This Is the article on Critical Race Theory I've been waiting for.

The true origins of the war on Critical Race Theory are in white evangelical churches and organizations

I’ve come to accept the fact that much of my work is saying the same things over and over and hoping that, at some point, people will listen.

So when Critical Race Theory seemed to come roaring out of the mouths of politicians and pundits in the past year, I did my best to say, “This is not a new thing.” In fact, much of the fear-mongering about Critical Race Theory has been taking place in conservative, white evangelical circles for years now.

I know because with my work through The Witness and speaking and writing publicly about racism and the church, I have been slapped with the CRT label as a derisive dismissal of my work.

I have tried to tell people that the attacks on Critical Race Theory and other initiatives such as the 1619 Project have their roots not in the calls of Congress but in the halls of churches and Christian ministries.

But few among the national news outlets have listened to those of us who have pointed out the links between the war on Critical Race Theory and its roots in conservative white churches.

That’s why I was so enthused to come across Andre E. Johnson’s article, “Where Did White Evangelicalism’s Hatred of Critical Race Theory Really Begin?” in Religion Dispatches.

In this article, Johnson, an associate professor of rhetoric and media studies at the University of Memphis, lays out what many people get wrong about the origins of the hatred toward CRT.

Some would trace the public outcry from white conservatives to conservative activist Christopher Rufo and his September 2, 2020 appearance on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight.

In that segment Rufo addressed a comment directly to to then-president Donald Trump.

And I’d like to make it explicit: The President and the White House—it’s within their authority to immediately issue an executive order to abolish critical-race-theory training from the federal government. And I call on the President to immediately issue this executive order—to stamp out this destructive, divisive, pseudoscientific ideology.

After inviting Rufo to the White House, Trump issued just such an executive order weeks later on September 22, 2020. That’s when many in the national news media picked up on the acrimony toward Critical Race Theory and it became a topic of public conversation.

But in his article, Johnson goes further back.

However, the truth is that before Rufo “discovered” CRT from the footnotes of documents leaked to him by frustrated employees in anti-bias and diversity training classes, white evangelicals had already been laying the groundwork for the attack on CRT.

He cites the formation of the fundamentalist Cooperative Baptist Network, the issuing of the “infamous” Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, and the pronouncements of evangelical megachurch pastor, John MacArthur, as precursors to the present furor.

For years now, white conservative evangelicals have been engaging in a concerted effort to tether the term “Critical Race Theory” with the term “unbiblical”. Johnson explains,

In short, the belief that CRT and Intersectionality are problematic comes not only from a lack of understanding of the terms, but how conservatives and white evangelicals have positioned them as anti-faith—and more particularly, anti-Christian. 

This is the article on Critical Race Theory, specifically the origins of the manufactured controversy in Christian circles, that I’ve been waiting for. But it’s only a beginning.

We need more articles on Christian Nationalism, the true threat to the witness of the church in the U.S. We need more articles describing the intimate linkages between conservative Christianity and Republican politics. We need more articles that talk about how to fight the disinformation being mainlined into the homes of millions of people through right-wing media outlets. But Johnson’s article is a start.

Next time someone asks with a note of bewilderment in their voice, “Where did all this fear-mongering about Critical Race Theory come from?” don’t look to Congress but to white conservative Christians.

Read the rest of Dr. Johnson’s article HERE.