Carol Swain Commentary: Critical Race Theory and Christian Education

by Carol M. Swain


“Next to that of the family, there is no influence more potent for good or evil over the lives of individuals than the associations of school days.” David Lipscomb (Lipscomb University co-founder).

Christian education is in deep trouble when educators adopt the failed theories of the secular world and teach them as superior or equivalent to biblical teachings about how we ought to live our lives as Christ followers.

What was once a dangerous trend only in Christian universities has seeped down into private Christian academies. This has been done through the introduction of critical race theory into the middle and upper schools. “Woke” white and black teachers fancy themselves social justice warriors.

Critical race theory is rooted in cultural Marxism; its purpose to divide the world into white oppressors and non-white victims. It uses personal narratives of marginalized minority “victim” groups (black, Hispanic, female, and homosexuals) as irrefutable evidence of the dishonesty of their mostly white heterosexual oppressors.

When it comes to race, there is no way out. Critical race theory assumes that racism is permanent and affects every aspect of our society to include political, economic, social and religious institutions. Being born with white skin is valuable property, and any notion of societal attainment of colorblindness, where race or ethnicity does not hinder opportunities is impossible. Neutrality in law and decision making is a pipe dream that can never be achieved. Therefore, the oppressive system must be dismantled and destroyed.

This flawed theory of the world suggests that race and ethnicity will always taint and pollute every decision, the result being that racial minorities will consistently lose out to whites because of structural racism.

The message is clear: If you are unfortunate enough to be born with black skin, you are forever a second-class citizen who pays a race penalty. Under this reasoning, the most-affluent blacks rank below the poorest whites when it comes to privilege and opportunities. More than 50 years of affirmative action programs and race consciousness has done nothing to change the trajectory or opportunities of people born without white skin. According to critical theory, every dysfunctional condition in black urban communities can be traced to slavery and its aftermath. There is no place for individual choice initiative.

Critical race theory can create anger, frustration, and despondency among anyone in the victim categories who internalize the destructive message.

Messages Matter

Fortunately, I reached my formative years before critical race theory and cultural Marxism became as commonplace as they are today. Even though I was born and raised in rural southern poverty during the era of segregation, I was not taught to hate white people or to hate America. To the contrary, my black teachers stressed our need to work hard and excel. I was a proud American who never doubted she lived in the greatest country in the world. Sure, I knew about segregation and the Ku Klux Klan, but I also knew change was coming. My black teachers talked about integration and the opportunities it would bring black people.

Although I dropped out of school after finishing the eighth grade, married at age 16 and had three children by age 20, I nevertheless earned a high school equivalency and eventually five college and university degrees. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia while working a full-time job nights and weekends at Virginia Western Community College where I earned my first degree. I have always valued hard work and the promise of the American Dream.

When I made my way to college, white teachers and mentors encouraged me to continue my education. They steered me into academia, where I excelled. No one around me encouraged me to see myself as a victim. I never fixated on the fact that I was black, poor, and female in a majority white milieu. I doubt I would have achieved success had I been exposed to the negative messages we send white and black children today. I think it is disgraceful how we teach children to view each other with suspicion and distrust.

What takes place now in educational settings is a shaming and emasculation of white children, especially boys. Black children are encouraged to identify as victims and to organize themselves into separate racial categories. That gives us black student unions and organizations such as Black Lives Matter that insist it is hate speech to argue All Lives Matter.

It is unfortunate that these negative messages fostering division have not only encompassed university campuses but are now flourishing in K-12 Christian schools. One white student at Lipscomb Academy in Nashville reported to his parents that he was barred from entering the library because the Black Student Union was meeting there.

Many of the black children who attend private Christian academies are on scholarships paid for by white people, yet the race agenda and harbingers of gloom and doom tell them that white racism is harming them. There can be no grounds for gratitude and forgiveness.

When I look out on the horizon, I view race relations from the perspective of a black woman who believes in God’s providence and the prospect of racial reconciliation that comes from forgiveness and the application of New Testament principles. It is time for us to rediscover the Golden Rule (to do unto others as you would have them do unto you). I believe this would go a long way toward bringing understanding to people of goodwill regardless of their race or religious background.

It is important to keep in mind that today’s Americans are not responsible for the sins of generations ago. Furthermore, slavery was an institution that blacks, native Americans, and whites participated in as slaveholders. Black slaveholders did not just own family members, some were in the business for profit.

Religious organizations and the church world are no longer safe. It does not matter whether it is the Church of Christ or the Southern Baptists. Social justice warriors steeped in Marxism have infiltrated and begun the process of dismantling the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). In summer 2019, the SBC passed a resolution endorsing critical race theory and intersectionality as analytical tools for understanding race in America. This is troubling because of the theory’s Marxist roots. Instead of class warfare between workers and owners, Marxism always promises never-ending conflict between victims and oppressors.

According to the narrative, all white Americans are guilty oppressors who have benefitted from membership in a race we know they did not get to choose. Once the oppressor label is accepted and internalized, a deadly silencing and shaming takes place. The shamed oppressor is not allowed to engage in a conversation with accusers. At younger and younger ages, our children are being taught to suck it up. There is nothing to absolve one from collective guilt or permanent victimhood. How very sad! But it is not too late for us to choose unity over division.

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Dr. Carol M. Swain is a former tenured professor at Vanderbilt and Princeton universities. Her Be the People News blog and podcast empower individuals to think independently, understand their responsibility, and make a difference in the world. Her latest books are Debating Immigration: Second Edition (2018) and Abduction: How Liberalism Steals Our Children’s Hearts and Minds (2016).







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8 Thoughts to “Carol Swain Commentary: Critical Race Theory and Christian Education”

  1. […] Baptist and former professor hounded out of Vanderbilt University by the vicious left, recently lamented the infiltration of Marxist Critical Race Theory into the Southern Baptist […]

  2. Kaci

    Thank you, Carol. I’ve said for years, I think one of the most difficult children to parent now is the white male. He’s getting attacked from all sides, from a racial and sexist standpoint and simply struggle not knowing how to BE in the world. The Lipscomb saga is completely out of hand. To think, they hired someone, full time, as a dean, who refers to God as a SHE is completely against the church of Christ’s doctrine and beliefs, and yet, this is the woman they’ve chosen to guide these developing young minds is careless.

  3. William R. Delzell

    I spent most of my school life in Nashville’s public SECULAR schools from roughly 1960 to 1970, and got an EXCELLENT education. I attended one of the few public school in Metro Nashville that offered four years of French foreign language training in conversation, grammar, and literature. I also took English language arts and history/social sciences classes that taught us critical thinking skills that enabled us to question authority when it was bad authority and to respect it when it was good authority. Would a fundamentalist-dominated academy have offered me those skills? I seriously doubt it although I do know that some religiously-affiliated schools did offer good curriculum in certain academic disciplines.

    Only once did I attend a private school (Junior High), and that was in Rome, Italy, when my dad had a one-year research scholarship in his field of Italian History.

    The teacher at our Nashville public schools all had connections with the faculty at Vanderbilt and were themselves well educated.

    While some religious schools can offer a decent education, I am wary of the practice of forcing a religious doctrine down the throats of young people, especially if that doctrine stifles genuine inquiry.

    Moreover, prayers in public schools can actually DAMAGE freedom of religion by having the government subsidize a given religious denomination. Such a practice can make religion financially dependent upon the government, thereby undermining its own freedom. That is why we have separation of church from state so that the government cannot establish one denomination of religion over that of another or over that of secularism. The U.S. believes not only in freedom of religion, but also of the freedom not to worship at all if one so chooses.

    Swain, don’t mess with the Constitution!

    1. David Castleberry

      Please read the Constitution. There is NO statement concerning separating church and state. It clearly states …..

  4. Nya Major

    Growing up in Baltimore Maryland, I grew up between 2 worlds. And I didn’t realize this until years after graduating from college. For me, it was a struggle to get through college, it seemed as if everything was working against me to get through it.

    Before college, I attend both a middle school and high school that focused on engineering, math and science. So I was pretty confident in that area of my intellect. However, my freshman college academic Advisor looked at me intently in my eyes, I’ll never forget what he said. He said, “You don’t have the mental intellect suited for Biological Sciences; you’re best suited for a degree in Africana Studies or Women’s Studies.”

    I rejected that; and changed my Advisor. However, there was a slow chipping away at my self-esteem from my peers and college professors. To the point that I ended up adopting a victim mentality. I’d come to realize that this victim mentality was planted in me; and eventually bloomed under the right Liberal conditions.

    I eventually hit a glass-ceiling on what I thought was possible for my life. It’s as if I’d ran to the end of my program. Never designed to be more than what Liberalism declared me to be.

    It wasn’t until, I had a genuine experience with Jesus Christ. That my eyes began to open. And I began the process of pruning my life. Most people have no clue what it’s like waking up to the reality that you’ve been experimented with; dealing with invisible barriers that seem like they weigh tons.

    I firmly believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has full capability of breaking the spell of “critical race theory,” this is why the Left has infiltrated the Church and Christian schools.

    This is a great article that I’d wish had been available to me 20 years ago; it would have made so many things clear to me a lot sooner…

    1. Michael

      Nice comment. It can only take the power in the name of Jesus to effectively destroy the influence of the satan-inspired critical critical race theory

      1. Michael Knight

        Brainwashed much?

  5. Wolf Woman

    Well said, an excellent commentary! I only wish every middle school and high school student in America could read it. Thank you, Carol Swain.