Founded: July 2nd, 1865 in London, United Kingdom
Founders: William and Catherine Booth
Parent tradition: Methodism
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Resources referenced available here
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The Salvation Army is a denomination created through the separation of William and Catherine Booth from the Methodist Reform Church in 1865. From its inception, there was a near total emphasis on charity and care for the “down and outs,” with William stating that “the three ‘S’s’ best expressed the way in which the Army administered to the ‘down and outs’: first, soup; second, soap; and finally, salvation.” This heavy focus on serving outside the church lead to The Salvation Army’s rejecting baptism and communion, with William believing that Christians were focusing too much on such things, and seeing them as a hindrance to salvation. Booth stated, “There must never be a sacramental service at the end of a meeting so as to prevent the possibility of inviting sinners to the mercy-seat.” Though none of this makes them woke, it is worth noting the similarities between the early Salvation Army and the social gospel.
The modern Salvation Army has become synonymous with Christian charity, and their bell ringers have become a sign of the approach of Christmas, standing as humble reminders of giving outside of retail stores with their over-commercialization of the sacred observance of Christ’s birth. Contrary to this outward appearance, The Salvation Army has replaced humility before the Lord with a submission to woke ideologies.
International Social Justice Commission
Unlike many individuals and organizations, The Salvation Army (TSA) does not hesitate to use the term “social justice.” This is most readily apparent through its “International Social Justice Commission” (ISJC). The ISJC is “The Salvation Army’s strategic voice to advocate for human dignity and social justice with the world’s poor and oppressed,” as well as operating as The Salvation Army’s representative to the UN. The ISJC creates position statements, study guides, podcasts, research papers, and more, through which it advocates for social justice in the world and defines TSA’s stance on the issues explored below — issues such as racism, abortion, the death penalty, caring for the environment, and sexism.
Is it possible that TSA is using the term “social justice” in a way different from the way the woke would use it? Let us look at a document titled “Social Justice: 5-Point Bible Study,” where the ministry defines “marginalized groups” as: children, women, elderly, ethnic minorities, immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, disabled, poor, religious minorities, LGBT community, indigenous people, migrant workers, and trafficked people. This list aligns perfectly with woke social justice, and therefore is of concern. The Salvation Army defines doing social justice in this “5-Part Bible Study” as “challeng[ing] root causes of systemic inequity and exploitation.” Again, this aligns perfectly with a woke definition of the term. To gain clarity on the question of The Salvation Army’s being woke or not, the following sections will examine individual positions held, promoted, and taught by the organization.
The Salvation Army takes a firm stand against the death penalty on the grounds that “[e]very person bears the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and so human life has intrinsic value.” As well, “those who have committed crimes must face justice, but always in ways that recognize the inviolable sanctity of their lives.” This stance impugns God and His Word, for God commands, condones, and upholds death as a punishment for grievous sins. In addition, God has declared that right and just punishment for sin is not just physical death, but eternal death in hell. Thus, the claim that God’s image in man contradicts the death penalty would mean that God violates His own image (His character attributes reflected in man). This exposes that TSA’s view of the image of God in mankind is not rooted in God, but man. It is subjective and can be used to justify whatever the organization’s leaders desire. This will become evident in later sections of this profile..
The Salvation Army promotes radical environmentalism based on the idea of manmade climate change (global warming). TSA’s material states that “[c]urrent scientific opinion confirms increased temperatures leading to more extreme and less predictable weather patterns due to human activity.” Confusingly, it makes the fall of man an act of “abuse” of the planet: “In other words, the first manifestation of sin in the world was for humans to relate to the Earth simply as they desired, without accountability to God. Once sin entered the world, the harmony of Eden was broken.” “Practical responses” the organization commits to and encourages members to take include:
- Raising awareness of the injurious impact people’s actions are having on God’s earth and of healthier practical alternatives that can be chosen.
- Encouraging Salvationists to consider a vocation in environmental science.
- Providing practical care for those who are impacted by adverse or damaging environmental situations and advocating with them for positive change and environmental justice.
The views The Salvation Army expresses on “climate issues” are concerning; yet it’s when its leaders begin talking about “environmental justice” that they slip into woke territory. Let us explore the document “Study Guide on Caring for the Environment” to help clarify what “environmental justice” means to the ministry and its leaders. To them, in part, it is a “justice” issue because “[i]ts effects fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable, particularly in terms of health, livelihood, shelter and the opportunity to make choices.” Further, the “Salvation Army emphasis in reaching out to disempowered and marginalised people means that we are directly found where environmental degradation intersects with social inequality.” Here we find entrenched wokeism: to The Salvation Army, everything is measured on a scale of oppression, with different intersections of oppression defining how marginalized one is. “Climate change,” therefore, is just another abuse perpetrated by people with power on those who are “disempowered and marginalized.”
The Salvation Army starts off strong on abortion, clearly stating that “[we believe] that life is a gift from God and we are answerable to God for the taking of life.” Yet, it quickly adds qualifications making abortion acceptable, including a confusing assertion that it is permissible when “[r]eliable diagnostic procedures have identified a foetal abnormality considered incompatible with survival for more than a very brief post natal period.” Beyond the obvious problematic nature of this assertion from a moral perspective, it is misleading. In other words, it is unclear and open to interpretation, and therefore open to abuse.
There’s more. TSA also asserts that the value of a baby isn’t inherent but dependent upon the circumstance of his or her conception. TSA’s perspective is that a baby conceived through rape or incest may very well be a threat to emotional wellbeing of the mother, so the implication is made that murdering the child might be less traumatic:
“[R]ape and incest are brutal acts of dominance violating women physically and emotionally. This situation represents a special case for the consideration of termination as the violation may be compounded by the continuation of the pregnancy.”
Despite TSA’s stance against the death penalty, its appeals to the image of God, and its claims that we are answerable to God for murder, the organization treats unborn babies as being of lesser value than their already-born counterparts. Babies do not command the same consideration as criminals; nor do they possess inherent benefits derived from being made in God’s image. Nor is a baby’s life consistently deemed a “life” that, when taken, constitutes an act of murder. Further, The Salvation Army continues by discussing the “complex reasons” women seek abortion — and these “reasons” include different oppressions. Again, babies, who are being oppressed in the worst possible way by abortionists, do not get the same considerations.
Contrary to its claims to be broadly against abortion, TSA works with the UN to end the “structural [issue]” of “decision-making on sexual and reproductive issues,” and to “[e]nsure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.” The UN is unashamedly pro-abortion, and so are its goals on reducing “structural issues” on “reproductive rights.”
“Gender equality issues” are a major concern for The Salvation Army and its leaders. This is a matter for which the organization and its leaders partner directly with, and take their cues from, the UN: “The Salvation Army is committed to SDG 5, which has served as the North Star for the Gender Equity Taskforce of The Salvation Army, guiding us upon our journey.” In their position statement on sexism, they continue to build a woke-informed take on “gender equality issues,” making sexism an expression of power dynamics and a systemic issue, and putting all women in a category of “oppressed person.”:
“Sexism often includes a combination of prejudice plus power. It is expressed through systemic, structured prejudice and cultural discrimination and can be present in a family, communities of faith, and societal and national cultures.”
Throughout the remainder of the document, TSA continues to push ideas that align with radical feminism and that are right at home within critical gender theory. Women are painted as fully helpless and oppressed by the system (patriarchy), yet sometimes indistinguishable in all ways from men (deconstruction of the distinctiveness of the sexes). Further, they are at points superior to men. This is a further expression of the subjectivism that appears throughout TSA perspectives on issues. It is a perspective that consistently betrays their reliance on man (particularly through applications of critical theories) rather than on the firm and unchanging truth of God’s Word.
In November of 2021, The Salvation Army found itself the subject of controversy with regard to a “discussion guide” on racism it produced. The organization and its leaders released a good number of videos (like this one) “debunking” claims that they were promoting CRT or asking or implying people should apologize for being white. While the attitude apparent in their “clarifications” is one of kindness, sincerity, and a desire to serve God; the question is, did this event really prompt widespread misunderstanding of TSA’s position on CRT. The evidence does not agree with TSA’s assessment.
Unfortunately, Salvation Army leaders defended themselves by saying simply “we don’t promote CRT” without providing a credible argument against the claims that they did. Nor did they retract their statements in the guide. Instead, they removed public access to it. Compounding this, they state repeatedly that they are “not on the left, and not on the right,” a common sentiment among “Third Way” liberals like Tim Keller and pietists. Does that make them woke? Their further responses and teachings will answer that. In a separate public response, they take a more hostile, aggressive, and even threatening stance, going as far as to claim that these “attacks” “have the potential to significantly impact those who are hungry, families who are at risk of losing their homes, survivors of natural disasters, and more.” While still providing no evidence assuaging concerns raised, they encourage people to “set the record straight,” and to refute these “attacks” on social media.
What is TSA’s current available position statement on racism? Right off the bat, the statement includes the line “‘Racism’ also refers to political or social programmes….” This strongly implies that racism is not, or not only, perpetrated by racists, but is a system. Continuing on, it claims that “[r]acism is not only the result of individual attitudes, but can also be perpetuated by social structures and systems. Sometimes racism is overt and intentional, but often it is not. “Again, TSA and its leaders push the ideas that racism is embedded systems and structures, and that racism is not inherently born of hate but “often” unintentional or part of a system. These ideas align with the notion that one can be a racist simply because of the color of his or her skin color and/or country of origin, aka: If your skin is light enough in America, you are racist by default. To their credit, they do state that “[s]cience has shown, however, that there is no evidence to support the existence of biologically different human races.” Even so, to them “[r]acism can take many expressions, including open hatred, indifference, or lack of care,” echoing the BLM claim that “white silence is white violence.” They back the idea of generational inequity when they claim things such as “decades of racist structures and prejudices have created inter-generational effects and disadvantages.”
This has only been a selective look at TSA’s position statement on racism, yet it is already clear The Salvation Army buys into the ideas of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.
The claim was that the document titled “Let’s Talk About Racism” simply was “misunderstood,” or at worst that it contains some “unclear” things — but is this really the case? The Salvation Army’s leaders again clarified, rightly, that “[r]ace and racism, however, were born of sinful human design, and have no basis in science or Biblical thought.” Yet the rest of the guide assumes race exists. Here are a few definitions provide:
- Racist: a person who belongs to a dominant or privileged group…
- Racism: a prejudice against someone based on race, when those prejudices are reinforced by systems of power. The prejudiced treatment, stereotyping or discrimination of People Of Color on the basis of race. Racism also refers to the system of social advantage and disadvantage or privilege and oppression that is based on race. Racism is a marriage of racist policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes racial inequities.
- Structural racism: is the overarching system of racial bias across institutions and society. These systems give privileges to White people resulting in disadvantages to People Of Color.
- Whiteness: Whiteness is also at the core of understanding race in America. Whiteness and the normalization of White racial identity throughout America’s history have created a culture where non-White persons are seen as inferior or abnormal.
- Oppression: refers to a combination of prejudice and institutional power that creates a system that regularly and severely discriminates against some groups and benefits other groups.
- Intersectionality: the belief that our social justice movements must consider all of the intersections of identity, privilege and oppression that people face in order to be just and effective.
It should be clear at this point that yes, as an organization, The Salvation Army does believe “white people” need to apologize for their “whiteness” and that America is a deeply racist country. The organization and its leaders never promote CRT by name, but they clearly uphold all of its tenants and recommend resources that promote it and teach it. In addition, they promote intersectionality by name. If that weren’t enough, see the quotes below, as well as a selection of the resources they recommend that openly teach CRT.
- Hence the intersection of race, class and gender must be considered in any undertaking addressing social justice.
- What has not changed is that racial groups are placed into a hierarchy, with White or lighter skinned people at the top; non-Indigenous People Of Color (POC) subjugated beneath lighter skinned people; Black and Indigenous people at the bottom of the racial system.
- We must stop denying the existence of individual and systemic/institutional racism. They exist, and are still at work to keep White Americans in power.
- Racism is not an individual act, it is systemic and institutional. Our foundations were built on racism, and it is still strongly felt in every aspect of American life.
Resources promoted in that are openly, and unashamedly, promoting CRT:
- The Cross and the Lynching Tree, James H. Cone
- Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice, Eric Mason
- The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism, Jemar Tisby
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin DiAngelo
- 1619 by The New York Times
The Salvation Army has been putting in a lot of effort over the past few years to dispel rumors that it discriminates, including hiring a woke advertising agency that maintains a “Brand Inclusivity Performance Index.” The organization and those involved in it go far beyond that, though; and in fact also promote the “LGBT community.” As with just about everything else, you don’t have to dig to find this, since they are proud to display it boldly. On this topic, it is most helpful to see what they have put out in videos on the subject. We have made a video showcasing a good many clips. As mentioned under “Racism,” TSA openly promotes the idea of intersectionality, including in a video declaring how inclusive it is, where a female employee states, “…it don’t get no harder than being an African-American woman, who’s a lesbian.” It is beyond alarming that TSA would state that “[w]e are very culturally competent around issues of people who are transgender. We tailor the services to whichever gender they identify with,” followed directly by a self-described gay man saying “[n]o one’s trying to change me, no one’s tried to convert me.”
If The Salvation Army and its leaders are not trying to convert sinners from a life of sin and rebellion against God but are instead embracing people’s deviancies and delusions, then there is no true gospel there. One final point: The Salvation Army is a denomination, one in which there exists no distinction between its social work and its ecclesiastical or church body. For a church to brag that one can find many “employees who identify as members of the LGBTQ community,” is to make a mockery of God’s Word. Here at Wokepedia, we stand on the Word of God, rightly condemning sins such as homosexuality; and we pray that the victims of The Salvation Army’s powerless gospel might meet Christ. We pray for the day that we might be able to describe everyone used in those videos as Paul does the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 6:11, where he writes, “and such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”