When Christianity is reduced to a social program, God is left to an afterthought. And when God is an afterthought, it’s no surprise that faith in God would be abandoned when belief in God becomes inconvenient. Why tithe to your church when you could give to the ACLU? Why sit through a Sunday sermon when you already participated in antiracism training at work?
Ibram X. Kendi, today’s most prominent advocate for critical race theory, is under investigation for the potential mismanagement of tens of millions of donors’ dollars. Perhaps more interestingly for readers of WORLD, Kendi is also the secularized son of progressive Christianity.
While the legacy media is understandably focused on the mass layoffs, financial issues, and criticisms of “employment violence” being leveled at the Center for Antiracist Research that Kendi founded at Boston University, it’s worth taking a step back to reckon more broadly with the social trends that formed Ibram Kendi into a social justice warrior in the first place.
As John McWhorter explains in Woke Racism, critical race theory is a “religion in all but name,” which helps explain “why something so destructive and incoherent is so attractive to so many good people.” What McWhorter misses, however, is that this new religion emerged, in large part, out of a progressive stream of Christianity that no longer had a convenient place for God in its worldview.
Perhaps most surprising is that Kendi more or less acknowledged this in his breakout book, How to Be an Antiracist: “I cannot disconnect my parents’ religious strivings to be Christian from my secular strivings to be an antiracist.” He writes, “my own, still-ongoing journey toward being an antiracist began at Urbana ‘70,” referring to a triennial conference put on by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a parachurch ministry that serves college campuses. Kendi’s parents met in the leadup to the InterVarsity conference in 1970, which they had decided to attend because Tom Skinner, who was “growing famous as a young evangelist of Black liberation theology,” would be there.