The Critical Race Theory Moral Panic and the Southern Baptist Convention

There are two very odd things about the recent hyping of ‘critical race theory.’ First, I think a lot of people–even White ones!–wouldn’t disagree with the premise that the legal system has built in structural biases against Black people. Of course, that’s not how Republicans are weaponizing the term, but, still, it’s not something new or even, post-George Floyd, that controversial for many people.

What’s even weirder is how they spun this out of whole cloth. With “defund the police”, there was an actual slogan on the left, construed broadly, that was used and argued about for a significant length of time. People wrote it on signs, and argued for it in columns. But that didn’t happen with critical race theory. It wasn’t discussed at Democratic conventions, protests, or even mentioned by the left very often. It really seems to have been conjured out of thin air. Though, in an article about the schism in the Southern Baptists, I did find this (boldface mine):

Messengers will confront a series of measures likely including the propriety of women delivering sermons, the handling of sexual abuse and a denunciation of critical race theory, the concept that historical patterns of racism remain ingrained in modern American society and institutions….

Mr. Jolly, who will attend his first annual meeting, watched with alarm as public schools in his area have begun to teach what he describes as critical race theory. And he was shocked when high-profile leaders in his own denomination endorsed aspects of the sprawling racial protest movement last summer. “I think C.R.T. is one of these destructive heresies that have snuck in,” he said, referring to a passage in the New Testament book of 2 Peter about false teachers who bring “swift destruction on themselves.”

At its 2019 meeting, the convention affirmed that critical race theory could be an “analytical tool” useful to faithful Christians, a move that many conservatives describe as alarming. Its current president, J.D. Greear, urged Southern Baptists last summer to declare that “Black lives matter.”

I wonder if part of the moral panic about critical race theory can be traced to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) raising and supporting it. Needless to say, the SBC, to this left-ish type, isn’t really part of the left, regardless of how broadly one construes the left: this doesn’t mean Southern Baptists can’t be part of the left, but no one would describe the SBC itself as a left-aligned organization. I could imagine this being the first introduction, such as it was, for many at the convention to critical race theory.

Given the close ties between many Southern Baptists and the Republican Party, I wonder if this primed conservatives for the critical race theory moral panic.

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3 Responses to The Critical Race Theory Moral Panic and the Southern Baptist Convention

  1. Michael Leon says:

    Mike, CRT, or the sprawling and dynamic set of propositions to which it has morphed, seems to me trivially true about some observations and facts of American history. What began in a few law schools and books is itself kind-of crazy and demented.
    I don’t believe it’s fair comment to dismiss as “panic,” what appears more a wide repulsion towards the woke dopes and corporatists race-cons in the Dems, media and universities.
    I mean we have Robin DiAngelo peddling her nonsense and taboos, and claiming that she has discovered a truth so real that to dare question it reveals one as a racist. I think DiAngelo is delusional, but I also think she is a self-conscious liar, though she claims she is just an objective, critical scholar.
    I don’t bother finding out what the Baptists think.
    But as someone who has fought racism for some 45 years, I know that public schools rarely teach critical thinking, and I don’t expect them to begin with whatever is used to present CRT.
    I expressed some healthy skepticism towards CRT on twitter and the woke dopes replied with hysterical lies and invective. Are these idiots the keepers of the faith?
    I am beginning to think that the vast majority of folks under 35 don’t believe in evidence, arguments, empirical reasoning and rationality. But what is really key for so many, especially the woke dopes, is how they feel.
    Anti-rational taboo ethics leads directly to authoritarianism, and young libs seem to have much in common with rightwing Republicans.
    I don’t trust CRT to be taught in the public schools, I mean I don’t what to ban it; I just think most people in schools and universities are too stupid.

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