Grove City College condemns “alleged drift in CRT Advoca…… | News and reports
Grove City College insists it’s “not going to wake up.” A new report from conservative Christian College of Pennsylvania has denounced school-sponsored courses and training they say promote “CRT concepts” and called a “mistake” for historian Jemar Tisby’s invitation to speak at a chapel service in 2020.
“Grove City College has not changed,” a committee made up largely of Grove City board members said in the report released last week. “It remains a conservative, Christ-centered institution.”
The report, product of the committee’s mission to check for any ‘mission drift’ at the college, recommends adding the word ‘conservative’ back to the school’s mission statement after it is scrapped in 2021 and lists ‘corrective measures’ to curb the promotion of critical race theory in schools.
These actions include replacing an education class accused of promoting “pop-CRT”, renaming the school’s Office of Education and Multicultural Initiatives, and exercising more control over guest lecturers and student trainings.
Tisby, New York Times bestselling author of The color of compromise and How to fight racismtold Religion News Service that the report uses the CRT as “a junk drawer for anything about race or justice that makes a certain kind of person uncomfortable.”
Because of the rhetoric around CRT, he said, “much-needed conversations about racial justice are muted in settings where they’re needed most, like Christian colleges and universities.”
Others found the report encouraging. Megan Basham, author of conservative media The daily thread, tweeted that he offered a “direct and honest assessment” and said she appreciated his description clarifying how the CRT is inconsistent with the school’s mission. “It is worth reading the whole report. Cheer!”
Matt Kennedy, rector of an Anglican church in Binghamton, New York, and his wife Anne Carlson Kennedy praised the report on their podcast.
“The best part is the critical race theory description, which is just one of the best short summaries of critical race theory issues I’ve ever read,” said Matt Kennedy.
The report says critical race theory is incompatible with the school’s vision, mission and values because it assesses people based on their race and anti-racist work, cannot be separated from political activism , “uncharitably detects aggression where none is intended” and sometimes “belittles rational argument as itself racist and oppressive.
The school, which has just 2,400 full-time students, was first accused of promoting critical race theory, an academic framework that sees racism as embedded in institutions and policies, in a petition of November written by parents and Grove City alumni. The petition alleged that this “destructive and deeply unbiblical worldview” was asserted at the college during a fall 2020 chapel presentation by Tisby.
The petition also questioned the screening in the chapel of a pre-recorded TED talk by Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and advocate for criminal justice reform; as well as resident assistant training that invoked the concepts of white privilege and white guilt. Additionally, the petition denounced several books used in an education studies class and discussion groups, including Ibram X. Kendi How to be an anti-racist and Professor Wheaton Esau McCaulley Read in black.
This initial petition sparked a flood of follow-up petitions, articles and open letters asking if the school had abandoned its traditional values. In February, the college’s board of trustees outright rejected critical race theory and created a committee to investigate allegations of mission drift. Grove City College did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The report notes that Tisby’s October 2020 chapel presentation is the chapel service that has “drawn the most critical attention”. According to the report, most Grove City leaders interviewed said inviting Tisby to speak at the chapel was a “mistake” because of what they described as his evolution.
“Most of the GCC leaders we spoke with observed that ‘the Jemar Tisby we thought we invited in 2019 is not the Jemar Tisby we heard in 2020 or are now aware of,'” says the report, citing Tisby’s short. stint as Deputy Director of Storytelling and Advocacy at the Ibrahim X. Kendi Center for Anti-Racism Research and the “progressive policies” he advocates in his latest book as evidence of his transformation.
Tisby told RNS his beliefs have not changed between 2019 and 2020 – what has changed is the socio-political climate.
The chapel in question, called “The Urgency of the Present,” was a 21-minute sermon that drew parallels between the biblical story of Esther and the modern movement for racial justice. Tisby quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and a letter from Birmingham Jail and called on those present to engage in racial justice work.
“Many of you, unfortunately, fall into the target demographic that King called the ‘white moderate,'” Tisby said in the chapel. Tisby asked listeners to “fill your minds with an awareness of racial justice so that five, 10, 20 years from now you don’t have to say ‘I never knew’.”
Tisby told RNS that the allegations that his CRT-promoted sermon was “ridiculous”. While the November petition accused Tisby of being an “avowed CRT apologist,” Tisby said he had never been trained in critical race theory.
“What most people, including the compilers of this report, call critical race theory is not critical race theory,” he said. “My work is influenced by the study of history. It does not take specific training in critical race theory to understand that racism is not simply a matter of personal prejudice but a matter of politics.
The report also found that an educational course called “Cultural Diversity and Advocacy” “effectively promoted pop-CRT” as it offered readings such as Kendi’s How to be an anti-racistRobin DiAngelo’s white fragilityand Ta-Nehisi Coates between the world and me without “critical or opposing point of view”.
He revealed that the Director of Education and Multicultural Initiatives was promoting “‘awake’ concepts” in a book club and emulating “CRT concepts” in a resident assistant training that criticized the “concept of racial neutrality “.
Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City psychology professor, said he doesn’t have much confidence in the report’s findings because it offers an erroneous definition of CRT. According to Throckmorton, the report indicates that the CRT embraces biological distinctions – however, he said, the CRT rejects biological distinctions because it views race as socially constructed. He also pointed to a footnote that reads, “Our references to the CRT include grassroots advocacy ‘adjacent to the CRT’ masked in secular or religious social justice language.”
“It could be anything, couldn’t it?” asked Throckmorton. “So when they say they found CRT, what did they really find?”
Although the report promised not to ban the books, Throckmorton said that promise did not reassure teachers who wonder if and how to teach about topics such as health disparities or social justice in the classroom. Natalie Kahler, a former student from Grove City (’94) who wrote a petition on March 8 asking the school not to prevent discussions of racism on campus, told RNS that she fears the findings of the report does lead to “indoctrinate not educate”, especially given the fact that Grove City professors are not given tenure and given one-year contracts.
“If you create an environment where people are constantly afraid for their jobs and afraid that something they might say might be interpreted as CRT because everyone interprets CRT very differently, you create a culture where people don’t aren’t going to be able to have difficult conversations,” Khaler said.
In March, Jon Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, wrote an article showing Grove City Board Chairman Edward D. Breen advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion as CEO of chemical company DuPont. “(I)s the Edward Breen who led the Grove City College board of trustees in condemning critical race theory, the same guy who works for racial justice at DuPont?” Fea asks.
Another board member, David Forney, is pastor of a church in Charlottesville and offered a list of racial justice resources to his congregation on the church’s website, including Bryan Stevenson’s TED Talks and the booksHow to be an anti-racist and between the world and mewhich the report describes as promoting “pop-CRT”.
“I am puzzled that these resources are considered good and helpful for a board member to recommend to their congregation, but are considered off-duty for our faculty to assign as study resources for a college course,” Throckmorton said in an email to RNS. Neither Breen nor Forney could be reached for comment.
Tisby said the CRT debate in Grove City points to a broader “trimming” in Christian higher education between schools that strive to be more racially and ethnically inclusive and those that redouble their calls for ” a very small but loyal constituency that does not want to engage in vital conversations about racism.
In his podcast, Kennedy suggested that Grove City illustrates how other Christian organizations should approach CRT. “Congregations, denominations, have to start seeing awakening as heresy,” Kennedy said. He added that “the language used by particularly Christian ‘wokesters’ is very, very close to the gospel. And so the unwary can be attracted and you have compassion for them. But the leaders of this thing, these people must be put out of the church.
Tisby said Grove City’s response to CRT should be taken as a warning.
“(Any) anyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, who stands up for racial justice could be a victim of these kinds of attacks,” Tisby said. “And, I would say, these actions are all the more lamentable because they come out of Christian institutions. We follow a savior who said, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ But we have people who claim to be followers of Christ, who seem to run away from the truth about racism. »