Salvation Army's Popularity Takes a Hit When Tied to Its Anti-Racism Campaign, Poll Finds

A new independent survey shows the polarizing way in which The Salvation Army's recent anti-racism campaign has affected support for the international charitable organization.

The poll of 1,200 registered voters conducted this week by Rasmussen showed a dramatic 24 percent drop by respondents seeing The Salvation Army in a "very favorable" light since its introduction of its "Let's Talk About Racism" initiative.

Specifically, when asked about how they see the organization now that it has incorporated training that "America is a structurally racist society," 23 percent of respondents said they view the organization "very unfavorably" while 21 percent answered they see SA in a "very favorable" light. That's compared to 45 percent of those who answered they have a "very favorable" impression of the organization when asked how they viewed the organization in general, and without the new initiative. Only 5 percent said they viewed SA "unfavorably" when sharing their perspective generally speaking.

Fearless Girl Statue in Salvation Army outfit
A new survey shows the polarizing way in which The Salvation Army's recent anti-racism initiative has affected support for the international charitable organization. Above, a "Fearless Girl Statue" across from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) displays a Salvation Army uniform for the holiday season on December 10, 2020, in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty

The survey conducted online from Dec. 6 to Dec. 8 by RMG Research included 1,200 registered voters and applied certain quotas while taking into account geography, gender, age, race, education, Internet usage and political party. RMG is owned by Scott Rasmussen, an American public opinion pollster and political analyst who founded Rasmussen Reports.

"The fact that it (the 'Let's Talk About Race' initiative) caused 42 percent of respondents to both be more likely and less likely to donate suggests extreme movement caused by [Critical Race Theory] (CRT) ideology," said Kenny Xu, president of Color Us United, which advocates for a race-blind America.

RMG Research survey
RMG Research

Xu's organization recently launched its "Just Say It" campaign, which asks The Salvation Army to publicly state that America is not a racist country.

"That is incredible by any standard and shows how divisive and political CRT truly is to the majority of Americans, completely eliminating any argument the SA has saying that it is not endorsing any 'political' ideology," Xu told Newsweek. It (the survey) shows that CRT is a heavily emotional, political, and polarizing ideology."

Joseph Cohen, external communications manager for The Salvation Army, told Newsweek via email, "The Salvation Army remains focused on its mission of serving those in need without discrimination during this holiday, but it is disappointing to see a poll that uses such patently false information in its questions, such as stating that The Salvation Army's 'new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program presents the view that America is a structurally racist society.' That is simply not true and misleads the public."

"Our message is still based on the Bible. Our ministry is still motivated by the love of God. And our mission is still to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination," he added.

It was in July that The Salvation Army disseminated its new initiative through its International Social Justice Commission to field officers by the organization's four territorial commanders. In January, active officers in The Salvation Army's western territory were trained in matters of racial equity in a compulsory manner. The agenda for the Territorial Virtual Officers' Councils on Racial Equity workshop mirrored the "Let's Talk About Racism" resource put out by the commission and was required of current officers.

Responding to Newsweek's request for comment at the time, Cohen said the SA has in no way changed its views or adopted any new ideology like CRT. He did confirm that the organization does provide voluntary discussion guides on various topics but that they are voluntary.

In summary, the curriculum outlines alleged Christian racial complicity and provides action steps to analyze and combat racism through an "anti-racist" lens while incorporating CRT. Definitions of institutional and systemic racism are included with sections addressing topics including police brutality, health care and Black unemployment, linking them to "racial inequity."

The initiative drew criticism from many stalwart supporters including Christian apologist and radio talk show host Greg Koukl, who publicly noted he would no longer be a donor to SA.

Xu wrote a commentary published in the conservative news website The Daily Signal, which addressed the commission's mixing of "admirable human rights works with politically charged advocacy based in politics."

Now, through Color Us United's "Just Say It" campaign, he's asking SA officials to publicly declare that American is not racist.

"America is not a racist country – in fact, it is the country that enables The Salvation Army to do its good works for the poor and marginalized across the world," said Xu, noting that the U.S. funds a significant portion of the organization's worldwide operations in Africa, Asia and South America. "Why would a racist country do something like that? This is why donors feel so betrayed because The Salvation Army is putting the people that so lavishly allow them to do their good works – they're throwing them under the bus."