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Wokeness Is Coming for Classical Christian Education


BY: DAVID GOODWIN | JANUARY 20, 2023

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2023/01/20/wokeness-is-coming-for-classical-christian-education/

classical christian school
Classical Christian education is not ‘racist’ or ‘misogynist.’ Its texts address the universal truths about the human condition.

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It’s been a good year for classical Christian education. New school starts are up threefold, a book on classical education became No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list, and on Jan. 26, Fox Nation will release season two of a popular series on classical Christian education, “The Miseducation of America.” Of course, with growth comes attention. What is unusual this time is that someone with ties to our movement — one of our own — draws focus to a growing divide.

On Jan. 12, in the online journal Current, Jessica Hooten Wilson asked, “Is White Supremacy a Bug or a Feature of Classical Christian Education? It should come as no surprise that, within her mainstream academic ecosphere as a scholar at Pepperdine University, she gets pressure. “I experience regular pushback from those who perceive [classical Christian education] as white, Western-only, and male-dominated.” She proceeds to cast aspersions on a few people and organizations — including, indirectly, mine. Her accusations become a pretext for her thesis: “If the classical Christian school movement is to survive — let alone flourish — we must oppose all forms of racism and misogyny and stand with the beauty, goodness, and truth that we hold up for our students.” I’ll take her up on that charge.

Hooten Wilson is a staccato note at the end of a new tune within our circles. Her article praises those groups she believes are taking the right steps. So far, I’ve heard no one publicly state the thesis so clearly as she does: “We should peruse the authors of the works and, if applicable, the editors or introductory writers to ensure an assortment of voices … as well as an equality of both sexes. If we look at the table of contents of a textbook or a reading list for a semester and find not a single woman or person of color in that list, then that curriculum is misrepresenting the classical Christian tradition.”

Choosing the Classical Canon

For the better part of three millennia, philosophical, theological, and literary authors labored to create the classical canon, representing countless cultural influences. Over much of this same time period, learned scholars have made lists of those that deserve “canon” status. It is unclear if there are minorities or women in Cassiodorus’ list of authors (400 A.D.), or Leonardo Bruni or Battista Guarino’s lists (humanists from the 1400s) — they don’t use those categories. Mortimer Adler and his team of about 40 renowned scholars chose the most widely recognized list of books in our time based upon their contribution to “the great conversation.” Adler’s merit-based criteria required a work to have changed the course of history and to have developed the collective Western mind. What Adler’s team did not do is look to race or sex as criteria.

The Western classical tradition has long included people of every race and sex in a particular way: The tradition deals with a body of texts that address the universal truths about the human condition, rising above our culture’s current quest to silo everyone into an intersection of identity.

Whatever your identity may be, the long journey toward Aeneus’ destiny amplifies the tension between duty and desire. The hilarity of twins unknown to each other, living in the same city, begets “A Comedy of Errors,” no matter your race or sex. Would Hooten Wilson tell the young women and minorities in our schools that they cannot fully converse with these texts because their voices are not represented in them? Shall our schools sacrifice universal human dignity on the altar of token inclusion? Hooten Wilson limits her criteria to women and minorities. Some, like Kimberle Crenshaw, will not be satisfied with this attempt to diversify our reading lists — there will always be one more disaffected group.

Duped into Old-Fashioned Racism and Sexism

By Hooten Wilson’s standard, we must scrape and scrape until we find a “fair” representation of “diverse” contributors. “I am especially excited about the number of women that we added to the Middle Ages list. … Classical schools should look through their reading lists to make sure women and persons of color are not excluded from their curriculum.” Classical Christian education should not be duped by the spirit of our age into old-fashioned racism or sexism. This spirit was cultivated not by our tradition, as Hooten Wilson claims, but rather by the Frankfurt School.

During the 1930s, a group of cultural Marxist scholars set up shop at Columbia University. The Frankfurt School set out on a mission to end the influence of Christianity in our culture. Their thickly veiled product called critical theory deliberately divides us by whispering one small lie, presented in two axioms: For a person to relate to anything, or gain from anything — in this case an intellectual tradition — it must have elements that “look like them” and match their “identity.” And, a second axiom follows: Thus, if something does not contain “diverse and inclusive” elements, it is racist or misogynist. These fruits of critical theory travel down a circuitous path from the Frankfurt School, to Hooten Wilson’s proposal, to a few classical educators who take incremental steps toward critical theory — all of this under the trendy label of “inclusiveness.”

True Liberation Through Classical Christian Education

Classical education was created to, and has, liberated the minds of countless people groups in history, and it is capable of doing the same in America today — and beyond. It has been at the forefront of the march for freedom and education; for individual rights apart from race or class or sex. If we let the very toxin that infects progressive education get into our classrooms, we’re doomed. This toxin was created and propagated by those who hate our tradition. Should we voluntarily drink it?

My daughter recently graduated from New Saint Andrews College. This is one of the institutions that those in Hooten Wilson’s camp label “misogynist.” The college seeks to uphold and respect traditional Christian femininity, which displeases feminists who seem to hate femininity. Misogyny? When my daughter brought her friends to our home over Thanksgiving, I remember listening to the conversation and thinking, “Where do these women come from? They’re strong, bright, extremely well-read, fluent in ancient languages, and honoring of Christian truth — including their God-given womanhood.” None were weak women. All seemed faithful, happy, and confident. I don’t think any of them would want Hooten Wilson’s prescription for their reading list.

Is Racism a Bug or a Feature in Classical Christian Education?

The Frankfurt School’s purpose was to deconstruct. To do so, they inserted a “bug” in our educational system: critical theory, and all of its descendent forms. Some in our movement now offer a batch of code that has this bug embedded deeply within it — in the form of reading lists. By Hooten Wilson’s reckoning, these groups are heading in the right direction. The rest of us are not. Will our institutions continue to follow her lead by adopting coded terms like “Kingdom Diversity”? Or will we recognize the code as a virus and say, “No thank you. The classical Christian tradition is above all that nonsense — and the nonsense of white nationalists, by the way. May a plague be on all your racist houses.”

If classical Christian education is to survive, it has to reject the foolishness of our age and embrace Christ’s way alone. Christ’s church favors neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free.

The humanities are great because they unite. They are universal. Women and non-Europeans are now, in our present time, contributing to classical Christian education in spades. I work so that all children can rise up and join the great conversation without barriers.

“Identity,” however, won’t fit here. Check it at the door. We are Christ’s. We are classical. Those who want to be loved by the spirit of our age will become intoxicated by it, and slowly die of its poison.


David Goodwin is the editor of The Classical Difference magazine, the president of the Association of Classical Christian Schools, and the co-author of The New York Times no. 1 best seller “Battle for the American Mind.” You can find him at Substack.

Barr: Public Schools Are Now So Hostile to Christians, They’re Unconstitutional


A MUST READ AND SHARE -Jerry Broussard

REPORTED BY: JOY PULLMANN | JUNE 27, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/06/27/barr-public-schools-are-now-so-hostile-to-christians-theyre-unconstitutional/

William Barr

Religious devotion, the keystone of ordered liberty in the West, has been under systematic assault by anti-religious forces Barr called an ‘atheocracy.’

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The West is facing its deepest civilizational crisis since Jesus Christ resurrected, and addressing the crisis requires removing militant secularists’ monopoly on education, former U.S. attorney general William Barr told a packed Christian conference in Chicago, Ill. on Saturday.

“We are going through a fateful crisis in western civilization. This is the deepest crisis we’ve faced in my mind since Christ,” Barr said. “That’s because our whole civilization is based on the Judeo-Christian tradition and that tradition is under sustained attack by increasingly militant secular forces.”

In a reprise of a 2019 speech at Notre Dame University that met massive corporate media backlash, Barr told the audience U.S. public schools have become hostile to traditional religion while wresting control of American children’s upbringing from their parents. This is a threat to the entire Western order, Barr said, because the unique American system of self-government cannot exist without a citizenry that is committed to traditional religion.

That’s because there are only two ways to restrain people from following disordered passions, Barr said: internal restraints, which are largely provided by one’s beliefs; and external restraints, which are typically provided by government. So, in order to have a limited government, Barr noted in an explicit echo of the American Founders, citizens must practice self-restraint. Such self-restraint is primarily developed through religious devotion, he said. But religious observance, the keystone of ordered liberty in the West, has been under systematic assault by anti-religious forces Barr called an “atheocracy,” his amalgam of the words “atheist theocracy.” These anti-religious forces now control the minds of American kids due to their monopoly on U.S. education institutions.

“The threat today is not that religious people are about to establish a theocracy in the United States, it is that militant secularists are trying to establish an atheocracy,” Barr said. Barr also spoke to The Federalist about the asymmetric justice being carried out under Joe Biden by the agency he has led twice, the U.S. Department of Justice.

In a 2021 interview with the legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, Barr said anti-religion leftists have effectively turned public schools into “secular-progressive madrassas.” In his Chicago speech on Saturday, the nation’s former top lawyer told the audience this state of affairs is likely a violation of the Constitution’s ban on government establishment of one religion over others, as well as a violation of the Free Exercise Clause that forbids the government from interfering with Americans’ religious obligations.

“What we’re living through is not a situation where religion is intruding into the government’s rightful arena, it’s exactly the opposite: It’s that government and politics is usurping the role of religion,” Barr said.

Barr told the sold-out Chicago audience at the 2022 conference of the Christian radio show “Issues, Etc.” that American politics now aligns with religious beliefs. The dichotomy in American life is no longer about prudential issues but religious ones: whether one acknowledges an objective, external, unchanging reality ordered by a transcendent deity or whether one insists the material world is all there is, which makes one’s god the self.

This anti-God materialism now maps onto and fuels political leftism, Barr said:

When a purely materialist worldview takes hold in society, it’s drawn to a messianic utopianism. Its adherents become enthralled with the idea that the meaning of life, what gives them purpose and meaning, is to be found in the quest for a perfect earthly society. The manipulation of the material world to achieve some form of nirvana here on earth. And the means used is achieving political power.

The main obstacle to this earthly paradise is the existing structure, conventions and superstitions like religion. Any obstacle to our earthly paradise has to be torn down.

These ideas are represented by the progressive movement in the United States. It basically is an ersatz religion that gives them a sort of truncated version of the place filled by religion in people’s lives. It also explains the bitterness in our politics today. Because once you adopt this view, then your political opponents aren’t just disagreeing with you, they’re evil. They are standing in the way of the salvation of mankind.

…Another part of this revolutionary era and the consequences we have been witnessing over the last couple of hundred years is a worldview that boils questions of morality solely down to an individual’s internal feelings. And their interior sense of pleasure and satisfaction. That’s how we gauge acts, whether people feel internally satisfied. And anything that advances that feeling is good, and anything that constrains or restricts that feeling is bad. This is a fundamental change in the worldview of the West.

Because the U.S. Supreme Court and other American political institutions have turned public schools from essentially Christian schools into essentially anti-Christian schools, Barr said, the U.S. school system has been erasing the faith required to sustain limited government. Multiple studies provide evidence this is true.

Banning Christianity from education created a moral vacuum that has ultimately been filled badly with political leftism. This has not only increasingly turned younger American generations against their own faith, families, and country, it has turned public schools into indoctrination camps.

“Personal and civic moral systems don’t just sort of hover in the air,” Barr explained. “They have to rest on an explanatory foundation, a metaphysical foundation. When people tell you to do something, you ask ‘Why?’ Why is it necessary to be good and what is it that consists of being good? So, the extent to which an education seeks to contribute to a student’s moral formation, it necessarily invades the space of religion when explaining what the moral values are and how they should be inherited.”

Thanks to the current Supreme Court’s adherence to the original Constitution as written, Barr said he thinks this is an opportune moment for both court and legislative work to address this existential national crisis.

“Public education was established as a melting pot that would establish a common American identity. How are the public schools doing on that front?” Barr asked, at which the audience burst into laughter. He continued: “The curriculum is now attacking the fundamental legitimacy of our form of government and our founding documents. That’s no way to bring us together as a nation.”

The most direct way to resolve this constitutional and existential crisis in American education is to end the government monopoly over the provision of education, Barr said, with full school choice. (The form of school choice that offers the fewest opportunities for hostile bureaucrats to interfere with parent choices, by the way, is education savings accounts.)

“The variety of American beliefs now makes a monopoly on education untenable,” Barr said. “You can’t finesse it anymore. You can’t pretend what’s being taught in schools is compatible with traditional religion, nor can you pretend schools are neutral anymore.”

Because anti-religious public schools hold a monopoly on public education funds, Barr noted, parents are forced to fight mostly ineffectively over what public schools teach, such as transgender ideology to kindergarteners and anti-white racism. Allowing parents to take their children’s public education dollars to institutions that match their beliefs will end such culture wars, he said, as well as help families more effectively pass their republic-sustaining faith on to their children.

This alone can’t solve the entire existential crisis of the West, Barr conceded: “It’s not a panacea, but I cannot see a way out for us and the way for Christian citizens to live in peace in this republic until we address the educational system.”


Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Sign up here to get early access to her next ebook, “101 Strategies For Living Well Amid Inflation.” Her bestselling ebook is “Classic Books for Young Children.” Mrs. Pullmann identifies as native American and gender natural. She is also the author of “The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids,” from Encounter Books. In 2013-14 she won a Robert Novak journalism fellowship for in-depth reporting on Common Core national education mandates. Joy is a grateful graduate of the Hillsdale College honors and journalism programs.

Parents too afraid to oppose critical race theory in schools, says activist


Reported By Jackson Elliott, Christian Post Reporter 

Critical race theory has infiltrated Christian private schools and parents aren’t speaking up because they’re afraid, said one education activist.

Elana Yaron Fishbein started an organization called “No Left Turn in Education” to help parents take the lead in the education of their children and to show people who oppose critical race theory that they have allies. Among its slogans is “education, not indoctrination.” In only a few months since its beginning in August 2020, her Facebook group grew dramatically. Today, her group has chapters in 18 states.

“Many parents say ‘how can you be against it (CRT)?’ until you open it and see what’s in it. It’s the exact opposite [of what it says,]” said Fishbein to The Christian Post.

Fishbein’s own courage in fighting critical race theory comes from her Jewish faith background, she said.

Originally from Israel, she noted, “It’s Jews, more than any other group in the history of the world, who have suffered from racism and the consequences of racism. Am I going to sit down and watch what they’re doing, turning this country into a racist country? Blaming all the whites for being racist and privileged? As an Israeli, I know if I don’t stand up and fight, we’ll be gone.”

She sounded the alarm that both public and private schools have begun teaching CRT as well as comprehensive sexual education, which instead of encouraging abstinence, focuses on normalizing sex outside of marriage and encourages confused kids to question whether they are male or female.

Critical race theory has varied definitions. Oxford Reference notes: “CRT regards the privileged position occupied by mostly White, middle-class academics as a major obstacle to a comprehensive exposure of the racism that is seen to permeate the law, its rules, concepts, and institutions.”

Conservative website Pulpit & Pen argues that CRT is dangerous in that it is “fundamentally opposed to the American Civil Rights Movement,” as it does not advocate for treating people equally but rather that “the law may actually need to [be] biased in favor of minority identity groups” to redistribute power. Race is the defining feature of human identity, Pulpit & Pen states, and every person is part of either an oppressor race that holds power, or an oppressed race that oppressors abuse.

Fishbein argued, “They attach to critical race theory a lot of beautiful names, but they mean the opposite. Of course, we are ‘anti-racist.’ Of course, we are ‘for diversity.’ But they mean the opposite.”

Churches and Christian schools are teaching children how to classify each other by race and see color instead of character, she said. It’s not only being taught in public schools but “it’s very, very pervasive in Catholic schools, Episcopalian schools, charter schools, we’re getting a lot of references from most private schools,” she maintained.

“The majority of private schools are in bed with all this too. It is very common even in religious schools and in a lot of churches. A lot of synagogues have gone totally woke.”

In Missouri, a student filed a lawsuit alleging that her Catholic school tried to force her to lie that she was racist. A Nevada charter school forced students to identify themselves as members of a race. A public school in California told children to rank themselves by “privilege” in the classroom. Some of the elements that defined privilege was whether someone was white and a Christian.

These incidents aren’t isolated. According to The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy Director Lindsey Burke, many of America’s 14,000 public school boards are embracing CRT. One key driver of this educational change is The New York Times’s 1619 Project, which promotes the ideology.

“More than 4,500 classrooms around the country have begun to incorporate the 1619 Project curricular materials into their content,” she said.

Burke and her colleagues specifically asked school board members and families across the country about the 1619 Project and 50% of all parents and 70% of school board members said that they do not want schools to use the instructional materials rooted in the idea that slavery is the center of the national narrative. Likewise, 70% of parents and 74% of school board members believe that slavery is a tragedy that harmed the nation but freedom and prosperity represent who Americans are.

Their data showed that only 25% of parents and 17% of school board members believe that students should be taught that the founding ideals of liberty and equality were false when they were written and that U.S. history must thus be reframed.

Fishbein believes that critical race theory often goes unopposed because its opponents feel too afraid to fight it. She often meets people who don’t tell even their close friends that they oppose the ideology.

One woman she met had a close friend who would host sleepovers with her children. For years, she felt too afraid to say she opposed CRT developments at the school their children attended. When she finally spoke up to her friend, her friend agreed with her and said that she also had felt too afraid to share her real beliefs.

When Fishbein first objected to CRT at her own school, parents weren’t willing to stand with her. Several people loudly condemned her, she said.

“The lynching was public, but the support was private,” she said. “I was really concerned about the people being afraid to talk. People say they are 100% with me and they agree, but they’re afraid to talk. It blew my mind. How in this country with First Amendment rights people are afraid to talk?”

Fishbein encouraged parents to run for school boards, form networks, and use resources on No Left Turn in Education’s website to fight back against the teaching of CRT.

“The school board dictates the curriculum,” she said. “Do you care about your kids, do you care about your family, do you care about your nation? You have to start getting involved.”

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