During the past few months, most Americans have begun to hear the term “Critical Race Theory.” Critical Race Theory, or CRT, is about “race, racism and power”; I will use “CRT” throughout this article. Though the roots of CRT go back to at least the 1970s, the theory has progressed beyond the halls of academia and has become a profound influence on modern society. The problem comes with the general misunderstanding of CRT as being solely about helping fight racism. CRT goes well beyond fighting racism: It not only demands a reordering of American society, but acts as a replacement for the Christian worldview in America. Let me explain.
I have previously written about the ideas of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci; Gramsci relates directly to CRT. Gramsci wrote about the need to overturn the alleged “cultural hegemony” of a society with an alternative narrative as a necessary precursor to communist revolution. Gramsci’s ideas generated what has become known as “Cultural Marxism,” which infiltrated American academia starting as early as the 1940s. CRT was developed at the time many American socialist and/or Marxist academics were adapting Gramscian theory to American society. It was a way to help flip the alleged cultural hegemony through the rhetoric of racism, yet it goes well beyond individual racism. It was developed with a Marxist, therefore materialist and atheist worldview and it focuses on power relationships instead of actual racism.
Richard Delgado’s and Jean Stefancic’s book, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction provides the following insights: “The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism and power … It not only tries to understand our social situation, but to change it; it sets out not only to ascertain how society organizes itself along racial lines and hierarchies, but to transform it for the better.”
Delgado and Stefancic write that CRT holds “racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society … the individual racist need not exist (in order for) institutional racism [to be] pervasive in the dominant culture.” In other words, even if whites, as an alleged dominant group, are not individually racist, racism still exists and will exist due to whites being a dominant culture. The only seeming way to end racism is ending the alleged cultural hegemony, though CRT seems to hold whites as irredeemably racist without means of redemption.
UCLA’s School of Public Affairs provides perhaps the iconic statement of CRT. The statement is rooted in Marxist understanding of materialism, power relationship and atheist worldview. According to the school of public affairs CRT is justified “based on white privilege and white supremacy, which perpetuates the marginalization of people of color.”
Non-whites are alleged to be systematically oppressed by cultural hegemonic structures. Regardless of whether or not whites are racist and whether the system allows legal equal opportunity, white privilege and white supremacy is assumed to exist. CRT doesn’t seek to fix individual acts of racism, but is committed to transforming the hegemony. Ironically, whites can “never” question the basis of CRT: If you question it, you are proving your racism. Additionally, CRT holds that those in the alleged dominant group cannot know about racism, but those in the non-dominant group always understand racism. If one from the dominant group denies something had a racist intent, the non-dominant group is the final judge and only one to understand what is actually racism.
As nationally recognized theologian, pastor and author John F. MacArthur has noted about the threat of CRT to Christianity: “CRT (along with every other Marxist ideology) cannot be reconciled with what the Bible teaches about sin and salvation. First, to view all relationships in terms of power dynamics requires that people be seen in terms of the powerful (privileged, oppressors) and the powerless (marginalized, oppressed). Apart from striking out against God-ordained hierarchies and authority structures (by evaluating them as oppressive power structures), this way of viewing the world fails to evaluate people in their primary relationship, which is as creatures made in the image of their Creator. He who defines the problem gets to define the solution.
“If the main problem for ‘people of color’ is that they are inevitably oppressed by structures that are inherently oppressive, then the only solution is to tear down those structures in the pursuit of justice. This way of thinking at the very least clouds the fact revealed in the Bible that every person’s fundamental problem is that they have sinned against the holy God who created them. This is true for people in any and every category — whether oppressed or oppressor, victim or victimizer, marginalized or privileged. The fundamental need, therefore, of every person is to be reconciled to God. This is exactly what has been provided through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In other words, mankind’s greatest need is met in the gospel.”
The Christian worldview has been the American worldview from the start of the nation. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of America a half century after its founding: “There is no country on Earth in which the Christian religion holds greater sway over the souls of men than in America.”
Part of that worldview is the acceptance of the equal sin condition of every man, regardless of race and the equal need for forgiveness and redemption through Jesus Christ. It is not a worldview of group power struggles and materialism, as with atheistic communism. As the Bible asserts about the focus on the importance of individual redemption and unity in Christ in Galatians 3:27-28, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
CRT is diametrically opposed to the Christian worldview. Marx held that “religion is the opiate of the people” and that his principal aim in life was to dethrone God and destroy capitalism. CRT has all the characteristics of a religion and acts as a competitor religion to Christianity in America. It even has a special, almost mystical, knowledge of racism by non-dominant groups that dominant groups cannot know. Unlike Christianity, CRT holds the alleged cultural hegemony (founded on the Christian worldview) is the root of all problems and must be overturned. The Christian focus on individual recognition of sin, regardless of place in any alleged power structure and the need for redemption through Christ is anathema to CRT. With this, CRT follows the Gramscian alternative narrative holds that American history that of an evil oppression of minority groups by a cultural hegemony that must be undermined and flipped. The next step is a communist revolution in following Gramsci to the end.
America is at a crossroads. Our future is in question. We can continue with the America envisioned by our founders and enjoy the greatest nation on earth, or we can follow ideas like CRT to see the end of the American experiment; the choice is ours.
Bill Connor is a 1990 Citadel Graduate, 30-year Army infantry colonel and combat veteran. He is a writer and attorney and lives in the Charleston area.