Identity And Indoctrination: “Wokeness” In American Civilization

Dec 18th, 2021 | By | Category: Featured Issues, Politics & Current Events

The mission of Issues in Perspective is to provide thoughtful, historical and biblically-centered perspectives on current ethical and cultural issues.

The Bible affirms the value and worth of human life in all of its diversity.  The Bible provides no basis for favoring or discriminating against any group of people on the basis of their backgrounds; rather, the Bible views all human beings as worthy of honor and respect, because all are created in the image of God.  In God’s eyes, there is an essential unity of all human beings.  Ephesians 3:1-10 makes clear that God’s purpose is for His church to become living examples of racial unity and harmony, welcoming and including people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds in full and equal fellowship in the body of Christ.  Why?  Because: [1] All humans are descended from Adam and Eve:  Genesis 1:26-27 and Genesis 2:20, where Eve is called “the mother of all living.”  Of the three sons of Noah, it is said “From these the people of the whole earth were dispersed” (Gen. 9:18-19). Acts 17:26 states that God “made from one man every nation of mankind.”  [2] All humans share equally in being created in the image of God:  Genesis 1:26-28; 9:6; James 3:9. [3] James 2:1, 4 and 3:17 argue that Christians are to “show no partiality.”  “Partiality” is the biblical term for discrimination. [4] Humans from every racial and ethnic background will be in heaven:  Revelation 7:9-10.

However, the 21st century American civilization consciously defies what God has declared.  Americans divide their social world into types or groups that are essentially different; indeed, that some groups are actually superior to others.  Necessarily then, the boundaries between groups are clear, hard and “anybody adopting the culture of another group is guilty” of betrayal against their own “group.”  Columnist David Brooks writes that there are at least two “large social movements in American life on different spots” of the cultural spectrum.  On the right, there is “the ethnonationalist, white nationalist position that race is real and it will always be there, and societies will thrive insofar as the supposedly superior group manages to stay in charge.”    On the left, there is the tendency that holds “that race is so essential and so deeply baked in that it will always define communities and societies, and rather than having a liberal democracy in which we primarily are seen as individual citizens with the same rights and duties, we should primarily be seen as members of our racial or religious communities.”  Russell Moore, now with Christianity Today, wisely concludes that one of the results of this tribalism or putting people into rigid silos is seen in politics:  “In our world, politics is no longer about philosophies of government but about identity . . . And in such a world, nationality and politics, even in their smallest trivialities, seem far more real than the kingdom-of-God realities that Jesus described in terms of a seed underground or yeast working through bread or wind blowing through leaves.”  Hence, we often “use” Christianity to get us to some other goal.


A most damaging illustration of this rigid cultural tribalism is the movement on the left known as “Wokeness.”  Columnist Bret Stephens writes that this movement seeks “to tear things down, divide Americans, reject and replace our national foundations.”  Stephens sees four essential characteristics of this “ideology-cum-protest” movement:

  1. An allegation that racism is a defining feature, not a flaw, of nearly every aspect of American life, from its inception to its present, in the books we read, the language we speak, the heroes we venerate, etc.
  2. Its prescription is not for genuine dialogue and debate but indoctrination and “extirpation.”  Indeed, America’s past is shot through with racism.  “But the allegation is also incomplete, distorted, ungenerous to former generations that advanced America’s promise, and untrue to the country most Americans know today.”
  3. Wokeness operates as if there had been no civil rights movement and that white Americans hadn’t been an integral part of it.  It operates as if 60 years of affirmative action never happened, and that an ever-growing percentage of Black Americans don’t belong to the middle and upper class . . . It operates as if we didn’t elect a Black president and bury a Black general as an American icon.”
  4. Wokeness prescribes solutions that are more Orwellian than anything else.  “It’s a blunt attempt to turn everyday speech into a perpetual, politicized and nearly unconscious indictment of the ‘system.’  Anyone who has spent time analyzing totalitarian regimes of the 20th century will note the similarities.”  It involves an element of government coercion.  A perfect example of such government coercion is what the Biden administration has decreed for College of the Ozarks: That the college “must start letting men into . . .  young women’s dorm rooms, showers and locker rooms.”  Using the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the administration seeks to “eradicate housing discrimination” and therefore the college must cease what it calls ‘gender identity’ discrimination.”  This 115-yearold college must reject its established practice of having separate dorms for men and women, half of whom are teenagers.  The power of government is being used to force private institutions of higher education to bend to the will of an ideology that defies God’s decree in His Creation Ordinance (Genesis 1 and 2), which clearly stipulates gender differences and God’s design for His image bearers.


There are numerous discernable results of Wokeness ideology.  Mary Eberstadt of the Catholic Information Center and a research fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute offers the following:

  1. American children are being robbed of a knowledge and appreciation of their country and its history.  For Wokeness, “the US is an irredeemable cesspool of racism and bigotry.”
  2. There is a “family deficit” which results from, among other things, generations of thinkers who have disparaged the family as the enemy of utopian schemes.  But, “unprecedented rates of abortion, fatherlessness and divorce, far from liberating, have subtracted actual and potential loved ones from the lives of many.  Increased loneliness is one of the effects of this catastrophe.
  3. The diminishing influence of personal faith.  The growth of secularism and the “nones” in numerous surveys feed the pursuit of personal autonomy and selfishness, both of which permeate American civilization.
  4. A final result is what John McWhorter calls “Third Wave Antiracism,” which preaches “that racism is baked into the structure of society, whites ‘complicity’ in living within it constitutes racism itself, while Black people, grappling with the racism surrounding them is the totality of experience and must condition exquisite sensitivity toward them, including a suspension of achievement and conduct.”  For McWhorter, the devastating consequence is victimhood: Wokeness forces Blacks to forge their identity around victimhood.  Zaid Jilani summarizes McWhorter’s argument:  “He characterizes the woke racial worldview as harmful not from normalizing anti-white prejudices or treating the social categories of race as something concrete, but because it deprives Black people of their own humanity by infantilizing them.  He [thereby] objects to lowering standards for minorities . . . .”  The only story Wokeness elites want to tell “is one where whites are the villains and minorities are the victims.”  But a worldview such as Wokeness “that seeks to defeat white supremacy by insisting that nonwhite people cannot be expected to uphold the same standards of conduct and ethics as white people isn’t one worth believing in.”


The church of Jesus Christ should therefore model the supernatural impartiality that refuses to discriminate on the basis of race or ethnic origin.  The church should model reconciliation of all races and ethnic groups.  The church should cut the radical path for all of society, for it alone sees people the way God sees them: All bear His image and all need Jesus Christ.  The church has the radical solution to society’s struggle with racism, prejudice and discrimination:  Disciples of Jesus Christ love one another with the supernatural love of their Savior. The church is the living example of racial unity and harmony, welcoming and including people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds to full and equal fellowship in the body of Christ.

See David Brooks in the New York Times (8 October 2021); Russell Moore in Christianity Today (November 2021), p. 34; Bret Stephens in the New York Times (10 November 2021); Jerry C. Davis, College of the Ozarks president, in the Wall Street Journal (17 November 2021); Mary Eberstadt in the Wall Street Journal (12 November 2021); and Zaid Jilani’s review of McWhorter’s new book Woke Racism in the New York Times Book Review (14 November 2021), p. 36.

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