We thought churches and their institutions would be safe.
While radical ideologies such as Critical Race Theory and gender fluidity have dominated recent headlines concerning public school indoctrination, other once-trusted institutions are increasingly adopting the “religion” of the social justice movement1. Mainline Protestant denominations, Catholic orders, traditionally conservative evangelical churches, and many of the seminaries that prepare church leaders are speaking and teaching the political language of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)2. Marxism is the underlying ideology3, which is alarming when one considers Christian theology and the founding principles of this country4.
Ripped from the headlines
Increasingly frequent news stories tell the tale of a very public leftist lurch of many faith-based institutions:
- Methodist University Exhibits Photo of Student Depicting Jesus as Gay
- Duke Divinity School Students Pray to ‘Great Queer One’ During Worship Service (https://www.toddstarnes.com/campus/duke-university-students-pray-to-great-queer-one-during-worship-service/)
- Former Campus Crusade for Christ Labels Christian Theology a Racist Oppressive Ideology of Whiteness (https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/june/cru-divided-over-emphasis-on-race.html)
- Southern Baptist Convention President Highlights “White Privilege” as a Serious Moral Issue for Christians (https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2019/02/woke_evangelicals_cultivating_victimhood_vanquishing_conscience.html)
- Identity Politics Taught in Presbyterian PCA Seminary (https://capstonereport.com/2019/12/12/identity-politics-taught-in-presbyterian-pca-seminary/33505/)
- Over 100 Christian Colleges Have Ties to Planned Parenthood (https://www.christianpost.com/news/over-100-christian-colleges-tied-to-planned-parenthood-report.html)
- Woke Theory Taught at Evangelical Colleges (https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2021/10/woke-theory-at-evangelical-colleges)
- Seminary Leader Under Fire for Exposing Woke Critical Race Theory in Churches (https://metrovoicenews.com/seminary-leader-under-fire-for-exposing-woke-critical-race-theory-in-churches/)
- Communism Seeks to Corrupt Churches to Bring Down America: Trevor Loudon (https://www.theepochtimes.com/communism-seeks-to-corrupt-churches-to-bring-down-america-trevor-loudon_4349905.html)
How did these ideologies creep into so much of the fabric of America?
The slow but persistent infiltration of American culture has been going on for years, but most of us were completely unaware. The goal of Marxist regimes worldwide has always been to destroy western civilization5. A key target is faith and the family, as expertly described by Noelle Mering in “The Christian Response to Wokeness.”6
Italian communist Antonio Gramsci asserted that success in this takeover would require a “long march through the institutions” of capitalist and Christian societies7. Most institutions in the United States have already been compromised, unfortunately, as we see every day in universities, public schools, media, entertainment, government, and even medicine8 and law.
Promoting Marxism as biblical.
Although our culture is increasingly secular and politically progressive, average Christians assume their churches will be immune to anti-American and particularly anti-Christian influences. After all, this country was founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs. Ivy League universities were created to prepare students for the ministry, and Christian principles were recognized throughout the nation as important for healthy families and communities.
The strategy for church takeovers: hijack the language and the Scriptures.
Marxists know that language is a key vehicle for confusing and then convincing their opposition. “Jesus was a socialist”9 is a common leftist mantra that attempts to mold New Testament exhortations to care for the poor and underprivileged into a commandment to rid western civilization of its capitalist underpinnings. Critical Race Theory’s “oppressed vs oppressor”10 ideology is disguised as “unity through diversity” among social justice Christians. In fact, Christianity is viewed by the truly woke as one of society’s greatest oppressors.
A worrisome story every day.
Christian news media over the past few years have been littered with stories of prominent church leaders and organizations abandoning their faith entirely or moving toward progressivism. It is a long list, with many recognizable names11. New York Magazine columnist Andrew Sullivan recently described this as a “cult of social justice, whose followers show the same zeal as any born-again Evangelical. They are filling the void that Christianity once owned”12.
There are pastors and theologians13 who recognize and are willing to speak out against this extreme leftist trend. As gospel language and traditional values are compromised, conservative leaders warn that the Church increasingly “accommodates the values of the world over the values of the Kingdom of God, the mission of the gospel, and the truth of God’s Word14. Of course, these pastors risk being cancelled by those on the social justice bandwagon.
Christian colleges are vulnerable.
Unfortunately, like so many institutions of higher education, Christian colleges are in danger of succumbing to the growing Marxist narrative. Stories about “racialized campus caste systems” and the need to “fight white supremacy” have recently appeared in the news with such notable institutions as Wheaton College (Billy Graham’s alma mater), Baylor University, and Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama15. In a recent national study of 784 Christian colleges and universities, Students for Life of America (SFLA) discovered that one in eight of these campuses has a relationship with Planned Parenthood16. Diversity officers, radicalized faculty, and timid presidents are losing sight of the founding missions of their colleges.
Important voices are sounding the alarm.
It is vital that parents, families, and even current pastors understand that they cannot assume their denominations, seminaries, and Christian colleges are safe from being overtaken by benign-sounding cultural Marxism. One place to start is a 2021 documentary by Pastor Cary Gordon and noted filmmaker Trevor Loudon called “Enemies Within: The Church”17, the latest in Loudon’s “Enemies Within” documentary series. Pastor Gordon interviews a variety of theologians, Christian church leaders, and culture observers who describe the “contagion of the Social Justice Gospel”18 in today’s church.
Two other excellent resources are Dr. Owen Strachan19, Provost and Research Professor of Theology at Grace Bible Theological Seminary, and Noelle Mering, a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Dr. Strachan is a frequent speaker on his new book, Christianity and Wokeness: How the Social Justice Movement Is Hijacking the Gospel — and the Way to Stop It.20 Mering’s book, Awake, Not Woke: A Christian Response to the Cult of Progressive Ideology21 and her recent YouTube interview22 offer clear insights into the development of the social justice movement in the church.
Moms are fighting the progressive cult.
Alisa Childers23 is a Christian singer, songwriter, author, and mother who uses her popular apologetics blog and YouTube channel to explore progressive ideology in the church and its institutions. Krista Bontrager, host of the “Theology Mom” podcast,24 also discusses important issues in education, popular culture, and the new world that parents must navigate for their children.
The gospel vs Critical Race Theory on campus
Grove City College, a private Christian college in Pennsylvania, recently reasserted its Christian values and rejected Critical Race Theory’s “politicized worldview”25. This is an active debate in the evangelical world and has led to many resources such as the Gospel Shaped Family’s26 list of “Christian Colleges Without Critical Race Theory.” Other organizations such as InterVarsity provide guidance on “How to Choose a College and Keep Your Faith”27 for secular and faith-based higher education.
What should parents know?
Parents and families must be able to recognize social justice language on college websites: in mission statements, in academic programs and course requirements, and in faculty research priorities. Student Life programs in residence halls and student organizations can also signal leftist leanings.
The Christian website Classical Difference28 suggests that parents and students ask these questions of admissions officers at any Christian colleges they are considering:
- Are there required courses based on Critical Race Theory? Anything about racial justice, equity, and white privilege is a red flag.
- Is there a campus Diversity and Inclusion Office?
- Does the college restrict or punish speech that questions Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ activism, or other Marxist ideologies? This can be in the classroom, with outside speakers, and in student organizations’ activities.
As InterVarsity counsels, Christian and secular colleges need to be able to honestly describe what the climate is like on their campuses29.
We must educate ourselves and then take action.
Fortunately, parents and other concerned citizens have experts, insiders, and highly accessible resources to help navigate this new landscape. Those who promote the “social justice gospel” are counting on our being uninformed about its true meaning, so we must not be fooled by the jargon. It is not too late to stop a takeover of our treasured Christian institutions.