Last week was not an easy one for me for a number of reasons, including health. But last Tuesday night’s election results greatly brightened my gloom. I was especially glad to see that loathsome Clinton hack Terry McAuliffe finally get defeated in what was Blue Virginia. Manifold implications of Tuesday night were also encouraging, and I was intending to write quickly an erudite piece on those. But an infection (not COVID) made me feel weaker than the Virginia Democrat Party on Wednesday. So that will probably never get written. But, even if last Tuesday is old news already, churches enamored with Critical Theory, aka “wokeness”, had best take it to heart.
For what happened in Virginia was in part a reaction against Critical Theory, its subset Critical Race Theory (CRT) to be exact. Parents in Loudoun County and elsewhere were enraged that their children were being taught CRT. McAuliffe foolishly got on the wrong side of the mad dads and moms by saying during a televised debate, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
The campaign of his opponent, Glenn Youngkin, made much political hay of that. And when McAuliffe insisted that CRT was not being taught in schools, the Youngkin campaign easily proved he was not only wrong, but that the Virginia Dept. of Education pushed CRT during McAuliffe’s past terms as governor.
There were other issues in the campaign, and this was the first opportunity for Virginia voters to stick it to Brandon, I mean, Biden. But CRT in the public schools was an important factor nonetheless.
Nor should the importance of the election itself be underestimated. Virginia had become a blue state. Republicans had not won a Gubernatorial election there since 2009 nor a Presidential election since 2004. Biden beat Trump in Virginia in 2020 by 10 percentage points. McAuliffe was a past governor; Youngkin was a political neophyte. The Democrat Party went all in to get McAuliffe elected by bringing in a number of stars, including Obama. Not only that, Virginia elections are rigged toward Democrats, thanks largely to McAuliffe himself. But Youngkin won anyway.
By the way, Republican Winsome Sears, who happens to be a black woman and a Marine, won the Lt. Governor’s contest. Have you noticed the great rejoicing over this from woke and woke church leaders? I haven’t either. Strange.
Wokeness took hits elsewhere in the nation as well. A proposal to abolish the police in Minneapolis went down in flames. School Board members fine with CRT were tossed out in Colorado. A very woke anti-police candidate for City Attorney in Seattle was defeated . . . by a Republican . . . in Seattle.
Of course, one should not exaggerate the rejection of CRT in the elections last week. Indoctrinating children in public schools and abolishing the police are particularly noxious aspects of CRT, not the whole. One should not assume Seattle hates Critical Theory as a whole. But neither should one be in denial that CRT/wokeness hurt Democrats significantly.
And they know it. Some of them knew it before Election Day. Why otherwise did McAuliffe and other Democrats and the news media (But I repeat myself.) go to pains to insist that Critical Race Theory is a phony issue and that there is no CRT to see here?
Now this election does not mean Christians should reject wokeness any more than they should reject being pro-life or for traditional marriage. We should support and do the right thing regardless of election returns or popularity. Jesus said and did what was right even (especially?) when it made people unhappy, and we should follow his example.
But woke ideologies are not right. We have frequently asserted that and will spare you further reassertion for now. The difference after last week is that another lesser argument for being woke is crumbling and fast. Is wokeness under various guises such as “justice” winsome or missional? Woke churches often make a point to be “missional” and “winsome”. Well, although wokeness surely remains attractive to some, it has become more clear just how repellant it is to many, even in blue areas of the country. Much of the church growth movement has adopted wokeness, but it is becoming clear that going woke is a good way to shrink a church.
Backing up and looking at the bigger picture, evangelicalism since at least the 70’s has a problem with aping what is trendy in culture only soon to look silly. Long before preachers in sneakers, there were preachers in polyester leisure suits.
What has caused more damage, far more, has been evangelicalism joining mainline Christianity in getting too tied to political trends. In 1980, the Moral Majority was right to oppose abortion and other evils what we then called liberals were pushing. But it became too focused on politics – Jerry Falwell’s “Old Time Gospel Hour” became less and less about the Gospel – and too wedded to the Republican Party even on issues that had little to do with faith and morality. Today Big Evangelicalism is right that we need to persist in throwing off the real racism of the past; but it has gotten tied to the Democrat Party and to neo-racism, namely Critical Race Theory. That, too, has distracted from the Gospel.
Like the Moral Majority, this neo-racist wokeness is driving people away from the church. I’ve seen this personally as I’ve talked with people fleeing woke churches; clergy have told me of hearing from fleeing people. And now we have an election demonstrating how repellant wokeness is even in blue areas of the country. People with common sense won’t put up with this garbage, neither should they.
So wokeness is not only wrong; it is harming the church and driving people away. Churches pushing the false gospel of wokeness need to repent. Churches tolerating their clergy pushing wokeness under church auspices need to repent as well.
These would also do well to throw off the Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now’s penchant of following the next shiny object and instead prioritize one Bible, the two Testaments, the three Creeds, the first four Ecumenical Councils, and the first five centuries of God guiding the church. This one time member of the Church of What’s Happening Now has so repented, so it can be done with God’s help.
But I’m not holding my breath. Instead, I expect the Woke Church crowd to change their labeling while continuing to push the same poison. Like McAuliffe and other Democrats, they will posture: “Critical Race Theory? Wokeness? There’s no CRT or wokeness here! Those are just racist dog whistles of white supremacy! We are just advocating Justice!” That’s how Evil works. It doesn’t come up to you wearing horns and hooves and say, “Hi I’m evil. Would you like to do some evil today?” Evil deceives even its advocates and dresses itself up as good and just.
But I suspect the Woke Church is beginning to fail and will eventually become an irrelevant byword as the Emerging Church did. More people inside and outside the church are wising up to woke deceptions. But the damage to the church in the meantime will likely be grave, not unlike the damage wokeness is doing to this country. Let us pray church authorities prevent more harm to the church and to souls by quickly gaining the common sense of Virginia voters.
(Photo: Tom Brenner/Reuters)