Salvation Army's holiday message to white donors: Apologize for your racism

(Mark Moran/The Citizens' Voice via AP)

Et tu, Salvation Army? The charity organization universally recognized for its red kettles and bell-ringing has taken a turn toward the woke side. In order to embrace critical race theory and the Black Lives Matter movement, the Salvation Army has chosen to insult white donors with an anti-racism message. Their message assumes all white people are racist and it asks that their racism be reflected upon.


The Salvation Army’s red kettles and bell-ringing volunteers standing out in the winter weather smiling and collecting donations for the needy is an expected holiday sight. That scene is played out in locations across the country, in numerous spots in many cities and towns. It’s a part of the fabric of the season. This year the Salvation Army has taken it upon itself to publish a guidebook, “Let’s Talk About Racism,” and an accompanying document called the “Study Guide on Racism”. The message is that white people are consciously or unconsciously racist but they are racist, nonetheless. To its white donors, the essential message is, check your privilege.

In “Let’s Talk about Racism”, the works of CRT promoters Robin DiAngelo and Henry Rogers (a.k.a. Ibram Kendi) are recommended reading.

DiAngelo and Rogers (Kendi) claim that any observable difference in relative behavior or accomplishment between racial groups is due to the inherent racism of whites, arguing against the traditional American concept of equal opportunity in favor of the Marxist-inspired goal of equality of outcome.

“Structural racism.. is the overarching system of racial bias across institutions and society. These systems give privileges to White people resulting in disadvantages to (blacks),” reads a Salvation Army lesson.

“Stop trying to be ‘colorblind’. 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,” Let’s Talk about Racism explains. “Instead of trying to be colorblind, try seeing the beauty in our differences, and welcome them into your homes churches and workplaces. Being colorblind also ignores the discrimination our Black and Brown brothers and sisters face and does not allow us to address racism properly.”


See, white people, you may not be conscious of your racism but you are “unintentionally perpetuating injustice.”

The study guide reads: “The subtle nature of racism is such that people who are not consciously racist easily function with the privileges, empowerment and benefits of the dominant ethnicity, thus unintentionally perpetuating injustice.”

Despite their best intentions and commitment against it, the charity claims, “people can unintentionally and unwittingly perpetuate racial division.”

“For instance, devout Christians who naively use racial epithets or a well-intentioned Sunday School curriculum that only uses white photography and imagery,” the Salvation Army writes.

Is the Salvation Army intentionally trying to dry up its donations? Taking a swipe at Sunday School lessons and Christians, in particular, is just asking for another War on Christianity battle, isn’t it? It was Martin Luther King, Jr., a Christian minister himself, who preached color-blindness. His message was to see the person, not the skin color. The Salvation Army’s message is to see the skin color and focus on that.

The letter sent to donors with the guidebook mentions that it is from the International Salvation Army, provided through its new International Social Justice Commission. The guidebook is to act as an addendum to The Salvation Army’s International Positional Statement. That statement addresses the Salvation Army’s position at the organization level.

The Salvation Army is committed to equality, disavows discrimination and affirms racial diversity. Sorrow and repentance are needed for any negative legacy that past shortcomings have created. We acknowledge that Salvationists have sometimes conformed to economic, political, social and internal pressures that perpetuate racism.


Christian churches typically do community service projects for those in need – acts of Christian charity. Yet, the new woke Salvation Army asks that its white donors “Lament, repent and apologize for biases or racist ideologies held and actions committed.” It’s unclear why now all of a sudden the Salvation Army feels the need to embrace Marxist ideology from Black Lives Matter and jump into the hot-button issue of systemic racism. Blanket generalizations that white people are racists, wittingly or not, don’t seem to fit with its previous messages of non-judgmental acceptance of all. What changed that the charity felt the need to establish an International Social Justice Commission? One look at the front page of that website shows a laundry list of social justice causes. In other words, the Salvation Army has now placed social justice activism over works of charity. The good works done by the Salvation Army and its volunteers already show a lack of racism and discrimination. They show up after natural disasters and feed and care for those in need. They raise money to help those in need. The statement at the top of its website reads, “The Salvation Army exists to meet human need wherever, whenever, and however we can.”

The Salvation Army already doesn’t discriminate. Its donors, yes, even the white ones, already know of its works. Giving money to the organization implies that the donor supports the charity’s work. This is odd messaging from them. Why would they call for a non-color-blind society when the very people this guidebook and letter targets are its white donors? Isn’t that seeing a person’s color? The message stereotypes all white people as racist. Hard stop. Pinning the world’s problems on white people is wrong, whether it is Black Lives Matter, Ibram Kendi, or the Salvation Army. What a disappointing message to send during the Christmas season.


Update (Ed): The Salvation Army responded on its website, calling this “false claims on the topic of racism,” but doesn’t deny that it published the study guides:

The Salvation Army has occasionally published study guides on various complex topics, including race, to help foster positive conversations and reflection among Salvationists. The hope is that by openly discussing these issues, we can encourage a more thoughtful organization that is better positioned to serve those in need. These guides are solely designed for internal use. No one is being told how to think. Period.

The very purpose of conversation is to share differing points of view and to hear from people with different experiences. Discussion is not indoctrination. It’s what reasonable people do. It’s how we learn and we grow. Thankfully, not everyone thinks the same way – it’s what makes us unique in the eyes of our Creator. Yet some have taken the fact that we have invited such conversations about race among our members as an opportunity to push their own agenda. In doing so, they have sought to shut down conversation, not foster it.

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. 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. Ours is a message of love, even for those who disagree or attack us. That is the model set by Christ that we strive to follow every day. God bless you, and happy Thanksgiving.


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David Strom 6:40 PM | April 18, 2024