One either endorses the idea of a racial hierarchy as racist or racial equality as an anti-racist.

~Ibram Kendi

Anti-Racists believe that systemic racism is so prevalent that it is impossible to simply be “not racist.” We are either racist or striving to be anti-racist. There is no middle ground, and we must pick a side. If you say you’re “not racist,” you’re in denial of your own racist views. After all, Jim Crow segregationists and slave owners also said they were not racist when they obviously were racist. The ubiquity of racism is so prevalent that you must first confess that you are a racist before fighting against systemic racism. If you say you’re not racist, you’re part of the problem and are propagating racist views.

What’s fascinating about this creed is its lack of openness, its binary approach, and fundamentalism. A confession must proceed before acting or “evangelizing” other people. Ibram Kendi has noted how he cannot disconnect his own parents’ religious strivings to be Christian from his secular strivings to be an anti-racist. Aspects of Christianity and anti-racism are often intertwined with the fiery black evangelism of Tom Skinner’s “radical Jesus” and James Cone’s black liberation theology. Don’t believe this is a religion? Let’s try a game and take Kendi’s statement by replacing the word racism with sin and see what happens:

“Sin is so prevalent that it is not possible to be simply “not a sinner.” Rather, we must pick a side. We are either a sinner or striving to be less of a sinner. There is no middle ground. If you say you’re not a sinner, you’re in denial of your own sin. After all, Jim Crow segregationists and slave owners also said they were not sinners when they obviously were sinners. The ubiquity of sin is so prevalent that you must first confess that you are a sinner before fighting against sin. If you say you’re not a sinner, you’re part of the problem and propagating sin.”

Now, you might be saying, “Now can’t you do that with anything? How does that prove your point that it’s a religion?” Good question. However, you can’t replace the words racism or sin with an expression that requires some type of objective method, especially one with a provable hypothesis such as “science, biology, or astronomy.” It doesn’t work. Religion is different because it’s a creedal statement that’s based on a faith presupposition. The word racism is used by the anti-racists as assumed reality., i.e., “We know that God works all things for good.” However, unlike most religions such as Christianity or Buddhism, the Anti-Racists are against putting their proven or placed methods under any objective scrutiny. Therefore, I believe Anti-Racism is better described as a cult. Cults are different from most religions in that they cannot correct themselves, offer nuance to their creeds, nor stand on their own without a full agreement to their statements. Anyone who disagrees with the Anti-Racist either does not understand or is a secret racist. Glenn Singleton, president of the racial-sensitivity training outfit Courageous Conversation and another leading Anti-Racist activist, told the New York Times Magazine that “scientific, linear thinking” and “cause and effect” are among the “hallmark[s] of whiteness.” One should never assume that their statements are ever untrue. If you do, like a cult, you are part of the problem and must be weeded out for discipline. [1]

I appreciate these statements because they expose what Anti-Racism is: a creedal faith or cult based on unquestioned assumptions and facts that can never be questioned. I believe this helps us know what we’re dealing with when dialoguing with them or when they are unwilling to speak to us. I understand it on a personal level. I was a member of a cult once called Shepherd’s Chapel who believed that the King James Version was the only written word of God. During that time, I was fine talking to someone who had my assumptions — however, if you pushed back, I would not seek a mutual common ground, but I’d see you as “weak in your faith,” “overcome with liberalism,” or “not loving Jesus as much as me.” I would then go home and pray for your salvation. The Anti-Racists have the same mindset…with the exception that they are not going to pray for you. If you agree, then you’re a friend; but if you disagree, then you are part of the problem.

Why?

Because Anti-Racism is a creedal assumption that cannot be challenged.

What is that?

A cult.

While both anti-racism and Christianity are creedal in their foundational assumptions, unlike Christianity, there is no messiah figure in its heuristic; so, forgiveness is not encouraged among anti-racists. Once you confess that you’re a racist, you have a job: make sure you stop propagating racism and become an anti-racist. In fact, many anti-racists decry the demand to forgive others because it’s often seen as a white expectation that slave owners demanded of their slaves and seen as a compromise to white aggression. Therefore, today’s anti-racists are not offering an open hand to speak and dialogue because this would be compromising, giving in or selling out. Instead, they offer a closed fist of “us vs. them” and one must pick a side. As Kendi states, “You are either a racist or an anti-racist who wants to confront it.” Like a cult. There is no middle ground.

[1] Three examples here: In 2017, for example, “Duke Divinity School professor Paul Griffiths resigned after facing university punishment for criticizing university-sponsored racial-sensitivity training. In 2018, Portland State University professor Bruce Gilley spent months being secretly investigated by his university’s diversity office for publishing a peer-reviewed scholarly article positing that colonialism had positive consequences as well as negative ones. This July, hundreds of members of the Princeton community signed a faculty statement demanding that the university create an “internal committee” of the “actively anti-racist” to supervise teaching, research, hiring, and university practices. One classics professor, Joshua Katz, wrote of his refusal to sign the letter, only to be immediately denounced by his department and the university president.” Can be found at https://www.aei.org/articles/anti-racist-education-is-neither/

I’m a therapist and own a practice. I also love to read and have an MDiv and a Th.M in Hebrew. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy.