5 Signs American Churches Are Going Woke
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05: A student holds up a fist during a Black Lives Matter sit-in at the National Cathedral during a peaceful protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. Protests in cities throughout the country are largely peaceful in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

Progressive Christian movements across the globe are amalgamating with the new religion of “wokeness.”

Declaring that it “could be described as trans,” the Church of Sweden recently penned a letter to adherents of the LGBTQ movement within its borders, apologizing to “trans” Swedes for “how the media has treated you,” mourning “the part of feminism that has fought for its rights and that now wants to limit yours.”

In an op-ed for The Daily Wire, Pastor John MacArthur picked apart American Christians’ alliance with the modern social justice movement: “Evangelical leaders are beginning to employ the same rhetoric and rationale of victimhood vs. oppression that is relentlessly employed by secularists who advocate for all kinds of deviant lifestyles and ideologies.”

“Key leaders throughout the evangelical movement have begun preaching doctrines and using rhetoric borrowed directly from the catalogues of CRT literature,” continued the longtime minister. “Viewpoints and vocabulary like ‘white privilege’ and ‘systemic racism’ have literally been added to the liturgy or adopted as articles of faith in some evangelical organizations.”

Despite MacArthur’s warning that wokeness is “a worse form of ‘worldliness’ than Christians in earlier generations ever contemplated,” professing Christian denominations in the United States — whether consistently liberal or traditionally conservative — are experiencing a leftward shift.

Here are five examples of American churches going woke.

PCUSA — Racial justice resources

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.) published a list of “racial justice resources” in the summer of 2020 — a move that imitates student activists on secular campuses, who frequently lean upon resource lists to propagate their views.

Following the death of George Floyd, the denomination released over one dozen statements about the dangers of systemic racism. A press release from Presbyterian Women Inc., for example, reaffirmed the group’s “commitment to dismantling institutional and structural racism, white supremacy, and white privilege following the recent and ongoing practice of police brutality and murders of people of color.” Another release from the denomination’s “Special Committee on Racism Truth and Reconciliation” called for “white people to recognize their privilege in society and engage in the work of eliminating racism and racist acts against people of color.”

Beyond reading the denomination’s past statements, congregants were invited to order yard signs emblazoned with the slogan “Presbyterians Affirm Black Lives Matter.”

Southern Baptist Convention — Resolution 9

Although the Southern Baptist Denomination — the largest association of evangelicals in the United States — has historically rejected progressive views on sociological issues, the group has shown early signs of a leftward drift.

During its 2019 meeting, the Southern Baptist Convention approved Resolution 9 — “On Critical Race Theory And Intersectionality.” Although some pastors suggested that the resolution call the two frameworks “godless ideologies that are indebted to radical feminism and postmodernism, and neo-Marxism,” the final draft framed critical race theory as “a set of analytical tools that explain how race has and continues to function in society.”

Instead of describing the ideologies as fundamentally opposed to the biblical worldview, Resolution 9 claims that “critical race theory and intersectionality have been appropriated by individuals with worldviews that are contrary to the Christian faith.” Evangelical scholars may employ “selective insights” from the frameworks to understand “multifaceted social dynamics.”

Although it proclaimed Scripture as Christianity’s “sufficient authority,” it repeated that critical race theory and intersectionality could nevertheless be “employed as analytical tools.”

Episcopal Church — Repentance for racism

The Episcopal Church developed a liturgy specifically to address racism.

In a far more aggressive measure than Resolution 9, the denomination declared that systemic racial injustices “still occur in multiple contexts including but not limited to education; employment; housing; health care; banking; voting rights; immigration; policing, courts, and prisons.”

The denomination committed to “increase the use of study, education, research, anti-racism training, liturgies, and Christian formation instruction that specifically address systemic racial injustice.” Accordingly, the body’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music created a subcommittee on “Racial Reconciliation,” which produced “a Litany of Repentance and Commissioning for the Ministry of Justice and Reconciliation.”

“The sin of racism is woven into our lives and our cultures, in small and great ways, in things done and things left undone,” read the litany. “In the assurance of our forgiveness, let us kneel before God and humbly confess our sins: our participation in racism, our privilege based on racism, and our perpetuation of racism.”

United Methodist Church — Endorsing Ibram X. Kendi

Joining other denominations, the United Methodist Church published a statement condemning racism following the death of George Floyd.

Quoting Bishop Bruce Ough of Minneapolis, the denomination’s Council of Bishops declared that “in addition to fighting COVID-19, we are besieged by a pandemic of racism, white supremacy, and white on black or brown violence.” 

The bishops also drew from the words of leading critical race theorist and Boston University professor Ibram X. Kendi in asking congregants to “read all they can on the subject of anti-racism.” 

“By not running from the books that pain us, we can allow them to transform us. I ran from antiracist books most of my life,” said Kendi, as quoted by the bishops. “But now I can’t stop running after them — scrutinizing myself and my society, and in the process changing both.”

Kendi denounces “savior theology” in favor of “liberation theology” — the notion that “the job of the Christian is to liberate oppressed peoples from their oppression.” As commentator Allie Beth Stuckey notes, this leads Kendi and other adherents of liberation theology to miss the central importance of “freedom from sin and eternal death” as a result of the work of Jesus Christ — in other words, “the gospel itself.”

Evangelical Lutheran Church — Anti-racism pledge

In a similar move as other denominations, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America created an “anti-racism pledge” for its members.

“I commit to study, prayer and action to become an anti-racist individual in an anti-racist church,” said the pledge, which the denomination encouraged members to broadcast on social media with the hashtag “#ELCA4justice.”

Beyond signing and spreading the pledge, the denomination encouraged congregants to “learn the history of systemic racism in this country” and the ways racism and “white supremacy” touch “every aspect of our life together.” In addition to “joining community organizations working for racial justice” and “advancing racially equitable public policies,” the denomination pressed the importance of listening to the “expertise of people of color.”

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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