As college students have returned to campus, anti-critical race theory efforts are in high gear, asserting that the legal academic concept poses a "threat" to conservative Christian colleges and other higher learning institutions.
Fear-mongering surrounding critical race theory has been brewing in conservative and evangelical spaces for more than two years, especially since the unprecedented outpouring of support for Black life after the police murder of George Floyd.
The term critical race theory, coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, is a concept created by the late attorney and Harvard University Prof. Derrick Bell, who believed racial progress was only achievable when Black and white goals converged.
The fear-mongering was largely generated by conservative journalist Christopher Rufo in 2020. In a New Yorker interview in June 2021, Rufo wrote: "Critical race theory is the perfect villain."
He told NPR recently that his use of the term is "both effective and accurate."
In November 2020, the Southern Baptist Convention's six seminary presidents signed a statement that "condemned racism in any form" and also said that "affirmation of Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and any version of Critical Theory is incompatible with the Baptist Faith & Message."
In November 2021, parents and alumni of Grove City College, a formerly Presbyterian liberal arts school in Grove City, Pa., created a petition accusing GCC of "mission drift" by inviting guest speaker Dr. Jemar Tisby. In April, the board of trustees at GCC released a special report to address the accusations in the petition, ultimately saying the invite was a "mistake."