nations, recently circulated written materials, podcasts, and videos as part of the “Let’s Talk About Racism” training curriculum for members and volunteers.
These resources outline the larger Christian church’s alleged complicity in racism and provide action plans to combat racism through an “anti-racist” lens.
The curriculum accuses white Salvationists of being unable or unwilling to acknowledge their racism, just as author Robin DiAngelo argues in her book “White Fragility” that whites are defensive about racism or race-related issues in general.
The training initiative attacks “colorblindness” on race with the same argument used by Ibram X. Kendi, author of the book “How to Be an Antiracist,” which characterizes the concept of colorblindness to race as a false neutrality that reveals a person’s inner racism.
Color Us United’s petition protesting the curriculum calls on Salvation Army leadership “to stop letting race activism dilute the good work of fellow Salvationists and supporters.”
The petition also asks the organization’s International Social Justice Commission “to publicly recognize that the suggestion that their membership ought to repent on ‘behalf of the church,’ while well-intentioned, is antithetical to the Christian ethic of individual salvation.”
Gen. Brian Peddle, a Canadian who serves as CEO and international leader for The Salvation Army, first announced the “Let’s Talk About Racism” curriculum in May during a devotional message on Facebook.
Although the training materials no longer are publicly available online, other posts indicate that The Salvation Army continues to pursue initiatives that vilify its own white members and whites in general.
‘DEI Wired Into Their DNA’
For example, an Aug. 25 post describes how two newly installed directors of Territorial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will advise territorial leaders on the use of language.
At the organization’s College for Officer Training, an officer of diversity, equity, and inclusion, known as DEI, “reviews every class syllabus to make sure it has a DEI component; it is not approved until it does,” the post says.
“So, our officers will have DEI wired into their DNA as they go into the territory to serve,” it adds.
The husband-and-wife team that directs The Salvation Army’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives will have power to veto any curriculum or guidance issued by the organization if they don’t view it as being sufficiently compliant with objectives.
These mandates on diversity, equity, and inclusion will affect the more than 3,000 Salvation Army officers at work in the U.S.
Although the “Let’s Talk About Racism” curriculum no longer is available online, The Daily Signal acquired copies of individual sessions that make up the initiative.
Session One includes definitions of individual, structural, and institutional racism that claim whites are the beneficiaries of discriminatory policies. The curriculum makes no mention of affirmative action policies at colleges and universities that put whites and Asians at a disadvantage, Xu notes.
The Supreme Court struck down racial preferences in admissions at the University of Michigan in a 2003 case, Gratz v. Bollinger.
“It is clear that the argument that the United States is a ‘white supremacist country’ is being made for the cynical intent to gain preferential treatment in the admissions and hiring process for certain minorities over others in the name of ‘anti-racism,’” Xu told The Daily Signal in an email.
‘For the Sake of Wokeness’
The Salvation Army’s “Let’s Talk About Racism” curriculum appears to accuse whites of operating from a privileged position.
Session One alludes to Appendixes A and E, which unpack the concept of “Whiteness.” Session Two makes the case that the larger Christian church and The Salvation Army itself have been infected with racism.
This approach to race relations doesn’t sit well with Xu and his relatively new organization.
“The Salvation Army in the United States funds 60% of The Salvation Army worldwide,” Xu said in an email. “We have found out that 60% of the people The Salvation Army helps in the United States are racial minorities.”
“These are the least racist people in an extraordinarily generous and race-blind country,” he added, referring to the organization’s members. “Yet, The Salvation Army throws their own members and ordinary Americans under the bus for the sake of wokeness.”
The Daily Signal sought comment from The Salvation Army, contacting national headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, as well as all four territorial offices. The Daily Signal asked who was responsible for removing the information on the curriculum from the organization’s website, why the information was removed, and whether the curriculum is still in use internally.
David Jolley, director of communications for the national headquarters, told The Daily Signal in an email that the training document in question “is a voluntary discussion guide” prepared by the International Social Justice Commission. It is for use in “small group settings to stimulate discussion” among officers and staff, he said, and “is not part of The Salvation Army’s position on racism.”
In his official response, Jolley also writes:
The Salvation Army’s love for all of God’s children is deeply rooted in Scripture. We believe that racism is fundamentally incompatible with the Christian conviction that all people are made in the image of God and are equal in value.
The Salvation Army believes that the world is enriched by a diversity of cultures and ethnicities, and we are committed to working towards a world where all people are accepted, loved, and valued. We serve all without discrimination, and we respect and value the unique views and beliefs of all our employees, volunteers, and supporters. We encourage people to learn more about our position at salarmy.us/diversity.
Critical Race Theory ‘Garbage’
Color Us United says it has begun to receive emails from Salvation Army donors who are withholding their support until the organization abandons initiatives that echo critical race theory and so-called anti-racism materials.
The group has received emails from donors who say they’re concerned that the organization is requiring employees who play Santa Claus during Christmastime to take training in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
One message to Xu, dated Nov. 4, says of The Salvation Army:
Thanks Kenny I truly appreciate your efforts. I donated a car to them in 2019 and I will not do so again unless they stop CRT [critical race theory] in their organization.
I have an old car I was thinking of donating but will definitely contact them [and let them know] that I won’t be supporting them in any way moving forward if they continue supporting this CRT garbage!
I am [a] Filipino immigrant and a Christian who loves this country, [I] have enjoyed the American way of life and have never been discriminated [against] because of my ethnicity. CRT is a total LIE!
In email blasts, Color Us United advises supporters to refrain from donating to The Salvation Army until the organization’s leadership abandons “woke policies.”
One such message, also dated Nov. 4, tells recipients that they “can make a difference by sending an email to [email protected]” to let The Salvation Army know “how much their everyday supporters won’t stand for wokeness.”
“This clearly shows that TSA [The Salvation Army] is currently more concerned with social justice grandstanding than with actually ‘Doing the Most Good,’” the Color Us United email says, referring to a Salvation Army slogan.
Aiming for 25,000 Signatures
The petition organized by Color Us United has a stated goal of 25,000 signatures. The names of those who have signed are confidential, but could become public “if and when” Color Us United collects more than 25,000 signatures.
“We may need to do this to prove to TSA that the signatures are real,” the petition notes.
Xu is one of three full-time staff members at Color Us United, which filed for nonprofit status with the IRS in May 2020.
The group lists 15 “team members,” including Deroy Murdock, a columnist and commentator whose work appears in The Daily Signal; Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who directs its initiative on critical race theory and has written for The Daily Signal; Michael Gonzalez, a senior fellow with The Heritage Foundation whose writing on racial matters encompasses the Black Lives Matter organization; and Ward Connerly, founder of a PAC called Equal Rights for All and primary architect of California’s Proposition 209, which dismantled racial preferences.
Xu is a former intern at The Heritage Foundation, parent organization of The Daily Signal, where Rufo recently was a visiting fellow.
Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.
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