(Christian Intellectual) Tom Ascol has once again helped ministry leaders who push ideas inspired by Critical Race Theory to save face through a proclamation about a private phone call.
Before, it was Matt Hall (Provost of Southern Seminary). Now, it is Paul Chitwood (President of the Internation Mission Board).
In both cases, after concerns about the men’s ministries went viral on social media, Tom Ascol came to their rescue by announcing that he had had a private phone conversation with them, and that there was nothing to be concerned about.
In this most recent case, with Chitwood, Conservative Resurgence Voices recently released an article containing the text of an email which Chitwood had sent out on behalf of the IMB. (Published in full below) The email included a number of alarming indicators that the IMB has been cultivating the Woke ideology of the world within the organization (see below for details).
Of course, this raised quite a few alarms among conservative Southern Baptists––including Tom Ascol. But then Ascol was graced with a private phone call from Chitwood, and afterward announced that there was nothing to be concerned about.
Specifically, Ascol’s tweet focused on the language of the email, saying “The IMB no longer uses the language in the email, recognizing it as problematic in our environment.”
Okay… But what about the ideas communicated through the language? The concerns being raised were not about semantics. They were about the radical ideas and assumptions laced throughout the entire email.
Here are just a few:
- The email talks about the “current events in June” (i.e. rioting after the killing of George Floyd) as if the killing was racially motivated (racial injustice is the context of the email). But only those who have bought into the Woke narrative — that American police are systemically targeting black people, and that racism is the motive behind any instance of a black man dying at the hand of police officers — would think that.
- It recommends this deplorable article on what it means to “belong.” Here’s an excerpt:
- It promotes the idea, throughout, of actively “diversifying” the IMB at all levels of leadership. This means utilizing functional racial quotas which artificially give preference to people based on their race.
- It promotes the idea that white people need to “listen” and “learn” — as if most white Christians are ignorant about racism (which is only true if it’s the Woke / Critical Theory type of “racism”).
- It talks about new training programs on “Cultural Sensitivity” and “Unconscious Bias Sensitivity.” Chitwood may be telling the truth when he says they don’t use that language anymore, but are they still the same programs? What is being taught by the IMB to their leaders and their missionaries? Are we just supposed to take Tom Ascol’s word that Paul Chitwood has given him his word that there’s nothing to be concerned about?
- There’s a new “TEAMS channel” devoted exclusively to people of certain races (racial segregation). Is this still going?
- This all came about through certain “conversations” conducted over the course of months. If it really is “problematic,” what about the damage already done? Chitwood says the language is “problematic in our environment.” Why? And if the language is problematic, aren’t all these other things much more problematic? Tom Ascol needs to stop helping these guys hide behind private phone calls.
Based merely on the email alone, there appears to be a MASSIVE influence of CRT-style thinking invading all levels of leadership at the IMB. Until and unless, Chitwood does the following to fix it, the IMB should be defunded and condemned:
- Explicitly retract all language of “unconscious bias” and the promotion of the other problematic things listed above.
- Explicitly denounce the idea that America is presently systemically racist & the idea that George Floyd’s death was an instance of systemic racism.
- Explicitly denounce the idea of racial partiality which favors “people of color” as an inherently racist and evil idea.
- Explicitly define racism exclusively as race-based partiality, and denounce every contemporary attempt to redefine it as something less.
These are bare minimum steps the IMB needs to take in order to demonstrate that it is not, and will not be, influenced by the evil ideology of Critical Race Theory. The only reason a Christian organization would not do the above is if it was attempting to tickle the ears of both sides.
Until Chitwood does the above, he is just being a politician.
And Tom Ascol is helping him to save face.
Email in Full
From: Chitwood, Paul <redacted>
Sent: Tuesday, September 8, 2020 1:01 PM
To: Chitwood, Paul
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
In Philippians 2:3, the Apostle Paul instructs us: “In humility, count others more significant than yourselves.” In Galatians 6:2, we read, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
As a father of an Asian daughter and a foster parent to a biracial son, I’ve seen up close the pain that racism and racially insensitive comments and behaviors bring. I don’t want to contribute to that pain, nor do I want our organization to do so. Knowing your love and passion for the beautiful mosaic of those from every nation, tribe, people, and language who will stand before the throne of God and before the Lamb, I know you agree.
Racism a direct consequence of the Fall and has infected every culture but the history of the US and, frankly, the SBC, is a tragic example of how God’s image bearers whose skin is black have endured unspeakable injustice, exploitation, and pain. In June, our company hosted a call for our employees who identify as Black, African American or Biracial to discuss current events, provide support for one another, and to introduce themselves to one another for the sake of creating new relationships. It was a beautiful time of fellowship and some have expressed a strong sense of belonging. What does “belonging” mean in this context? Here is a link to AN ARTICLE that explains the importance.
From this call, new friendships were formed, mentors were identified, and I am prayerful that some healing began. I want to share with everyone in our company family some insights from the participants so that all of us may better understand the feelings that were expressed and what we can do in response.
We asked the participants in August, “How are you feeling now?” and heard:
• I am encouraged, but I’m still waiting to see viable action to diversify our organization both on the field, staff, and leadership.
• I am encouraged that many in our organization, including our leadership, are willing to listen and look at what changes need to be made.
• I’m feeling focused. The lament was necessary, and the time together was healing. Now my attention has turned towards how we can move forward together.
• While there are more public conversations going on about the issue of racism, I can’t see in my personal world that there has been much change in terms of dialogue and personal conversations with others. The “silence” is still there, which makes me sad.
• Time has helped me process many things about what I was feeling and really come to terms with the sins that pervade life. Listening to others, reading articles, talking with others, and most importantly seeking what the Lord says in Scripture has helped tremendously.
• I think it would be great for our organization to continue the dialogue of how we can do better and be better leaders in this area.
• I’m excited to get on board with the ways that the IMB plans to move forward. Whatever that plan is, I plan to get behind and see how I can help to achieve the vision and goals.
We also asked, “How can your coworkers who are not Black, African American, or Biracial best support you now and in the future?” Some participants said:
• Several ways: Listen well. Educate themselves on how to understand and promote diversity. Learn to empathize with people as they walk through a crisis. There are Scriptural reminders, love others, treat people like you want to be treated, and bear each other’s burdens. Advocate for people when you recognize they are being treated unjustly.
• I have found “silence” to be a bit hurtful in the past. While I understand that race is an uncomfortable topic for many, it doesn’t feel like an “optional” topic of conversation for me, especially when tragedies occur.
• As intentional as each Affinity is in preparing their missionaries to engage their host cultures, I would like to see the same amount of intentionality in each cluster to receive cultural sensitivity training. It would be beneficial to have more intentional conversations and training on racial issues.
• Our coworkers can assist with this by seeking to learn from the People of Color around them and not just when something happens. It’s important to seek the perspectives of People of Color on your team to know what changes need to be made for a more effective and fruitful future.
• I want to be able to commend this company to People of Color knowing that the company at every level is committed to growing and welcoming and better supporting People of Color.
• Don’t assume that everyone with the company has the same perspective on the issue of racism. Let’s seek what the Lord want us to do to move forward. As a faithful organization of like-minded followers of Christ, we must continue to improve in our efforts, and I am personally committed to do so.
We are already taking some actions based on what we have learned:
• Our mobilization team is focused on improving our engagement and relationships with churches throughout the nation that are predominately attended by People of Color. We hope this will also yield more People of Color as missionaries in the future.
• We are in the beginning stages of rolling out two new training programs within GE and MOBI and plan to begin expanding to all in the near future:
◦ Cultural Sensitivity
◦ Unconscious Bias and Sensitivity
• We created a TEAMS channel for our employees who identify as Black, African American or Biracial to have personal conversations and support each other in the future. New employees are also given the opportunity to join this as they are hired.
• We are working to develop an Hispanic Employee Network
• We will continue our efforts to become more diverse in our representation of our denominational family, in our thinking and across our teams.
• In the spirit of celebrating diversity, we will begin to formally recognize two days on the calendar in 2021: Juneteenth and Hispanic Day.We will celebrate these days both internally and externally with communications via all online channels.
◦ Juneteenth, observed on June 19, is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, and celebrates the emancipation millions of people who were enslaved in the United States.
◦ October 12 is Hispanic Day. For almost 75 years, the descendants of nations emerging from the Spanish empire have embraced the word “Hispanic” to give a name to the family of nations, comprised of almost 400 million people who are united by the common bonds of culture, history, and language. Many of our home office staff, and a growing number of our overseas personnel and the fellowships we serve in the US are Hispanic.
Pray. Pray with me that hatred or injustice towards anyone because of racial differences will cease. Pray that the horrific acts of violence unfolding daily across the US will end. And pray that we will see healing and reconciliation across our land and around the world. No one is better positioned to model what that can look like than us. Our mission to serve the most diverse religious body in the US as approximately 20% of SB fellowships are African American or ethnic. Moreover, our vision and work included every nation, people, language and tribe! I want to express my sincere thanks to the Human Resources team for moving us forward and I am excited to see what God has planned for us in the future.
Editor’s Note. This article was written by Jacob Brunton and published at the Christian Intellectual. Republished in full with permission.
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