Has The Salvation Army Gone Woke?
December 2, 2021
Has The Salvation Army gone woke? Last week, a dozen people reached out to me asking about the validity of several articles that pointed to woke trends in the Army. I link those articles below. One of the people who reached out to me was my colleague and friend, Dr. Matt Friedeman. He and I combined podcasts to talk through this matter. Here’s are the links:
YouTube - https://youtu.be/W6PTVKidCtM
Audio Podcast - https://share.transistor.fm/s/94c5762b
Dr. Ed McKinley suggests in his definitive history of The Salvation Army in the USA, Marching to Glory, that early salvationists:
…were a little concerned with theories of social justice; they knew only that they’re Heavenly Commander and ordered His soldiers to take in strangers, visit the sick and imprisoned, and offer a drink to the thirsty and food to the hungry. They also knew that there were souls dying all around and that the first step in saving some of them was to lift them up so they could hear that such a thing as salvation existed. (68)
This description is the essence of Salvationism, and I believe these actions are being realized in most Salvation Army units around the world. The Army is at a clear crossroads in its history, and I address that in today’s podcast.
Articles challenging the Army can be found here, here, and here. The most objective report was by Mark Kellner and can be found here. Here’s a link to a blog where I have noted some of the mixed messages from the Army.
Here’s a link to The Salvation Army’s official response.
What should you do? You can restrict your giving to your local SA. Also, if you can be involved in your local SA to know about the nature of their work for those in need that would go a long way to ensure your gifts are used well.
Last week I published a special Thanksgiving episode of More to Story featuring three of my favorite people- MY CHILDREN! Even though Thanksgiving is past, don’t miss this podcast.
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This is the more to the story podcast with Dr. Andy Miller. We hope you guys enjoy today's conversation.
Welcome to the more to the story Podcast. I'm glad you come along. This is going to be an interesting episode. Some people have sent me emails all Thanksgiving weekend saying has the Salvation Army gone woke like I had enough emails, enough text that I felt like I need to respond. And I'm doing that in a unique way. I'm combining podcasts with the life changing discipleship podcast with Matt freedom. And so you're gonna have like both of us kind of talking to both our audiences at the same time. Now, before we get to it, I need to mention my sponsors who really make this happen. And there's a new sponsor for the Morris story poppet podcast, and I was really excited to take this person and give them a great introduction. But they want to remain anonymous. So Mr. or Miss anonymous, thank you so much. And we're also brought to you by WP o development. Their CEO, Keith waters is a friend of mine. And he's somebody who goes into a community and works with nonprofits, churches, universities, all kinds of groups. And what he does is he helps people develop a plan for achieving their goals. And sometimes that means they need to outline their goals in a mission planning study, leading to a strategic plan and ultimately, to a capital campaign. And Keith and his team and they have offices all over the country have done this successfully in more than 250 cities across the United States. It's amazing the work he's done. And I can testify because he has worked with me when I served in the Salvation Army. So I encourage you to look up you can just Google WP o development or you can get Keith, the CEO, Keith dot waters at WIPO. development.com. Thanks for coming to more historic podcasts, it means so much to us that you're able to be a part of this. And if you like what you hear, and I know some of you won't like what you hear, because you already heard like I'm talking about this article that came about woke things in the Salvation Army. Would you share this? Would you enter into dialogue? Can we have conversations about this? Maybe you could like it, you could maybe maybe you don't want to share it on your social media, maybe you can just text it to a friend or I could use some folks to help us to just leaving reviews on Apple podcasts. That's a way that makes it easier for people to find us. So thanks again for checking out the moral of the story podcast. God bless you.
Hey, difference. Good. I mean, so very good to have you with us today. We are doing an interesting program. Today, we're going to feature two podcasts in one. One is called more to the story. And as you know, your host for that is Andy Miller. My name is Matt freedom and, and my podcast is called Life Changing discipleship. We actually think you need to check out both podcasts, more of the story and life changing discipleship. Welcome, Andy
Miller. Well, thank you so much, Matt, freedom and glad to be on your podcast
and have you on my it's a it's an honor for me to be here with you.
It's a love fest our audiences, if they got together, they wouldn't have a great party. So I'm glad to be able to share a little bit together.
All right. So listen, the reason we're doing this, we just thought the couple issues that we're going to face here in the next couple podcasts, we just think is going to be good for eBay. Listen to absolutely. And so one of them is an organization that you've been involved with for years and years and years. I mean, yeah, your family. Yeah, yeah. I'm a youth. What about six generations? Yeah, your people six or six generations of Salvation Army participation. And of course, the Salvation Army started by William Booth. And, wow, what an incredible legacy that he has all around the world. Right. And I love so I'm just gonna tell you straight up. And I think I've told you this quite a bit. I love Salvation Army. But as with everything we love, we always have concerns. Right. And so one of the things that's been happening lately, the Salvation Army's they found a way to get into the news in a little bit of an unusual way. So what get us up to date here on the most recent news story, and it's a bit of a troubling news story, I think, right?
It's problematic and it's and I love that you love the Salvation Army. A lot of people who listen this podcast on your podcast probably loved the Salvation Army, in part because they know it's a Christian organization. The mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination. So I'm used to people loving this Salvation Army and and I do to six generations, and even though it drives me crazy, every now and then, it's like, it's It's the mother that birthed me, so to speak, and discipleship, in all fairness,
we're all part of groups. And if you really love a group, you're going to have some irritations with the group. Right? Right. Right. And I'm the same way I'm churches and as rains, I've got some problems with the Church of the Nazarene. But on the whole, I'm still they're still fighting away, still flogging away. And you the same way as the Salvation Army. Right? Yeah. It's a love affair, but not without some input that we think ought to be constructive.
Right. And I wanted to be very cautious with this because a new story that came out I think, I don't quite hit the AP. I had people like you, you know, when I came in the office on Monday after Thanksgiving, you're like, What is going on? And then I had other people, you know, texted me and they send me a story. Wonder from Tennessee wonders from Newsweek. They were just stories going all around. There were some conservative outlets that were putting things out so People were sending them to me. And I was I was cautious when I saw the title, because it said something like,
I didn't believe it when I saw the title, the headline. I didn't, I think, yeah, there's got to be more of the story than that.
Well, more to the story. What a great name for a podcast. Why didn't I think? A slight change in discipleship? So if we have that, so what happens? It said something like, the Salvation Army encourages donors to repent or to the Shabbos army encourages join donors to apologize for white privilege, something to that effect, right.
Now, if I'm a donor, I'm thinking way what and by the way, you are donor, probably Salvation Army doesn't exist without donors, just like my church didn't exist. Any denomination. You got to have givers and all of a sudden that crops up.
Right. And I and there is what's going on here. The big, big pictures like that headline, particularly was slanted in a negative direction it came out right before our national kickoff during the Cowboys think
about that. Yeah, I mean, this is the big giving time for everybody, but especially for the Salvation Army, right this month, right primetime. Now, I
don't think that I'm guessing the people who came with that headline are the people who are putting this story forward. My guess is that in one of them is a well known apologist, Greg Coco. My guess is that they actually like the Salvation Army, and they'd like to see us get better. And they think there's problems and it's worth addressing. But these headlines, of course, are very unfortunate and position. Okay, it's good to get to the issue. All right, talk. So what ends up being is what's happened is some of the dirty laundry, I'd say, of the internal talks in the Salvation Army have come to the public. Now what I mean by that is like, there are some things happening this is certainly if you follow that story, and you look out and you click on the links, you will find that what those that story is purporting is true, like there are there is a utilization by some resources in this audition army of CRT kind of woke language. And I'm not even going to judge that necessarily in this. But what you would have read in that story is something that is true in the sense that we had resources that utilize that language. And that is not deniable that Salvation Army has implemented across the world and some some leadership, not everywhere, and not in every local unit, of course, like diversity officers and these type of things that you could ascribe to kind of the the new woke agenda. And so that that is there now that I want to suggest is not the essence, though, of what's happening in your local community, the Salvation Army. Okay. So
yeah, one of the things I think I remember reading was, we need to apologize for our whiteness. I'm not quite sure what that means. Yeah.
Well, of course, that's a problem. And one of the interesting things about the Salvation Army course, is that the average Salvationist across the world is not white. We're in 133 countries, it's so crazily diverse, this, this is unfortunate, because what ends up happening is it's it's not a word to donors. Now, there was a document that came out called let's talk about racism. And this came from the Salvation Army's International. So the international
Social Justice Commission. Yeah. All right. So almost from the get go. Yeah. First off, I'm a big fan of social justice. Right. I'm huge. I think I showed yesterday got a DVD in my office called social justice. I show it to every every demon class. We have it right Wesley but with seminary, big fan, Albert molars on it, right, Charles Colson is on it. The Conservatives of conservatives are World News grew, I mean, social justice. But these days when I'm seeing those words, I all of a sudden, just a question mark goes up. What are they talking about? I know what I'm talking about, right? I'm talking about Matthew 2531 to 46. Yeah. And as much as you've done it to the least of these, you've done it unto me. Right. But I want to make sure that the social justice we are promoting helps the poor and doesn't hurt them. Right. It's possible to hurt them. It is true. So but but get let's get back to international Social Justice Commission.
Yeah. So this is a group that came about about a little more than 15 years ago, the international leader of the Salvation Army, the general at that time, instituted this Commission, which was a way to resource local Salvation Army's all around the world. But unfortunately, what happened when we did that was at the time, like you just indicated the word social justice was kind of a novelty in the Salvation Army. Maybe it was a way for us to think about our ministry as we serve the poor as we do that Matthew 25 type of work and so like, I never have liked the language, social anything, actually, we have the social or social services. I've preferred and I have a book on this, you can find any more third calm in the that uses the language of hospitality welcoming to the strangers that's that's my little plug. But what happened is 15 years or so ago, this started and what happened is this this group is based. This entity is based in New York City, and it has a voice in the UN, but then also produces resources and what has happened, as there has been greater debate within the Salvation Army, this kind of dirty laundry that I would say that we're now showing to the world. What has happened is that has embraced some of the things cuz that would be typified by the kind of woke movement as a whole, like utilizing critical race theory language.
That means nothing to most okay. Yeah, no, thank you. Yeah, just let's give us give us a few pieces. Yeah, pretty voluminous. You can do a whole class I think we are doing Yeah, we are. Yeah. Yeah. gives you just a few critical pieces of critical race theory.
Yeah, certainly, it is good for us to acknowledge the sins of the past like to acknowledge that there has been racism in the world that has done great evil across the world where nobody is, like contesting that. At the same time, when we move to a place where we find our full identity in our groups, or are at the essence of who we are, in our race, when equality of outcomes are pushed. When anti racism language is used, that uses kind of like the white fragility concepts from, from authors that come in that perspective, the Angelo for one, when Marxist categories are used with oppressed and oppressor, this gets to be problematic. Now, some people disagree with me on that, for sure. But that was the type of thing that was promoted in this resource that was cited in the stories that you saw. All right.
So the international Social Justice Commission, of course, I know a few of these people, right, that are working in New York City with this group. Love them, right. So it's possible to be involved with this, and we can love you, but we're beginning to feel a little uneasy,
right? It's um, it's unfortunate.
So is the Salvation Army getting liberal? Hello, Matt.
Okay, I'm gonna do my very best, because I see
about two or three articles a year that would suggest that this beloved organization is so many people out there, we just want to help the poor, we want to know there's an organization we can trust to help the poor in our communities. But we're we don't want to put up with this, you know, the contemporary social justice dribble or the liberalization of the organization, right. So I think a lot of donors are wondering, Hey, what do we ought to be thinking here?
Well, I say yes and no. Okay. Like, I'm sorry, I can't give you a definite answer. I would think that 80% Now, this is not empirical. If I gave this a paper in your class, you would probably be like, ah, Andy, I don't know. But like, I would say, my experience, and I know the savagery pretty well, in the United States, I would think that 80% Maybe I don't know, 80% of savage army officers would be conservative sanctified, like doing the essence of the work, they wouldn't be somebody you would think had like Gone woke for that matter. Like there there would be a contingent and there is just like, it's happened in most nominations, even in your denomination, that there is like a contingent that is pushing a liberalizing agenda, that would be the same thing with same sex relationships with the authority of Scripture, we could go on and on and talk about these things. And some of those things, I think are expressed by the documents that have been produced from our international headquarters, and the International Social Justice Commission. There was one that Matt Ayers and I our president talked about President of the WBS that is talked about that said, let's talk about same sex relationship. Let's talk about homosexuality. This was I was very uneasy with some of the things I would say verge on heresy. So I'm very cautious of this. And like I and people in the Salvation Army have been standing up have been chained up writing letters. But unfortunately, we have a structural problem, I'm going to hit this real quick. And this is what it is like, this happens in all denominations. When you have something that exists outside of the field or the ground level, like what matters in the churches like what's happening in the local unit, and the Salvation Army's always local here in Jacksonville responding to local needs. But what happens is when you have an upper level of administration, that gets out and this is like, so we have the corps that gives 10% or so to the division that gives 10% of their budget to the territory to HQ, then AI HQ funds initiative. I can't help but think that the money that is used to fund the international justice Social Justice Commission would be better used in communities around around the world, for that matter, wherever it's so there's a structural issue that I think the Salvation Army is almost violating its own principles. And this was something that founders of the Salvation Army were cautious of even as they're instituting it.
So, I'm a giver, I'm a donor, okay to want to make sure that the money that Jesus has given me right that in so much as I think he said in the past, these are some organizations you can trust. So give some money to them. They're in the trenches for the cause of the Great Commission and, and the compassionate verses of scripture. Yeah. Can I still trust the Salvation Army Should Christians? Yeah, should spear Phil Christians in the USA, particularly support the Salvation Army?
Yes. Here's why I say that. I but I would never ask anybody. I wouldn't want anybody to just give blindly. You need it. So like I just said, The Salvation Army is always local. So the local expression of the Salvation Army is what's important. And what I encourage you to do, Matt, like you like here we are in the western holding station. The Salvation Army has a doctrine that talks about the authority of Scripture, entire sanctification all those type of things. Well, you need to know what's happened in the Salvation Army where you are And that's why I think it's important for you to investigate. And that's why I like a book like toxic charity by Bob Lupton is something I think really helpful for us to use. He has something here that I think we use in our classes to help talk to people about compassionate ministry. And he has what he calls a Hippocratic oath for service providers. I'm just gonna hit hit a couple of these, like, the first one is this never do things for the poor that they can do for themselves or could have done for themselves that they have the capacity, what we're doing in that case, Lupton says, and this is same with the book, when helping hurts is that we're committing the sin of paternalism, like we're stepping in, like, we almost have a god complex. So we do that. I'll say, most average armies aren't doing that. And there are initiatives that like something called pathway of hope that are really helping people take initiative and the skills that God's given them to thrive in life. But unfortunately, like, you need to know like, you need to check out the beat the Salvation Army in Jackson. And if it is, then I hope you give to it.
Yeah. So it's possible Yeah, to give money to charities that actually hurt the poor rather than help them.
Yes. And I'll say that, I mean, as bold as I can. Salvation Army has done that from the time but I also will say the Salvation Army's doing an amazing job. 125,000 nights of shelter 125,000 nights of shelter last night, right? Where people had a place to stay, because of the ministry of the Salvation Army all around the world. Now, like, just think of what that means. Like, that's a couple football fields, football stadiums full of people. And that's done from a mission based in the gospel. So it's a beautiful thing. But it can be done in the wrong way. Like on my podcast, I talked to Dr. Don Dixon, when we were really critical of a savagery program, that's people are going to throw things at me for this Angel Tree sometimes, where we give gifts to people at Christmas, it can hurt them.
Yeah, Angel terbaru got stories to tell on that one. Okay. Yeah, me has made my congregation feel funny, when we take these gifts to their homes, right, seemed to be doing better for Christmas than we're doing. But the point is, that stuff's not helping them, that doesn't help the poor, right. And that's what I'm most concerned with is in our giving, and in our actions, are we helping more than hurting, and I think that's always a great thing to ask. But the first principle you have here is simply don't do for them something that they ought to be doing for themselves. And we don't
have time to go through all I would love to go through all of them. But part of it is also this principle of exchange, that you give people an opportunity to give something in return, even if it's not, like accumulated to the total that that that what what might be received. Bob often talks about like, Okay, put a price tag on that cuz they're gonna value it more if they participate in it. And that's that that kind of comes back to the same principles of hospitality as we welcome people as we welcome the stranger we value that they're created in God's image. And they like we want them to thrive. And it's not going to happen. And this is kind of like comes from the beginning of the Salvation Army to some of you might know, Dr. Ed McKinley, who taught at probably taught your kids he taught me at Asbury University. He wrote the definitive work on the Salvation Army's history in the United States. I'm gonna read something real quick that he wrote about the early Salvationist. You're going to love this. He says pioneer officers, pastors and service sharing power and pioneer officers were a little concerned with theories of social justice. They knew only that their heavenly commander had ordered his soldier to take in strangers, visit the sick and imprisoned and offer drink to the thirsty and feed the hungry. They also knew that there were souls dying all around them at the first step in saving some of them was to lift them up. So they could hear that such thing as salvation existed.
That's beautiful oil. And one of the things my church always says, yes, we want to run to the sound of the pain he men, and if there's pain in our community, we want to be the local churches there. What I love about the Salvation Army, is that traditionally, and I think even still today, much of the time, that's which you all do well, right, you run to the sound of the pain, amen. And it's extremely do it. But we always got to add in there, there are appropriate ways to do it, and ways that are helpful and ways that we might think are helpful, that are actually hurtful. I love what up what a modern Alaskan once said about Yes. And he would take he's got eight points. Yeah, in his book tragedy of American compassion, but he has eight points, he puts him down to three for speaking purposes. One is, you're going to be helping them in a much stronger likelihood. If you are personally involved with them, you get to know them personally. Right? Amen. So that takes time. That takes effort, right? It's very, very important. And our gospels are relational gospel, amen. So we believe in relationships. That's usually how we're one to the Lord. That's how we stay in the Lord rise relationships. Yeah, not just with Jesus, but with the Church of Jesus Christ. So the poor need personal relationships, right with Christians. Second thing is hold them accountable. Yeah, this is going to give them something. And what we will say is, Listen, if you maintain faith, if you continue to do the right steps, then we'll perhaps give you something else, then we want you to do something more and we want them to have lives of discipleship, making their lives better. Yeah, and hold them accountable. For that life of you know getting better getting more holy getting righteous and finally spiritual, right we want to make sure this thing isn't just built on our nice guy Enos right we're doing this because of God and we're doing it because God wants to build his life in them
and that's what's worked at this avesh army when it has when it is that it works everywhere yeah. Oh, amen. Amen yeah no no no I know when to zeroed in on arm when
you do these three things now I love it. When you do these three things. When when booth did when the current Salvation Army when the church in the Mandarin does and by the way our our founder was every bit as much as passionate about the pours it seemed like even William Booth was but finish breezy was his name. But the whole point is when we have that kind of passion. We've got to make sure that passion is tempered with some common sense,
right? And this is what's interesting like I've had people reach out to me now like I have dealt people whose names are on buildings at Salvation Army's where I've served around the country, and they are concerned like they reached out to me Andy, what, what do we make of this like and even asked me to do this podcast. And so like, as I'm encouraged like the Salvation Army, the reason I'm still in it is like, I believe in the theology, I believe in the way that we actualize the mission in local communities. And here's what was challenging to me. It's like, I feel like some of these expressions, the liberalizing trend, and this avesh army is moving against what I signed up for. It's moving again, it's like it's moving against the articles of faith. And then also, it's moving against those principles that you see put put into place put into practice. When compassionate ministry works when hospitable ministry really works.
Beautiful stuff. Well, listen, can I throw commercial in here? Yeah, go alright. We both work at West hibiscus. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So one of the sponsors of our program today is Wesley biblical seminary. And I've taught here for 33 years. Now I've taught here for five months. Yeah. So we got newbie here and old timer here. But I think we're both willing to say, because of our convictions because of our articles of faith that we live by that we teach. Yeah. And because a great group of people we have in this building right now. We're one of the best seminaries in the world by the grace of God. Hey, man. Hey. So it's a place where you can come and check out the various wonderful things we can offer you. Our lay program is called the Wesley Institute. Are we got an undergraduate program? A college that most people know about yet, but it's up and coming? It's it's Yeah. And then our master's programs, even a doctoral program, a demon program? Something really for all serious disciples. So check us out at WB s dot E D. U. Yeah. So any What else do we need to clean up? Real quick? Yes. It's
like the future of the army. And this is where I get prophetic. And maybe I need to, I might have to walk this back eventually. And it actually You've helped me even so I've been here walk a few things back myself. Right. I wonder about the future of the army at this point. Because as I've talked about the issues with same sex relationships, as I've talked about some Salvationist, who are promoting the idea that our experience and our reason Trump's the authority of Scripture, as we're now talking about this issue of kind of subtle ways that these ideas that can can infect the Christian faith are not positive. So I think there's a time for accountability. And this is what's happened in Methodist churches that there was a lack of accountability, like you have this top down structure, but the top was not able to provide accountability. So it's either accountability. I'm saying this to leaders of the Salvation Army,
know what you're about to say, I can't believe that this would ever happen. But accountability or accountability or division, do you think that could actually happen? That the Salvation Army would divide?
Well, I don't want it to happen. I'd rather there be accountability, but how long and I have George Yancey coming on my podcast here really soon to talk about his book, one faith no longer what's happening is sociologically, theologically, we're existing as two different organizations. One is connected to the articles of faith that we signed on for that donors have supported through years, another takes a form of the faith that devalues scripture that uplifts a heretical view of the human body. And that has a woke trend. And I could get into details of that, of course, that moves against the basic mission of the Salvation Army. So yeah, like, I think we're existing as two different movements. And there can be accountability, or there can be be division, but I not sure that we can keep on walking this line trying to balance well, I don't know what do you think now?
Everybody needs to listen to this because it's happening everywhere, right? Most of our denominations not all, praise God, from whom all blessings flow. Not all but Right. Many of our denominations are struggling with this very thing. And there's always going to be tension and we need to be called to faithfulness. Right. Let's get back to our founding principles we can be found in your articles of faith. Yes. And then I think the the life of salvation and the life of entire salvation of entire sanctification. And we need to get back to those basics and as much as we do, we can have revival and we can have accountability and as much as we don't, we're going to get division. And furthermore, death. Yeah. Oh, man. I mean, some things die right in the movement. And the movement itself can die.
Right? And maybe that's okay. So that new life can spring up. And that's, that's a little rough for me to say, well, maybe we can come back. Next time I'd like to talk to you about you. They do kind of press me about a conversation. We had the hallway here, but I want to talk to you about a few other things. Thanks for joining us on The more to the story podcast with Andy Miller and
and the life changing discipleship program with Matt freedom and we want to check out both of these programs. Yes, we think they're both pretty good and we exist for you.