At the Gate: CRT

Sitting at the gate, I see the necessity and urgency for critical thinking. Without it, our survival is at stake. Tragically, we are living in a time when critical thinking is in short supply—and worse, when it is discouraged and caricatured as being “woke.” Opponents demean those who advocate critical thinking, working to insure it is not taught in schools and putting “sanitized history” in its place, so that those with “white-washed” brains (pun intended) will blindly follow them.

If you read the title of this blog and the previous paragraph thinking I am referring to the opposition of Critical Race Theory, you are partly correct. Anti-CRT sentiment is a major expression of supremacists, who fear truth and institutionalize policies and systems to keep it hidden. We rightly resist these efforts and vow to vote against CRT-opponents when they stand for re-election.

But today, I am focusing on another resisted CRT—Critical Religion Theory. Simply put, there are some religion adherents (e.g. Christian Nationalists) who do not want us to think critically about religion so as to see its dark sides, which are longstanding and legion. They insist on sanitizing religious history so that only “the light and the glory” are seen. Biblically, this means minimizing or ignoring imperialism in Scripture (political-religious collusion to advance the few and oppress the many). Historically, it means omitting such things as the persecution of Aramaic Christians (4th CE), Aryanism, the Doctrine of Discovery (multiple papal edicts, 15th-16th CE), Manifest Destiny, Jim Crow, the New Jim Crow, etc. Theologically, it means drawing on Christian Dominionism and its multiplied manifestations in contemporary Christian Fundamentalism. Culturally, it is enshrining oppression in the plethora of “America First” movements, some of which thrive through survivalist hate groups willing to engage in armed insurrection. I have written previous posts about these things; many others have written a lot more, and written better.

Today, it all boils to this: opposition to CRT (race and religion) is opposition to reality. We call it obscurantism. And this is why supremacists engage in it: if they can blind us to the evil of the past, they know we will not see the evil they are doing in the present. Jesus said they do this, preferring darkness to light, because their deeds are evil (John 3:19-20). Jesus also said he came to recover sight to the blind (Luke 4:18) so we could have eyes that see (Mark 8:18). The sight Jesus gives is “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”—and he said this truth sets us free (John 8:32).

Thomas Aquinas said, “Tyrants are more afraid of good people than of bad people.” Good people are critical thinkers, set free to see into the deceivers and see through them to envision justice rolling down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24). We only call out we see. Critical thinking gives us eyes to see.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
This entry was posted in At The Gate. Bookmark the permalink.