In the previous post I concluded that
When people argue that the diversity-equity-inclusion philosophy is Christian, they are asking us to accept adherence to it as an essential component or a clear implication of the Christian ethics described in the New Testament. If they are correct, Christians are obligated to support DEI.
In this post and the next I will argue that diversity-equity-inclusion philosophy does not meet this standard.
A Preliminary Word to the Reader
Since I wrote the first draft of this essay, I’ve had conversations with two different parties that made it clear to me that many people who push back against my criticism of diversity-equity-inclusion philosophy have something completely different in mind than I have. I am thinking of a theory developed in elite academic settings. DEI philosophy is a recent repackaging of “critical theory” originally developed by European neo-Marxist political philosophers, mostly in Germany, in the middle decades of the twentieth century [See “Critical Theory” and “The Frankfort School” in the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy or look them up in Wikipedia.]. I’ve been reading in and about “Critical Theory” literature since my 1980s graduate school days. So when I hear it framed in terms of race rather than economic class I immediately recognize the basic logic as the same as the earlier form. It is obvious to me.
But it is not obvious to most people. Understandably, most people don’t read the elite academic literature of Critical Theory. When my conversation partners hear the words diversity, equity, and inclusion, they think classical liberal virtues. In the word “diversity” they hear the idea of a community where people of different backgrounds, cultures, and races are invited to bring their perspectives into the discussion about how to achieve the ideal community. When I use the word “equity” my friends think “equality,” the classical liberal ideal of treating everyone with equal respect whatever their color, economic status, or culture of origin. “Inclusion” to them means simply a welcoming attitude that excludes no one except those who exclude themselves.
You can see why some people are mystified that I would train my critical sights on diversity-equity-inclusion philosophy. To them I sound like I am anti-liberal, that I don’t believe in equality, and that I am afraid to associate with people unlike me. In actual fact, I agree with the values they mistakenly attribute to DEI philosophy, and I criticize DEI philosophy because it is not liberal!
Am I, then, fussing over words? In a sense the answer is yes. But only in a sense. In my view, if we do not mean by “diversity, equity, and inclusion” the illiberal values of Critical Theory, we ought to use different words and make clear our commitment to liberal values in clear opposition to illiberal academic Critical Theory. The reason is this: if we incorporate the words “diversity, equity, and inclusion” into our community vocabularies and in policy documents—in churches, businesses, and colleges—it will not be long before someone will read the illiberal academic and political meaning into those words and demand in legalistic fashion that we conform our practices to our stated policies. At that point it will be almost impossible to resist.
I return now to the original essay.
DEI—A Worldly Political Philosophy
Diversity-equity-inclusion philosophy is an ethical/political theory of justice designed to apply to everyone in a society in all spaces governed by law and regulation. It views justice as equal distribution of socioeconomic goods among identity groups within society. Unequal distribution of economic goods among identity groups—not economic classes as in Marxism—is proof of injustice. It rejects liberal philosophy’s theory of justice as equal application of law. It repudiates liberal society’s prioritization of individual freedom and its distribution of rewards and punishments according to merit and individual accomplishment. Instead, DEI philosophy insists that a just social system must produce equal outcomes of economic welfare for all identity groups. Mechanisms of distribution of goods must be designed to produce these just outcomes. Government at all levels must enact and enforce laws and regulations that counterbalance all forces—especially white supremacy—that tend toward injustice as defined by DEI philosophy. Because of government regulations and cultural pressure, such ostensibly private institutions as businesses, universities, service organizations, sports leagues, and even churches come under intense scrutiny and are expected to conform voluntarily even if such conformity makes no sense in terms of the educational, economic, or service goals of the institution.
Christianity is Not a Worldly Political Philosophy
Are Christians obligated to support this theory of justice and the policies, laws and regulations, and government actions that it demands? The answer is no for three reasons, only one of which I can address in this essay. (1) Christianity is not a worldly political philosophy. Worldly political philosophies propose ways in which all people living within a sovereign territory can live together within one order where “justice” reigns. In contrast, the Christianity of the New Testament proclaims only one message to a world composed of idolaters, secularists, atheists, criminals, and adherents of various religions: repent and believe the gospel. It has nothing further to say until a decision is make about this message. Jesus is not interested in forcing or enticing pagans and atheists to behave better, to share the wealth, to value diversity, to seek equity, or be more inclusive. The Christianity found in the New Testament does not use coercion to force conformity to its unique ethical vision, which involves being transformed by the Spirit of God into the image of Jesus. No one can be forced to become a Christian or live as one. The universal order envisioned by Christianity—the kingdom of God—is a realm of faith, freedom, and love. God alone can bring it about. The church’s task is to witness to that future by living in faith, freedom, and love in the present age. When well meaning human beings attempt to bring utopias into existence by their own power—even if they call them the “kingdom of God”—they end up looking more like the kingdom of the devil than the kingdom of God. Because DEI is a worldly political philosophy designed to govern all sorts of people under one secular system intended to produce worldly well being—whatever its strengths and weaknesses as a political philosophy as measured by reason—it can never become an essential component or a clear implication of the Christian ethics described in the New Testament. Hence Christians are not obligated as an implication of their faith to support the DEI political philosophy.
I can see that you have studied d e i and you know it well. I am not one who has studied that. But when you got to the end of your manuscript you mentioned “kingdom of God.” You are using Old covenant words and trying to put them into the new testament. confusing. I hear this on tv so often by television teachers. Not good. I have studied some. I study an average of 4 to 6 hours a day for the last 30+years. God bless.
You dedication to study is very admirable, but I don’t understand your comment about the kingdom of God being an Old Testament concept. The near coming of the Kingdom of God was Jesus’s central message. Besides, I was not trying to explain the biblical view of the kingdom, but referring to the social gospel’s distortion of it. Peace.
The NEAR COMING of the “Royalty” or “reign” of (God) was Jesus’s central message. The Greek word for Kingdom is “Royalty” or reign. John 18:36 Jesus answered, My “reign” (kingdom) is not of this world: if my reign (kingdom) were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Judaeans: but now is my reign (kingdom) not from hence.” This was a prophecy which came true on the Day of Pentecost the soon coming of the Royalty and reign of the Holy Spirit this was Jesus’s central message. It is only by the Holy Spirit alone can bring about a realm of faith, freedom, and love. The only promise in the New Testament is receiving the Holy Spirit who was sent by the Father (God). Jesus sits at the right of the Father. What is this? even if they call them the “kingdom of God.” Jesus answered, My “reign” (kingdom) is not of this world. This is what I mean by confusion.
What I find interesting about the topics you discuss is that, to me, it illustrates that Religion isn’t fit for purpose if it doesn’t provide equal and fair good for all. For Religion to be impactful, it should present thorough and consistent good across all, it is flawed in its approach by the question alone of its goodness. Furthermore, I find it insane that religion influences politics from that basis….
Thanks for your comment. I don’t see that you have said enough here for me to reply. Why don’t you reply to a specific argument I’ve made? Christianity is not a political philosophy; it is a way of knowing God and pursuing salvation in this life and beyond. It claims to be grounded in historical reality. If that does not interest you, then fine. But it makes little sense to criticize it for not being something it never claimed to be.
Thank you for your response. I understand why you feel that way, my thoughts are based in an ideal that adopted behaviours and belief that stem from religion should have a positive impact across the board. It is not a political philosophy, but Christianity (alongside other religions) exist as persuasion, including over Politics.
“DEI philosophy insists that a just social system must produce equal outcomes of economic welfare for all identity groups.” Religion would prevent this and has prevented this for long periods of time. I agree DEI thought isn’t progressive, and the War on Religion has made it clear historically that DEI isn’t an outcome.
My problem is with the existence of religion, the idea that we cannot create DEI based on being human rather than “higher power” — why do we consider Religion to be anything more than make-believe? If it doesn’t serve us ALL, why do we spend any time looking at the role of those that do follow it, or what it fails at?
Is the assertion “God exists” either true or false? Is there a rational way to discuss which is more probable? Does it matter? You speak of religions as if they contained no truth claims and should be judged only by their practical effects. How does one determine what practical effects are good or right? Make-believe? Perhaps. But that is a conclusion that must be supported rather than an unexamined assumption. Is there a moral law that applies to everyone? Or are moral categories also make-believe? Are we to reduce them to psychological, social/political, biological, or aesthetic categories? I think we’d have to talk a long time to find a common starting point.