- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2021

An advocacy group organized in February to “combat critical race theory” said it will continue its battle of words with The Salvation Army, promising to fire a barrage of social media advertisements asking the charity to say America isn’t racist.

In a video-streamed news conference, Kenny Xu, president of Color Us United, said his group believes The Salvation Army, an evangelical Christian church known for its “Red Kettle” holiday season fundraising, has departed from its mission by forcing race-based discussions on its clergy, called “officers” in the Army’s terminology.

Mr. Xu said The Salvation Army is “covering up the [critical race theory] that is infiltrating their institutions through the framework of ‘Let’s Talk About Racism,’” a discussion guide the group pulled from circulation earlier this week in response to donor pushback.

“Our goal is to get The Salvation Army to apologize for its curriculum, to abolish the CRT policies that come directly from” the discussion guide. He also wants the charity “to assert definitively that America is not a racist country,” which he claimed the “Let’s Talk About Racism” document stated.

Speaking with The Washington Times on Monday, Commissioner Kenneth Hodder, national commander of The Salvation Army, said the organization, which began U.S. operations in 1880, opposes racism.

“The mission statement of The Salvation Army has always been very clear: to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination. Of course, contained within that is a complete rejection of racism in all of its forms.”

Commissioner Hodder then said critics have “suggested that we believe that America is an inherently racist society,” adding, “none of that could be further from the truth.”

Mr. Xu, in the news conference, said the Army’s implementation of “racial equity training” in its U.S.A. Western Territory, headquartered in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, was an effort “to peddle the narrative that Whites are systemically racist.” An internal online questionnaire for Salvation Army clergy on their “experience of racism” was also blasted by Mr. Xu who said such surveys promote the view “that racism is internalized into The Salvation Army, and therefore we need” critical race theory to be taught.

A spokesperson for The Salvation Army said Wednesday evening the group “occasionally issues surveys to learn about the interests and concerns of our teams around the country” on a number of topics, including racial issues.

“Any well-intended organization should be asking such questions to ensure they know the concerns of their staff and respond to them effectively. We are confident that reasonable members of the public will understand,” the spokesperson added. 

Christian Watson, a spokesman for Color Us United who participated in the news conference, said the group had heard from several Salvation Army officers, including a “woman in Ohio” who claimed regional Army leadership was “heavily pushing people at all levels of all ranks to go ahead and go to [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion] training seminars.”

Neither Mr. Watson nor Mr. Xu would name the officers who had contacted Color Us United, and Mr. Xu said he did not disclose those names during a meeting with Commissioner Hodder when the leader asked the group to “bring any captains to directly talk with us.”

Mr. Xu said the online campaign would be the primary means of trying to shift The Salvation Army’s position.

“We are ramping up the ad campaign right now,” he said. “We’re pushing hard on their holiday season because it’s the time when donors are activated,” he added.

The Army spokesperson said the group “is ramping up its campaign to meet the needs of Americans who continue struggling from pandemic poverty. We find it troubling that any group or individual would expend so much effort to undermine the important work of providing Christmas gifts for children, food for families, and shelter for those facing homelessness.” 

Asked about any effect the Color Us United campaign might have on this year’s seasonal fundraising, the Army spokesperson said, “We don’t have numbers to report yet. As always, The Salvation Army trusts that God will provide the resources needed to serve the 30 million Americans who come to us for help each year.”

Responding to a reporter’s question, Mr. Xu said Color Us United has “three employees and we’re entirely privately funded,” although he did not disclose any budget figures.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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