November 12, 2022

Robert Montgomery: Biblical basis for critical race theory is justice, fair dealings between groups

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The Reverend Dr. Robert L. Montgomery is a Presbyterian minister, and in an op-ed he offered a perspective on critical race theory somewhat different from the usual loud complaints we hear.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has become a slogan to attack teachers for honestly teaching American history and also for politicians and others to control teachers and the education system, often through controlling school boards. Actually, I believe CRT is an idea which has foundations in the Bible. This basic thought is repentance, one of the basic teachings of the Bible that can be described as turning, changing, and beginning again. What is important in CRT is that repentance is not only applied to individuals, but also to groups in societies and to whole nations. It is what we begin to do when we  say “confessions” in common worship.

He offers a fairly compact history of the origins of CRT, but then he connects it to another source– the Bible.

For me, the biblical foundation for CRT is a strong emphasis in the prophets and the Bible as a whole on justice and fair dealings between individuals and groups and the continuing need to change from wrong to right dealings and make corrections. This is “repentance.” Bringing liberation to the oppressed is the ongoing responsibility of religious people and of democracies. Unfortunately, in history, oppressions have been so heavy and the sense of hopelessness of people so great that people have used Marxist ideology to cause revolutions. Adding to internal oppression is the domination of an outside power or powers. Opposing outside domination gives an added boost to revolutionaries. I saw this happen in China, where I grew up, and we saw this in Cuba and other South American countries.

The people who use CRT as a scare tactic to push their own power and extend control over the education system distort historical truth and reality that most teachers know about unjust treatment of groups. Many teachers can avoid the control by simply teaching the truths in CRT as actual history, for example, in slavery, segregation, and various forms of discrimination, such as “red-lining” in real estate deals to mark off various neighborhoods segregated along racial, social, and economic lines.

What is encouraging is that the important history of progress can be taught with the stories of people, such as Rosa Parks and the many marchers and Freedom Riders who persisted in spite of physical attacks in overcoming barriers erected against them. Also, there are countless others in courts, legislatures, churches, businesses, and other organizations that have worked for change. America in its educational system should give tools to students to critically analyze and learn how to improve our society. CRT is a valuable tool for learning how societies fail, but also can be changed.

Definitely a different point of view than we’re used to hearing. You can read the full op-ed here. 

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