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Tag: Critical Race Theory

Are Public Schools Left-Wing Indoctrination Centers?

critical race theory
Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

By Olivia Riggio, Used with Permission from FAIR — Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

In the latest multi-thousand word feature depicting America’s “education culture war,” the Washington Post’s “They Quit Liberal Public Schools. Now They Teach Kids to Be Anti-‘Woke’” (4/15/24) fawningly profiled Kali and Joshua Fontanilla, the founders of the Exodus Institute, an online Christian K–12 school that aims to “debunk the ‘woke’ lies taught in most public schools.”

The piece was written by Post reporter Hannah Natanson, who regularly contributes longform features that platform anti-trans and anti–Critical Race Theory views through a palatable “hear me out” frame, while including little in the way of opposing arguments—or fact checks (FAIR.org, 5/11/23, 2/12/22, 8/2/21).

This profile of the Fontanillas—two former California teachers who left their jobs and moved to Florida in 2020, “disillusioned” by school shutdowns and colleagues’ embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement—shows the Post once again depicting efforts to address racial and gender bias as a bigger problem than racial and gender bias themselves.

“The claim that public schools teach left-wing ‘indoctrination, not education’ had become a commonplace on the right, repeated by parents, politicians and pundits,” Natanson wrote:

But not, usually, by teachers. And that’s why the Fontanillas felt compelled to act: They came direct from the classroom. They had seen firsthand what was happening. Now, they wanted to expose the propaganda they felt had infiltrated public schools—and offer families an alternative.

The irony of the Fontanillas founding a far-right Christian school to fight “indoctrination” is lost on Natanson, as she, too, uncritically repeated these claims, as though the couple’s experience as teachers legitimized the far-right ideologies they peddle.

Natanson reported that Kali’s social media presence has attracted people to her school—despite her being “regularly suspended for ‘community violations.’” The article does not specify what those violations are, but on Instagram, Kali herself shared a screenshot of her account being flagged for disinformation, and another video talking about how a post she made about “newcomers” (i.e., migrants) received a “violation,” in calls to get her followers to follow her backup account.

The piece refers to her ideas—including referring to Black History Month as “Black idolatry month” and encouraging her followers to be doomsday preppers—as “out there.”

Kali is half Black and half white, and Joshua is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent—a fact that is mentioned alongside the couple’s gripes with the idea of slavery reparations and the concept that America is systemically racist.

Kali brags that the more right-wing her ideas, the more families she attracts to her school. “But they also spurred thousands of critical messages from online observers who contended she was indoctrinating students into a skewed, conservative worldview,” Natanson wrote.

The “hate” that these videos “inspire,” Natanson wrote, is from commenters who oppose Kali’s messages:

Online commenters regularly sling racial slurs and derogatory names: “slave sellout roach.” “dumb fukn bitch.” “wish dot com Candice Owen.” “Auntie Tomella.

Never mind the hate and conspiracy theories Kali spews in her videos. A recent video on Kali’s Instagram begs followers to follow a backup account, because a video she made about migrants was taken down by Meta as a violation of community standards. She says she believes her account has been “shadowbanned”—or muted by the platform.

Even the posts that remain unflagged by Instagram are full of bigotry and disinformation, including a cartoon of carnival performers being let go from a sideshow because they’re “not freaks anymore,” a compilation video of trans women in women’s restrooms with text that reads “get these creeps out of our bathrooms,” and a photo of a trans flag that demands, “Defund the grooming cult.”

An ad Kali posted for an emergency medical kit claimed that the FDA had “lost its war” on Ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug that the right has latched onto as a panacea for Covid-19. In reality, the lawsuit the FDA settled with the drug company involved an acknowledgement that the drug has long been used to treat humans, not just livestock—but for parasites, not viruses (Newsweek, 3/22/24). The National Institutes of Health (12/20/23) report that double-blind testing reveals ivermectin is ineffective against Covid.

Kali, who regularly mocks trans women and left-wing activists, apparently couldn’t take the heat. The backlash got so bad, Natanson writes, that

coupled with her chihuahua’s death and an injury that prevented her daily workouts, it proved too much for Kali. She went into a depressive spiral and had to take a break from social media. She barely managed to film her lessons.

In the Fontanillas’ lessons, the existence of white Quakers who fought against slavery is proof that racism is not institutionalized in the US. It’s also evidence of an “overemphasis” on reparations, even though, as Natanson mentioned toward the very end of the piece, many Quakers did take part in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and later chose to pay reparations.

In addition to Covid shutdowns, other evidence of left-wing “indoctrination” offered by the Fontanillas included a quiz that asked students to recognize their privilege, the use of a Critical Race Theory framework in an ethnic studies class, announcements for gay/straight alliance club meetings (with no announcements made for Joshua’s chess club meetings), and the work of “too many” “left-leaning” authors—like Studs Terkel, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman—in the English curriculum.

Natanson includes a positive testimonial from a mother whose son Kali tutored before her political shift rightward, who remembers how “Kali let him run around the block whenever he got antsy,” and a screenshot of a review from a current student, who says they “love love LOVE” Kali’s teaching, because it exposes “the stupid things on the internet in a logical way.” Natanson also quotes an employee of the company that handles the logistics for Southlands Christian Schools, the entity from which the Fontanillas’ school gets its accreditation, who says, “Josh and Kali are good people, they have a good message, there is definitely a market for what they’re doing.”

The only opposition to the Fontanillas’ arguments in the nearly 3,000-word piece, beyond incoherent social media comments, come in the form of official statements and school board meeting soundbites.

Natanson includes a statement from the school district the Fontanillas formerly worked, saying that the ethnic studies class Kali resigned over was intended to get students to “analyze whether or not race may be viewed as a contributor to one’s experiences.” Another statement from the district denied Joshua’s claims that his school privileged certain clubs over others, and upheld that its English curriculum followed California standards.

The only direct quotes from students opposing the Fontanillas are two short comments from students at a school board meeting who said they enjoyed the ethnic studies class. It does not appear Natanson directly interviewed either student: One statement was taken directly from the school board meeting video, and the other from a local news article. The lack of any original, critical quotes in the piece raises the question: Did Natanson talk to anyone who disagreed with the Fontanillas during her reporting on the article?

The article included a dramatic vignette of the couple bowing their heads after seeing a public art exhibit with pieces depicting a book in chains and a student wearing earrings that read “ASK ME ABOUT MY PRONOUNS”—”just one more reason, Kali told herself, to pray,” Natanson wrote.

While thus passing along uncritically the Fontanillas’ take on what’s wrong with the world today, the article made no mention of more substantial threats bigotry poses to children and society at large.

LGBTQ youth experience bullying at significantly greater rates than their straight and cisgender peers (Reisner et al., 2015; Webb et al., 2021), and bullying is a strong risk factor for youth suicide (Koyanagi, et al., 2019). LGBTQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide compared to their straight and cisgender peers (Johns et al., 2019; Johns et al., 2020). However, bullying of LGBTQ youth occurs less often at LGBTQ-affirming schools (Trevor Project, 2021).

A recent study found that about 53% of Black students experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression, and 20% said they were exposed to racial trauma often or very often in their lives (Aakoma Project, 2022).

Individuals of Black and Hispanic heritage have a higher risk of Covid infection and hospitalization from than their white counterparts (NIH, 2023). Peterson-KFF’s Health System Tracker (4/24/23) found that during the pandemic, communities of color faced higher premature death rates.

The migrants at the US border that Kali demonizes in her videos are seeking asylum from gang violence, the targeting of women and girls, and oppressive regimes propped up by US policy. Undocumented immigrants are less than half as likely as US citizens to be arrested for violent crimes (PNAS, 12/7/20). They are also being turned away at higher rates under Biden than they were under Trump (FAIR.org, 3/29/24).

The idea that left-wing “propaganda” is “infiltrating” public schools is upside-down. If there’s a particular ideology that is being systematically censored in this country, to the point where it deserves special consideration by the Washington Post, it is not the Fontanillas’.

Since 2021, 44 states have introduced bills or taken other steps to ban Critical Race Theory in schools. Eighteen states have already imposed these bans or restrictions (Education Week, 3/20/24). The right is pushing for voucher schemes that transfer tax revenues from public to private schools, including to politicized projects like Exodus Institute (Progressive, 8/11/21; EPI, 4/20/23).

In the first half of this school year alone, there were more than 4,000 instances of books being banned. According to PEN America (4/16/24), people are using sexual obscenity laws to justify banning books that discuss sexual violence and LGBTQ (particularly trans) identities, disproportionately affecting the work of women and nonbinary writers. Bans are also targeted toward literature that focuses on race and racism, Critical Race Theory and “woke ideology.”

It is dangerous and backwards for the Washington Post to play along with this couples’ delusion that they are free speech martyrs—even as their “anti-woke” agenda is being signed into censorious law across the country.

The piece ended back in the virtual classroom with the Quakers, as Natanson takes on a tone of admiration. Kali poses the question to her students, “What does it mean to live out your values?”

“Kali smiled as she told her students to write down their answers,” Natanson narrated. “She knew her own.”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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The Evangelical Plan to Return the United States to the 1950s

prayer in school

Many atheists, humanists, and progressives look at the declining attendance numbers for Evangelical churches and wrongly conclude that Evangelicalism as a movement is dying. Numerically, Evangelicalism is dying, as an increasing number of younger adults exit stage left never to be seen again. As baby boomers continue to die off, their numbers are not being replaced by younger people. Instead, more and more people in their 20s and 30s are self-identifying as atheists, agnostics, or nones (people who are indifferent towards organized religion). Based on the sheer volume of articles I see on this subject from Evangelical “experts,” it is clear that churches and pastors are alarmed over attendance losses.

If we wait long enough, Evangelicalism will die from self-inflicted wounds. Unable to leave off their penchant for waging war on people different from their tribe, there will come a day when Evangelicalism as we know it will no longer exist. However, by then the damage caused by these Evangelical culture warriors, along with their Catholic and Mormon compatriots, will be irreversible. Evangelicals have traded piety, holiness, and commitment to preaching the gospel for raw, naked political power. Evangelicals are the power and money behind Trumpism, Qanon, 1/6 Insurrection, and countless attempts to destroy sixty years of social progress. The goal is to return the United States to the 1950s.

Evangelicals harnessed incrementalism to advance their agenda This fact is aptly illustrated in their frontal assault on reproductive rights. It is widely believed by conservatives and liberals alike that the Supreme Court will soon reverse Roe v. Wade, giving states the right to totally outlaw abortion. This outcome was birthed forty years ago when Jerry Falwell and Paul Wyrich started the Moral Majority. Year by year, Evangelicals chipped away at reproductive rights, using an incrementalist approach to strip women of their right to choose.

Next on the Evangelical agenda are issues such as legally recognizing fertilized human eggs as persons, outlawing same-sex marriage, banning interracial marriage, criminalizing homosexuality, and a host of other culture war hot button issues. Who do you think is behind the outrage over LGBTQ-friendly books in schools, critical race theory, Disney, and socialism? Evangelicals, that’s who. No longer believing there is a separation between church and state, Evangelicals, if left to their own devices, fully intend to establish a Christian theocratic state. Your Evangelical neighbors might be friendly, smile when they see you, and seem to all around nice people, but make no mistake about it, behind closed doors and at church on Sundays, they shout hallelujah and amen when their preachers call on them to take back America for the Christian God.

one nation under god

I was born in 1957, an era drastically different from today. Evangelicals look at the 50s and sigh, wistfully wanting a return to the “good old days.” Knowing they currently control the levers of power, Evangelicals are working tirelessly to return us to the days when President Dwight Eisenhower and the U.S. Congress added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and put “In God We Trust” on our money. And make no mistake about it, this “God” is the Christian God of the Bible.

I grew up in a world where there was one God — the Christian God — homosexuality, abortion, and birth control were illegal, LGBTQ people were deeply closeted, Blacks knew their place, and the only thing Mexicans were good for was picking our crops. Christian morals and ethics were expected and demanded. School days began with the Pledge of Allegiance, Christian prayer, and readings from the Protestant Christian Bible. Patriarchalism and complementarianism were the norms. Divorce, sex before marriage, and pregnancy outside of marriage were frowned upon. This is the world Evangelicals want to return to.

It remains to be seen whether the Evangelical horde at the gate can be repelled. I am not optimistic. Liberals and progressives seem clueless about the real and present danger we face from Evangelicals. Our constitutional republic is weak, if not failing. Evangelicals know this and are using this weakness to advance their theocratic agenda. Their goal is Jesus on the throne in Washington D.C. and the Bible as the lawbook of the land. And when this happens, freedom is lost and people die.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Why Pastors are Apostatizing in Droves

fear the gay agenda

There are two frontal attacks on the churches today, making many pastors apostatize in droves. The first one is the LGBTQ movement. The culture is forcing the churches to embrace the homosexual agenda as being right in God’s eyes. They claim that God made them gay. That is pure blasphemy.

The second attack by the devil is Critical Race Theory. The CRT is rooted in the thoughts of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. It comes from a Marxism mentality to destroy the Judeo-Christian values. The culture is forcing white people to bow down to black people and confess that they are racist. That is demonic and ungodly to suggest that just because God made a person white, they automatically are racist. All nationalities have their bad apples, but that doesn’t make the rest rotten. I went to a black school where the blacks were racist toward Spanish and white people and hated them because they were not black. Would I now say that all black people are evil and need to repent for being racist at my school? Of course not. In Matthew 24:7, Jesus said in the end times, different races will fight against each other.

— Spaniard VIII, Spiritual Minefield: Exposing the spiritual landmines of the devil through the Word of God, Critical Race Theory, August 2, 2021

If Spaniard VIII is interested, I will gladly educate him about the real reasons for an increasing number of pastors leaving Christianity. Come to the light, my friend, come to the light. 🙂

Dear Pastor Greg Davidson, You Might Want to Ask Outsiders What They Think About the Southern Baptist Convention

southern baptist child abuse
Cartoon by Clay Jones. Please check out his awesome work at Claytoonz.

Greg Davidson, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Vacaville, California, has a sheltered, out-of-touch view of his beloved Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

Writing for SBC Voices, Davidson stated:

I love Southern Baptists. They are some of the most compassionate, forgiving, and understanding people on the face of the earth. I love the fact that there are so many that hate injustice. I like others have felt the cruel tentacles of injustice.

….

I believe it is encouraging that an overwhelming number of messengers stood against discrimination and abuse in our convention.

What does that mean going forward?

We need to unite around the fact, that whether we are supporters of Randy Adams, Al Mohler, Ed Litton, or Mike Stone, the overwhelming number of us agree on the major issues expressed by a total disdain for abuse, discrimination, and injustice as the Bible demands.

We also need to realize that we all can bring different significant contributions to this conversation that will help us to develop better solutions.

The overwhelming number of us agreed that we do not want fine, godly, and good people to be divided by godless worldly philosophies that are designed to divide us, but to be united instead around the truth of the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Word of God.

To realize that since the convention overwhelmingly voted for the truth to be discovered concerning the Executive Committee’s actions on abuse, it can logically be concluded that all sides want the truth to be known. Yet knowing that the vote for president was separated by less than 600 votes, there is clearly a difference of opinion about what the truth is. For the sake of unity let us not jump to conclusions and let the process work.

This is a moment when the best that is within can emerge, and we as Christian statesmen can rise above the bickering partisanship, and instead be used of God to heal the wounds and fractures in our convention with kindness, grace, and understanding. God bless us as we experience, by His grace, our finest hour as the people of God known as Southern Baptists.

Speaking of Southern Baptists as a whole, Davidson glowingly and effusively says:

They are some of the most compassionate, forgiving, and understanding people on the face of the earth. I love the fact that there are so many that hate injustice. I like others have felt the cruel tentacles of injustice.

While Davidson may sincerely believe this (I don’t personally know him), to those of us outside of the SBC, Southern Baptists are anything but “compassionate, forgiving, and understanding people [who] hate injustice.” Take the latest national convention, a time when Southern Baptists get together to argue, pass resolutions, and pretend that their denomination is not in numerical and moral free fall. What did we learn from the latest convention?

  • Southern Baptist love talking about sexual abuse, but don’t plan on doing anything meaningful to put an end to predators roaming the halls, sanctuaries, restrooms, and offices of their churches. Resolutions accomplish nothing. How about a national searchable database of pastors and other church leaders accused/convicted of sex crimes? How about excommunicating churches that hire or continue to employ pastors who have been accused/convicted of sex crimes? How about requiring annual comprehensive background checks on all pastors, church workers, and anyone who will come in contact with children? How about firing the executive board members who have protected criminals and covered up sex crimes? Nope, nope, nope on all of these things, yet we are expected to believe that Southern Baptists are really, really, really serious about sexual abuse THIS time.
  • Southern Baptists made it clear that they are opposed to teaching critical race theory (CRT). In doing so, it is hard to not conclude that Southern Baptists remain true to their racist roots.
  • Women will continue to be treated as second-class citizens.

Let me share with Pastor Davidson how Southern Baptists are viewed by outsiders:

  • Southern Baptists are anti-science
  • Southern Baptists are anti-abortion
  • Southern Baptists are anti-LGBTQ, anti-same-sex marriage
  • Southern Baptists are exclusivists, believing their sect’s doctrinal beliefs are the faith once delivered to the saints
  • Southern Baptists are culture warriors
  • Southern Baptists overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump, a godless, immoral man who caused great harm to our country
  • Southern Baptists hate atheists, humanists, and secularists (and Muslims, Catholics, Buddhists, and LGBTQ people)
  • Southern Baptists promote social policies that impede progress
  • Southern Baptists pine for the 1950s, the golden era of American life (gays were closeted, women stayed in the kitchen, and blacks knew their place)
  • Southern Baptists view their unbelieving neighbors strictly as targets for evangelization

Evangelicalism, of which the Southern Baptist Convention is a part, is the most hated sect in America. I have deliberately painted with a broad brush in this post. I know (so you don’t need to tell me) that what I write above doesn’t apply to all Southern Baptists everywhere. That said, the picture I painted accurately portrays how Outsiders view Southern Baptists (and Baptists in general). If Southern Baptists want to change how outsiders view them, they must change their beliefs and practices — and that ain’t going to happen. Fundamentalists control the denomination. It’s improbable that the Baptist Faith and Message will be revised, nor is there a chance in Heaven that conservatives will willingly relinquish their stranglehold on SBC boards, colleges, and institutions.

Davidson presents himself as a voice of reason, but he gives away his hand when he says:

The overwhelming number of us agreed that we do not want fine, godly, and good people to be divided by godless worldly philosophies that are designed to divide us, but to be united instead around the truth of the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Word of God.

Am I the only one who smells a Fundamentalist? Godless worldly philosophies? United around the truth of the inerrancy of the Bible? Davidson sounds like a Fundamentalist culture warrior. What next? Telling us that the earth is 6,023 years old? Believing that Bible is in any way “inerrant” ( an indefensible, irrational belief) allows Southern Baptists to continue to live in the dark ages. For all I know, Davidson may be a great guy, but his view of the SBC is out of touch with how things really are.

I am sure SBC faithful will view me as an ill-informed atheist. But marginalizing and dismissing people who are critical of the denomination only further serves to hasten their demise. Unless Southern Baptists recognize how out of touch they are with our culture and make the necessary course corrections, numerical and financial decline is sure to continue. While the SBC says it has 14 million members, over half of those card-carrying Southern Baptists are nowhere to be found on Sunday mornings. Baptismals are empty, used to store Christmas decorations. Older members are dying off and younger adults are fleeing in droves. These are facts, and thirty years from now, Fundamentalists will still be passing resolutions at the national convention, wondering what happened to their denomination. It’s too bad I won’t be around to tell Southern Baptists I told you so.

For the record: I attended several Southern Baptist churches as a child. I pastored a Southern Baptist church in Michigan, candidated at several Southern Baptist churches in West Virginia, and visited with my family a goodly number of Southern Baptist churches in Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, and California. Since deconverting in 2008, I have interacted with scores of ex-Southern Baptists (including pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and youth directors).

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser