Is Critical Race Theory Marxist?

What is the connection between Marxist thinking, Critical Race Theory, and actions by churches (including the Church of England) to address the perceived experience of racial injustice? The question is contested, but it is not straightforward, since Critical Race Theory has a complex intellectual history, and the underlying assumptions in the debates about race and ethnicity are not always evident from the language used on the surface.

In this helpful essay, Matthew Morgan explores the connections and parallels, looking back at the origins of Critical Theory and Critical Race Theory. It is a longer read than usual—but bear with it, since it makes some important observations!

Matthew Morgan writes: In this essay, I argue that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a form of Marxism. It is derived from the work of self-avowed Marxist Antonio Gramsci and thinkers from the explicitly Marxist Frankfurt School, particularly Max Horkheimer, Theodore Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse. CRT substitutes Marx’s view of oppression of the working class through economic means with oppression of ethnic minorities through cultural means. It claims Western culture is designed to intentionally oppress ethnic minorities. One of the ways this is done is through the use of media, which significantly influences the ideas of the culture. A form of this oppressive media is Martin Luther King Jr’s idea of ‘colour blindness’. Additionally, CRT views all institutions, including the Church of England, as founded in order to support and continue this oppression of ethnic minorities.

CRT proposes that the solution to this oppressive culture is the development and appointing of ethnic minority individuals to position of power on the basis of their felt knowledge (‘lived experience’) in order that they may work to deconstruct the racist culture and build a new culture where ethnic minorities are able to control the culture.

Recent statements and publications by the Church of England regarding racial justice use strikingly similar language and ideas to CRT. As such, these publications are not impartial analysis of racism in the CofE, but ideologically charged documents.

I conclude by urging caution in using CRT. In particular, it ought not to be considered an analytical tool devoid of any ulterior ideology. I propose that CRT is not the same as the biblical understanding of ethnic tension and its proposed solutions are inferior to the Bible’s vision of unity in Christ through his atoning death and resurrection.

The theoretical underpinning of Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been much debated. For critics such as James Lindsay, it is a Marxist attempt to spread chaos and foment unrest in the West, especially America. (James Lindsay, Critical Race Theory 2020). For advocates, it is a necessary and vital corrective to current Western culture and Christianity. Descriptions of CRT as Marxism are therefore perceived as hurtful attempts to malign this much needed work. (See Christianity and Critical Race Theory Robert Romero, Liou Chao, and M Jeff. 2023, p 9)

In what follows, I will attempt to outline the ideological roots of CRT in Marxist thought as it was developed by the Frankfurt School and by Antonio Gramsci. After doing this, I will explain some of the claims being made in popular culture from within the CRT framework and then pose what I consider to be a particular problem for CRT.

What is Critical Race Theory?

Richard Delgado (a founding contributor to CRT) and Jean Stefancic define CRT in their introductory text on the topic:

The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars engaged in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power. The movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies discourses take up but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, setting, group and self-interest, and emotions and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law. (Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory (Third Edition). 2017, p. 3.)

In short, CRT is an approach to studying racial dynamics within and on society. It does so by challenging the fundamentals of Western society as perpetuating racial hostility and oppression. As Delgado and Stefancic write, “Racism is ordinary […] the usual way society does business, the common, everyday experience of most people in [America]” (ibid, p 8). Though it was specifically developed within the context of the United States, as shown by the above quotation, CRT is being applied to other Western countries, and to the West in general.

(Why) should we explore the origins of CRT?

There may well be some who would argue that exploring the theoretical origins of CRT is itself racist. As I hope to show, such an endeavour might be conceived as an attempt of the oppressive hegemony (the dominant power) to retain power and divert the attention of the oppressed groups so that they stay oppressed. That is, that outlining the origins and framework of CRT is actually an attempt to undermine CRT and continue the racism that exists in society. Even is there is some truth in that, stifling questions about CRT will not help achieve the goals of racial justice and will just increase the sense of antagonism. It is in everyone’s interests that we are open and honest about the origins and methods of CRT. 

As I will argue below, CRT holds that the hegemonic revolution (the change of the dominant power) will occurs through the conversion of ‘traditional’ intellectuals by ‘organic’ intellectuals to their way of thinking, leading to a fundamental change in culture which will liberate the oppressed. In other words, CRT, and the Marxist framework it is built on, claims that a key elements of ending oppression is by intellectuals (academics, journalists, teachers, social media influencers, religious leaders; anyone who influences culture) who have experienced the racist oppression firsthand (organic intellectuals) convincing intellectuals who do not believe that this racist oppression exists (traditional intellectuals) that CRT is correct and society is controlled by a racist, oppressive culture. 

When these traditional intellectuals realise that CRT is true, they will start convincing others. This initiates a change in the culture of our society, which is one step closer to freeing everyone from the racist powers, systems, and institutions that are currently in control.  Traditional intellectuals are unable to access the knowledge base of the organic intellectuals because this knowledge is felt and experienced (otherwise called ‘lived experience’). Opportunities that allow traditional intellectuals to engage with the underlying theory might provide avenues for greater understanding, which might in fact prove to be in the interest of those who support CRT.

There are two ways that I could argue that CRT is rooted in Marxism: 

  1. By following the evolution of ideas within Marxism and Neo-Marxism through the key thinkers of the respective movements; and/or 
  2. By showing that the framework underpinning CRT is sufficiently similar to a Marxist framework.

I will seek to address both of these.

The historical link with Antonio Gramsci

There are two different avenues for the evolution of Marxist thought that need to be explored: Antonio Gramsci; and the Frankfurt School.

The link between Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist writing in 1920s Italy, and CRT is relatively straightforward to show. Delgado and Stefancic list him as one of the “European philosophers and theorists” (bid, p 5) from which CRT draws, though they do not specify in which ways he has influenced the theory. Baucham and Trueman both suggest that this influence came primarily in the form of Gramsci’s conception of ‘hegemony’ (Voddie Baucham Fault Lines 2021 p xii; Carl Trueman The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self 2020 chapter 7 ‘The New Left and the Politicization of Sex’).

Gramsci witnessed the Russian revolution from afar, and the rise of Italian Fascism that preceded Mussolini from up close. He was primarily focused on making sense of the political and cultural situation in Italy, in particular how culture contributed to the liberation of the proletariat. (Steven Jones, Antonio Gramsci 1st ed. 2007, RISORGIMENTO AND TRANSFORMISMO).

Gramsci’s contribution to CRT: the ideas of Base, Superstructure, and Hegemony

In seeking to understand the role the culture played in bringing about revolution, Gramsci turned to Marx’s concept of ‘base’ and ‘superstructure’. The ‘base’ is “the economic structure of society” (Karl Marx: Selected Writings 1977 ed D McLellan, OUP p 389). On this base rests the ‘superstructure’, made up of all “legal, educational, artistic and political activities” (Gramsci BASE AND SUPERSTRUCTURE) in that society. The superstructure serves to support the economic structure and enable continued economic exploitation. As such, “[t]o truly change society, the base would have to be fundamentally changed”. 

In the face of the revolutions that Marx predicted failing to materialise, and one he didn’t predict—the Russian Revolution—Gramsci sought to explain why Communist endeavours had been so unsuccessful. He suggested that the cause was twofold: the true fight is found in the superstructure; and this fight needs to be focused on changing the prevailing cultural ideas in this superstructure.

Crucial to the idea of the superstructure is what Gramsci calls ‘civil society’, which is “the ensemble of organisms commonly called private” (Gramsci. Selections from the Prison Notebooks 1971 p 12), that is “political organisations, […] the church, the school system, sports teams, the media and the family […] children’s parties, shopping trips and going on holiday.” (Jones, Gramsci, CIVIL SOCIETY). Thus, all of life, for Gramsci, is the focus of revolutionary activity. Marx’s critique of economic institutions has been expanded to encompass the everyday and the mundane within each person’s life. The group which can direct and mould the superstructure by means of the ‘civil society’ is the hegemonic, or dominant, group. 

For Gramsci, this hegemony (or power) is only attainable for the working class through tactical alliances with other dominated groups (Antonio Gramsci Pre-Prison Writings 1994. CUP p 320), which he termed ‘sub-alterns’. Due to the structure of Italian society during Gramsci’s life, these alliances were formed by incorporating cultural concerns of peasants into the working class (Jones, Gramsci, HEGEMONY: OVERVIEW). When this hegemony functions well, it will change and develop based on the various dominated groups being represented, with the ‘lead group’ taking on aims and values that it would not have done by itself, but which are important to the other groups involved.

However, Gramsci saw a more sinister side to the ruling hegemony. Influenced by Machiavelli, Gramsci believed that all hegemony was fundamentally “underpinned by the threat of violence” (Jones, Gramsci COERCION AND CONSENT). This violence could be physical, though this is likely to be rare, or it could be the ‘violence’ of repressive media. For Gramsci, this was conceived as written texts, but the argument is easily expandable to all forms of media. The ideal hegemony would be one where no violence were needed and the ruling group lead with the full consent of the others. 

However, such situations are likely to be rare. In reality, hegemonies are often ‘limited’. The ruling group feigns an interest in the desires of others in order to win support whilst at the same time working to prevent these other groups’ aims being achieved. (Jones, Gramsci, LIMITED AND EXPANSIVE HEGEMONY). A modern example of this might be ‘greenwashing’ by corporations—taking nominal actions in order to appear as if they are doing more for the environment than they actually are, whilst preserving their dominance and suppressing opposition. 

Thus, for Gramsci, the fight for revolution was against a ruling bourgeoisie who have limited hegemony but who are maintaining power through appearing to appease the ‘civil society’ and committing violence through repressive media. 

The Role of the Intellectual

A cultural revolution of the superstructure requires culture-creators (intellectuals; anyone who in anyway shaped the superstructure) to lead the charge. Gramsci termed intellectuals that had formed out of the subjugated groups ‘organic intellectuals’ (Jones, Gramsci, ORGANIC INTELLECTUALS) and those who saw themselves as free from the all-encompassing political issues as ‘traditional intellectuals’.

A key task for any group seeking to change the hegemony was to seek the conversion of traditional intellectuals to the political activism of the organic intellectuals. (Jones, Gramsci, TRADITIONAL INTELLECTUALS). This is primarily done through the traditional intellectuals learning to feel the ‘common sense’ (felt experience) of those who have been oppressed (Jones, Gramsci, INTELLECTUALS, POPULAR CULTURE AND COMMON SENSE) and thereby realising that all of life is political and the site of revolutionary action.

Parallels with The Frankfurt School

Gramsci is unlikely to have ever interacted with the Frankfurt School (Renate Holub, Antonio Gramsci 2005), which was developing in Europe at the same time as Gramsci was writing—yet there is remarkable overlap in the adjustments that they made to Marx’s theory.

The Frankfurt School was founded and funded by Felix Weil in Germany following the success of the First Marxist Work Week in 1922, which he also funded (Beverley Best, Werner Bonefeld, and Chris O′Kane The SAGE Handbook of Frankfurt School Critical Theory). It existed in various forms into the 1960s and 70s, with the leading thinkers experiencing something of a diaspora following the Second World War, during which time many fled to America before returning to Germany in the 1950s. The school is credited with developing Critical Theory, which was adapted to the legal profession through Critical Legal Studies. This, in turn, was adapted to produce Critical Race Theory by Derrick Bell, Richard Delgado, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and others. (Delgado and Stefancic, Critical Race Theory, p. 5; Baucham, Fault Lines, p xii)

Its most influential members for this discussion were Theodore Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse. Horkheimer directed the school from 1930-1958 and precipitated the shift from a classical Marxist examination of economic institutions and developments to a focus on socio-cultural study. Adorno and Marcuse facilitated Critical Theory’s focus on the action of the oppressed individual, with both advocating a “praxis that fights barbarism” (Best et al, p 8) caused by a society that is culturally and politically repressive. Adorno particularly articulated a view of society strikingly similar to Gramsci’s ‘limited hegemony’; bourgeois (middle and upper class) society is inherently repressive and has been actively diminishing the cultural capacity of the proletariat (working class) (Best et al, p 7). What thus emerged from the Frankfurt School in Critical Theory, particularly from the work of Horkheimer, was “an immanent critique of society, […] it holds that in its immediate and direct appearance the whole of society is untrue” (Best et al p 2).

As Trueman has argued (in Strange New World p 8), Marcuse was the foundation for the modern distrust of the principle of free speech, since he argued that Western societies form a repressive ‘false consciousness’ within oppressed groups through allowing the dissemination of repressive speech under the guise of tolerance of ideas. Simply put, ‘freedom of speech’ is a way of Western societies preventing minorities from being heard. It is used to diminish their experiences of oppression by suggesting that people from dominant groups who disagree have equally valid opinions and ideas. This approach to media and speech is strikingly similar to Gramsci’s contention of violent texts which serve to further subjugate the proletariat.

Similarities to CRT

While the historical links between Marxism and the different theories are relatively easy to show, as are the parallels between Gramsci and the Frankfurt school, the question remains whether these ideas form the ideological framework of CRT. There appear to be several significant areas of overlap: hegemony; the felt experience of the oppressed; and the importance of organic intellectuals.

Perhaps the clearest example of the use of hegemony in CRT is found when Delgado and Stefancic discuss the inadequacy of ‘colour blindness’, the view proposed by Martin Luther King Jr. (in his ‘I have a dream’ speech) that a person “not be judged on the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”. They argue that 

if racism is embedded in our thought process and social structures as deeply as many crits [CRT theorists] believe, then the “ordinary business” of society—the routines, practices, and institutions that we rely on to do the world’s work—will keep minorities in subordinate positions. Only aggressive, color-conscious [sic] efforts to change the way things are will do much to ameliorate misery. (Delgado and Stefancic, Critical Race Theory p 27)

This is a parallel of Gramsci’s limited hegemony applied to race, combined with the Frankfurt Schools’ assumption of an intentionally hostile hegemony. Minorities, which here means ‘non-white’ individuals, are subjugated under a white-based hegemony by the societal superstructure. The ‘common sense’ of the majority of the minorities is kept under control by the white hegemony’s suggestion that race is no longer considered a factor in how decisions are made, thus resorting to the violence of media that Gramsci and Marcuse suggested. 

The salvation for minorities comes through the rising up of ‘organic intellectuals’ in a ‘praxis that fights barbarism’ in the superstructure of cultural and political institutions, such as the application of the law. This is why, in the definition given at the start of this piece, CRT is described as a “collection of activists and scholars”—though, strictly speaking, this is not entirely accurate. Given the quotation just explored, it would be more appropriate to say that CRT is a collection of activist-scholars. These activist scholars fall into two groups. Activist-scholars, in Gramsci’s terms, are traditional intellectuals who have become convinced of the pervasive nature of race-based oppression in the civil society and have sought to integrate their work into the political and cultural fight for hegemonic revolution. Activist-scholars are organic intellectuals from oppressed communities who are seeking to educate the culture on the felt experience and knowledge of those groups.  (See Delgado and Stefancic, Critical Race Theory, pp 46-47).

Understanding claims in popular culture and the Church

Understanding this foundational framework of CRT helps to make sense of a variety of remarks that have been made in recent years.

a. “Black people can’t be racist”.

Racism is now viewed not merely as practical acts of discrimination based on skin colour or ethnicity, but as a form of oppressive power exercised by a dominant white hegemony against black people. In fact, under a ‘praxis that fights barbarism’, what would have originally been considered racism against white people is now a legitimate attempt to subvert the white hegemony. 

For example, see Ibram X. Kendi’s comments about discrimination: 

The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination.

That is, the only way to solve discrimination against minorities by white people is for minorities to discriminate against white people. (Kendi appears to have pulled back slightly from this line of reasoning in recent years.)

b. “The Church of England is deeply institutionally racist” (Justin Welby)

As with the previous statement, racism is now claimed to be a function of institutional power, and not of direct discrimination between individuals. As such, it is assumed that longstanding institutions were founded in order to support the hegemony of that culture. In the case of the CofE, it is assumed that it was founded to support the white hegemony of a colonial England. 

Any such institution which has not become actively in support of CRT in its teaching and practice is perceived as contributing to the continuing oppression of minorities. This contribution can be active or passive—active in that it is seeking to promote the power of white people and suppress the power of minorities, or passive in that it is not taking positive steps to elevate the organic intellectuals of minorities into positions of power so that they can start to subvert the white hegemony. Justin Welby appeared to be particularly emphasising the passive contribution in his remarks about the CofE.

c. Frustration, evidence, and language

The frustration at the failure to effect change by address specific actions can be heard in all the recent debates about race and ethnicity in the Church. This has strong parallels with frustration of the Frankfurt School in the US at the failure to effect change by tackling the phenomena of racism in culture.

Much of the language now being used in the Racial Justice programme in the Church of England is lifted directly from Critical Race Theory. Thus a recent job advertisement for a racial justice office in Birmingham had the goal of ‘deconstructing whiteness‘. Contrary to the claims of Justin Welby, this language was not nonsense management-speak, but terminology deliberately selected from CRT vocabulary.  Guy Hewitt, Church of England’s director of racial justice, believes that the only way to fulfil Jesus’ command of love for neighbour is to be ‘antiracist‘. And those who question this kind of approach are simply manifesting ‘white fragility’ and are failing to listen to the ‘lived experience’ of others. All these terms have been specifically coined by CRT activists in the US.

The Marxist distinction between ‘base’ and ‘superstructure’, as developed by Gramsci, is evident in the theology section of the Church of England report on racial justice, From Lament to Action (emphasis added):

The theology strand of the Racial Justice Commission will review the foundations and principal theological frameworks which entrench racial prejudice across the Church of England’s traditions and doctrines. This will help the Commission to address wider issues relating to systemic and structural racism within the Church of England, exploring the ways certain theological foundations have legitimised racism in order to redress them.

To understand why theological disparities exist which support a graded worldview within the Church, the Commission will consider initiating detailed analysis and commission new research if necessary, to shed light on the Church of England’s theological foundations of prejudice and discrimination. We hope this will lead to the Commission offering alternative theological paradigms which facilitate diversity, inclusion and equity among all members of the body of Christ.

The focus here is not on the specifics, evidence, or even the culture of the Church, but on its ‘base’ in terms of its core theological foundations. These are (ideologically) believed to be inherently racist.

Something similar is found in the Oversight Group report on the claimed complicity of the Queen Anne’s Bounty, the predecessor of the Church Commissioners. It includes this demand about missionary activity in Africa, on the basis that the whole missionary enterprise was ‘Afriphobic’.

Theology and ethics
32. Penitence: We call for the Church of England to apologise publicly for denying that Black Africans are made in the image of God and for seeking to destroy diverse African traditional religious belief systems. This act of repair should intentionally facilitate ongoing and new sociological, historical and theological research into spiritual traditions in Africa and the diaspora, thereby enabling a fresh dialogue between African traditional belief systems and the Gospel. This work should reach beyond theological institutions and be presented in ways that will enable all Africans, especially descendants of the enslaved to discover the varied belief systems and spiritual practices of their forebears and their efficacy. We recommend the Commissioners work with all faith-based communities to which descendants of African chattel enslavement belong.

This claim has little relation to the purpose of the report; it is not based on evidence, and in fact completely ignores the historical facts that the missionary movement was instrumental in eliminating slavery within Africa. It is about challenging, at an ideological level, the basic assumptions of the whole Church.

The lack of attention to evidence is a hallmark of many of the Racial Justice initiatives; evidence is not what counts, rather, it is the base assumptions underpinning the whole outlook that needs to be changed.

None of this necessarily makes the actions of the Racial Justice unit ‘Marxist’ or Critical Race Theorist. But the parallels in language and goals are striking, and at the very least it suggests that the approach needs attention and rethinking.

Is Critical Race Theory Marxist?

I have argued that Critical Race Theory is Marxist, both in its origin in the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt school and the work of Antonio Gramsci, and in its structure. I have argued that CRT is founded upon a view of society that parallels Antonio Gramsci’s adaptation of Marx’s idea of the base and superstructure. In CRT, this superstructure is dominated by a white hegemony. This white hegemony is believed to maintain its power through the use of violent, repressive media in the civil society of everyday life, paralleling Horkheimer, Marcuse, and Gramsci’s views. 

One of the ways that CRT claims this is done is through the spreading of the idea of colour-blindness which originated with Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Colour-blindness, it is argued, encourages minorities to believe that there is no white hegemony. Believers of CRT are exhorted to fight against the repressive system of the white hegemony, as Adorno and Marcuse advocated against all oppressive hegemonies. The leaders of this fight are those who have gained the felt knowledge (lived experience) which comes from experiencing the oppression of the hegemony. This is a form of Gramsci’s organic intellectual. 

I have then briefly explored CRT’s influence behind two emerging views in society: black people can’t be racist; and institutional racism. In the exploration of the latter, I have implied that CRT has, at least implicitly, shaped Justin Welby’s assessment of the Church of England as a racist institution, as well as other key elements in the current ‘racial justice’ activities.


Given all that has been discussed above, it would appear wise that the Church of England, and all Christians for that matter, be particularly cautious in drawing upon Critical Race Theory, or any theory which shares its framework, as it seeks to develop its thinking about ethnicity. At the very least, CRT ought not to be used naively as merely an analytical tool, as some advocate, when it is evidently founded upon a Marxist worldview.

Further, open conversation is needed across the Church about whether this worldview is consistent with the biblical conception of ethnic prejudice, equity, and justice. I would contend that a CRT worldview is not consistent with the biblical witness to ethnic prejudice and its resolution in Jesus. I would further argue that the biblical vision of unity in Christ through his atoning death and resurrection, creating a multinational, diverse community, presents a far better resource for addressing racism today. But outlining what this biblical vision is and how it differs from CRT will have to be done at another time.

Matthew Morgan is an ordinand in the Church of England, studying at St Hild College, and lives in York.

(The picture at the top is borrowed from a review article of a book on Critical Race Theory and the Christian faith here.)

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118 thoughts on “Is Critical Race Theory Marxist?”

  1. Thanks, Ian and Matthew for an interesting article, with some good points – and some that I would disagree with. I would be interested though, Ian, for you to host an article by a black Christian with a more positive view of CRT for a more balanced view.

    I do feel that helpful as this article is, it is in some ways an exercise in missing the point. The question isn’t so much ‘What’s Marxist about CRT?’, but more ‘Why are some black Christians using CRT?’ Speaking as a very white, middle-class, English man, but married to a black Jamaican for 46 years and with three children making their way in the world…..
    (1) We have come a long way from when my Windrush-era mother-in-law was told to leave an Anglican church, as her kind weren’t wanted, but there is still plenty of racism about.
    (2) Institutional racism is still a reality in Western society, and in the UK. Even if you are cynical about a lot of surveys and the like, there is still plenty left.

    Perhaps I might quote the article summary, “I propose that CRT is not the same as the biblical understanding of ethnic tension and its proposed solutions are inferior to the Bible’s vision of unity in Christ through his atoning death and resurrection.” Perhaps CRT is being used because the church isn’t teaching this unity? And let’s not take the standard line here and dump it all on the bishops, or wheel our our usual solutions for all the ills of society. The question is, “What are you and your church doing locally to promote that unity?” Not just by preaching the Gospel – essential as that is – but also practically in your community?

    I could perhaps fill this out more, but I don’t want to ramble on!!! Hope it made some sense.

    • Hi Jon,
      I would completely agree that at a local level we need to be teaching and living out this unity, and that it is no surprise that other theories have been used if we haven’t been doing this. Where we haven’t done this, we need to repent and make biblical unity in Christ a top priority.

      What do you mean by ‘institutional racism is still a reality’? Are you suggesting that some or most institutions in the UK still have policies that discriminate against ethnic minorities on the basis of ethnicity?

      Matthew Morgan

    • Thanks Jon for your usual thoughtful question.

      I speak on this as the son of a migrant who face similar post-war discrimination, expressed in the well-known signs on lodgings ‘No Dogs. No Blacks. No Irish.’

      We have come a long way from that era—but note that when Windrush landed, we were 2% non-white as a country, and that actually meant for around 96% of the country, our communities were 100% non-white. That does not excuse racism, but it does highlight the fact that all minorities, especially very small minorities, find life very difficult. (The figure is now around 14% non-white).

      I think you need to explain what you mean by ‘institutional racism’, and offer some evidence for your claim. Our education system does appear to disadvantage one particular ethnic group (if you do a univariate rather than multivariate analysis)—but that group is white boys. Chinese, Asian, and African black all come at the top of Government tables.

      People like Tony Sewell will point out that black Africans top the performance tables in things like business success, employment generally, educational attainment, and earnings.

      Why do people reach for CRT approaches? Probably because they are not the only game in town, but the easiest ones to pick up without too much effort.

      Yes, that is a good question to ask. But in my experience, local churches are usually the most diverse in any local community.

      And in the Church nationally, there is a serious question about the motivation for all this action and expenditure. A recent ad in Yorkshire lamented that only 3% of clergy and laity in York diocese were GMH…before quietly noting that that exactly reflects Yorkshire. And given that many of those will be Muslim, and that others attend black-led churches, 3% for the Anglicans is *by the measure chosen* looking good. So what is the need for action?

      • Thanks, Ian, a helpful response. Again I agree with some comments and am less sure about others. I really don’t want to get into a long exchange (there are far to many of those on the blog, that do tend to degenerate!!!), but will just throw in a few thoughts.
        (1) My response was to some extent emotive – which is unusual for me. I have lived close enough to my children’s and my in-law’s lives to find one-sided approaches to race unacceptable. I’ve also worked in over 20 countries east of the Greenwich Meridian. We may be better than many, but that’s no excuse.
        (2) My younger daughter would tell you that in her area of London, racism has got worse, probably due to austerity and covid.
        (3) Institutional racism? A quick Google throws up plenty to think about. Even if one throws away some as part of the race-relations industry, there’s a lot left. If I had to choose one area, I would probably pick out the police. Most are really good people, but there is still an underlying problem. Perhaps I am biased? One of my wife’s uncles was one of the Stockwell Six, and although things have improved, my brother-in-laws can tell some interesting tales.
        (4) It’s very easy to throw out phrases like “woke”, “cultural Marxism” and (sorry Anton) “pernicious drivel” in a Daily Mail-like way to prevent thought and change.
        (5) I’ll have to accept your church statistics. My own observation is that bums on seats is not always equivalent in being involved in leadership and being asked to contribute. And we can be very slow to bring in the richness of other cultures into our worship.

        That’s more than enough from me. But I’ve been reading Gitta Sereny’s most excellent book, “Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth.” Since writing my first comment, I read the following: “Neither Hess nor he, he said, had been what he would call ‘conscious anti-Semites.’….. But both of them, he said, however aware or unaware, had grown up in a society riddled with anti-Semitism.” A different topic, but on race, I think that the UK has got beyond that, but that there’s still some distance to go. Blessings.

        • I don’t myself like or use the phrase “cultural Marxism”. But it is the Woke who prevent thought and I do not want change in the way they want.

          I am deeply committed to the colour-blind model. Are you? Kindly include a clear yes or no in any reply.

          • Anton,
            You haven’t asked yes-or-no questions. So, yes, I am colour-blind in the sense that I appreciate all humanity as God’s creation, and enjoy the cultural differences found therein. My potted biography tells you that. However, also no, the term colour-blind is unfortunately also used as a form of cultural denial, making people blind to differences and to racism.

            As for ‘woke’, I’m afraid that I’m very much ‘woke’ – in the proper technical term, not the hi-jacked version. The term was used by black Americans just to mean ‘awake’ to the injustice around them. Unfortunately, the media have diverted the term away from race to refer to anything they don’t like.

          • By the colour-blind model I mean, for example, choosing people who best fit the job description regardless of their skin colour. Anything which prevents that – racism, quotas etc – I deplore.

            Gramsci’s attitude was nicely summed up in Rudi Dutschke’s phrase ‘long march through the institutions’. I am aware, by the way, of the change from the original meaning of the word Woke. The mainstream meaning today is not at all as meaningless as you assert. It is a shorter version of what used to be called ‘politically correct’. CRT derives not just from the Frankfurt School (most of whom packed their bags and emigrated to the USA, to its detriment) but also from the French school most conveniently summed up in the phrase postmodernist. Feel free to ask me for more detail, of the sort you won’t find in the Daily Mail.

          • Anton – let me enlighten you. A ‘cultural Marxist’ is someone who hasn’t read – and imagines he probably disagrees with – the theories expressed by Charlie Marx in his volume ‘Das Kapital’, but likes some of the cultural features – for example, his hair cut. So a ‘cultural Marxist’ is a follower of Karl Marx in haircut alone.

          • Anton …. and while the definition of ‘Critical Race Theory’ in the article looked like gobbledygook (in the sense that I didn’t understand it), I’d hazard a guess that it has something to do with Formula 1 racing, where there was a much disputed critical race between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen several years ago.

      • “Yes, that is a good question to ask. But in my experience, local churches are usually the most diverse in any local community.”

        Yes but what about local church leadership? Given that local churches are so diverse (as you state above), why is local church leadership not representative of that diversity? Especially given that every church leadership book you read says that you should be training up leaders from among your congregation rather than importing the expert (for reference Marcus Honeysett’s “Fruitful Leaders.”

      • “I think it is one of the tragedies –– one of the shameful tragedies –– that 11 o’clock on Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours, if not the most segregated hour, in Christian America”

        Martin Luther King Jr

      • “And given that many of those will be Muslim, and that others attend black-led churches, 3% for the Anglicans is *by the measure chosen* looking good. So what is the need for action?”

        Well, before advocating collective inertia on this issue, you might want to consider the many foreign-born Anglicans who migrate to the UK. For example, among the 96.5 million Christians in Nigeria, 18 million belong to the Anglican Church of Nigeria. That’s 19 per cent, almost 1 in 5.

        For Uganda, the proportion is 21 per cent. For South India, it’s 11 per cent. For South Sudan, it’s 1 in 2.

        Even if they are only estimates, it is thought-provoking to juxtapose the facts that 1 in 5 Nigerian Christians identify as Anglican, and that there are over 141,000 Nigerian-born people living in the UK.

        In fact, there are thousands upon thousands of GMH Anglicans from overseas who (like their Windrush forbears) only end up joining black-led/black-majority churches because they can no longer endure the subtler modern form of the overt racist rejection that the CofE doled out to the Windrush generation in the 60s.

        Back then, even as black Anglicans, my parents were repeatedly asked rhetorically by CofE churchgoers: “wouldn’t you all be happier worshipping elsewhere?”

        That relegation of black people with Anglican spiritual heritage to a “separate but equal” status continues to this day.

        • David Shepherd writes:
          “In fact, there are thousands upon thousands of GMH Anglicans from overseas who (like their Windrush forbears) only end up joining black-led/black-majority churches because they can no longer endure the subtler modern form of the overt racist rejection that the CofE doled out to the Windrush generation in the 60s.”
          And you know this for a fact? Is it not the case that the Anglican Church in Nigeria has a struggle on its own hands keeping Nigerian Anglicans from joining local Pentecostal churches, some very much in the ‘prosperity gospel’ orbit?(This tug-o-faith between rather staid Anglicanism and expressive Pentecostalism is a familiar one in the West Indies as well – it didn’t start in England.) Do you think Nigerian immigrants to Britain are any different? Do they feel similar spiritual attractions as their families at home do? Do they face “subtle racism” (so “subtle” you can’t see it!) or are these not the typical cultural differences and dislocation that people feel moving from their homeland to a different country? It is not surprising that the African immigrant in a strange land seeks to recreate something of his or her homeland and may find this in a church that validates familiar African clothing, worship styles, preaching styles and leadership patterns. It’s why the Catholic Church in the UK offers Polish and Tagalog masses in the big cities, if it can. It’s why there are many Lutheran churches in the US.
          If African immigrants in Britain want to recreate an African spiritual world here, will you blame them for this?

          • I would add that if the Anglican Church of Nigeria wanted to establish a network of Nigerian Anglican churches in the UK, they probably would. But it would likely lead to a war with the C of E. The Church of Nigeria and ACNA have already battled over this.

          • James wrote: “Is it not the case that the Anglican Church in Nigeria has a struggle on its own hands keeping Nigerian Anglicans from joining local Pentecostal churches, some very much in the ‘prosperity gospel’ orbit?”

            Even by the most conservative count of 8 million (vs. the official 18 million), the Anglican Church in Nigeria continues its phenomenal growth, albeit largely through natural increase, rather than via conversion.

            Therefore, I’d hardly consider the impact of Nigerian Anglicans joining Pentecostal denominations to constitute “a struggle on its own hands”.

            In fact, Andrew McKinnon’s 2021 analysis of the 2010 Pew Research Center Tolerance and Conflict survey explained that, for the Anglican Church in Nigeria: “of those who were raised as Anglicans, 70% still identify as Anglican at the time of the survey”. So, based on that proportion, I’d ask you the self-same question that you posed to me: “Do you think Nigerian immigrants to Britain are any different?”

            Correctly, the rhetorical answer is ‘no’. So, it stands to reason that a substantial proportion of Nigerian (and other) Anglican immigrants would still prefer to continue to worship according to Anglican tradition.

            Also, your mention of the Catholic Church in the UK offering Polish and Tagalog masses provides an outstanding example of welcome and adaptation for the CofE to emulate.

            You wrote: “And you know this for a fact?” In stating ‘this’, it is not clear whether your question relates to a specific part or the entirety of the statement that you quoted.

            For example, despite General Synod unanimously “backing a motion to ‘lament’ and apologise for conscious and unconscious racism encountered by ‘countless’ black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) Anglicans arriving in Britain from 1948 and in subsequent years, when seeking to find a home in the Church of England”, you might be asking how I know (or General Synod knows) that such conscious, overt racism is a fact –

            Therefore, although Doreen Brown’s family was described by the Archbishop of Canterbury as suffering “a horrible, humiliating racism which still affects Doreen’s relationship with the Church even today”, you might surmise (without evidence) that they weren’t so much barred from entering St. Peter’s Church in Walworth as they were being encouraged “to recreate something of [their] homeland” elsewhere, so they might “find this in a church that validates familiar [Caribbean] clothing, worship styles, preaching styles and leadership patterns.”

            The modern word describing such attempts to re-cast a victim’s account of contemptible rejection as misinterpreted beneficence is ‘gaslighting’.

            In ‘Look What the Lord Has Done! An Exploration of Black Christian Faith in Britain’, Mark Sturges provided ample evidence that the Windrush experience of racism in the Church was a major factor (though not the only one) influencing black Anglicans to leave the CofE in droves and set up and join black-led denominations.

            That’s a far cry from “African immigrants in Britain want to recreate an African spiritual world here” and to suggest that I’m taking issue with immigrant spiritual aspirations is a ‘straw man’.

            Of course, if you don’t accept Sturges’ findings, then you should provide hard evidence to the contrary.

        • David,

          You are engaging in basic CRT methodology. Your lived experience is being presented as authoritative

          The actual empirical evidence is that the UK is not a racist country

          • Peter,

            You’re engaging in defensive ‘gaslighting’. For example, you’ve merely assert about “actual empirical evidence” without providing any summary of it.

            In contrast, I already provided a link to my Psephizo post ( which provided hard evidence of ongoing racism in the UK.

            My own lived experience chimes with the evidence that I provided, but is not intended by itself to be any more authoritative than if I was testifying about my experience of conversion to Christ.

    • Jon, can you or your wife suggest to Ian the name(s) of one or two black Christians with a more positive view of CRT, who would be suitable authors of the piece you want to see? Or maybe you have already done so.

  2. There has never been a less racist society than modern Western civilisation. The USA has recently had a black President. We have a Hindu-origin Prime Minister and umpteen non-wite Cabinet ministers. (Kemi Badenoch is my favourite.) Those things would have been unthinkable in a seriously racist society. There is never room for complacency, but CRT is pernicious drivel and should be fought with all the spiritual weapons that the church – of England and anywhere else – can muster. It actively promotes racial hatred, and I wonder what its conclusions would if applied to China or Arabia or Japan?

    For ‘traditional’ Marxism, I recommend the book Marxism by Thomas Sowell – for my money the wisest man in America today and a former Marxist economist who changed his mind. He writes plenty about CRT acolytes too. He also is black, and wrote that “the pervasive racism that black students supposedly encountered at every turn on campus and in town was not apparent to me during the four years [1965-9] that I taught at Cornell and lived in Ithaca.”

    About the only thing I agree with CRT advocates about is that Justin Welby is part of the problem. They say so because he is white; I say so because he believes this destructive nonsense. Increasingly it is important that the Church of England faithful throttle the supply of donations to the hierarchy.

    • Anton

      Ithaca is in New York which ended segregation in the 1950s, however other parts of the US continued to practice segregation and also to find ways to stop Black people from voting until the Civil rights act in 1964.

      My experience moving to the US 5 years ago is that racism is still much more tolerated and overt here than it is in England.

  3. Whilst not wanting to get too bogged down with the elusive nature of CRT, I think the following points need making about the widely held ‘orthodox’ understanding of race in our society.
    1. It is ‘Marxist’ in the sense that it sees power relations as being determinative for the experience of ethnic minorities (‘external’ factors), with correspondingly little emphasis given to the importance of different cultures (‘internal’ factors).
    2. Thus we have the unstated but widespread and yet nonsensical assumption that ‘the differences between different cultures don’t make any difference’.
    3. Therefore on the above view differences of outcome – which are manifest in our society – MUST be caused by racism, since no other forces are recognised.
    4. Therefore vague and ill-defined ‘institutional racism’ is wheeled in as an explanation. Though, if closely identified it can be a real factor.
    5. Therefore \orthodox’ or CRT advocates simply ignore the evidence for the many positive outcomes for minorities in our society – politically, educationally, economically, culturally, and hunker down on increasingly arcane solutions such as ‘deconstructing whiteness’.
    6.For all that racism does still manifest itself (a sin) in various ways in our society.
    In my blog ‘Out of Many, One People’ I discuss all this at greater length.

    • I don’t think CRT really applies in England. It’s important in the US because so much of the infrastructure and institutions date from the segregation era or before. English speaking Christianity is becoming so dominated by American evangelicalism (not a good thing since most of them dont actually believe in Jesus!) that American issues are being incorporated into English churches even when they don’t really fit. I can think of several other examples of this.

      I, like most of the people here, have only ever lived in a white majority society as part of the white majority. I know that it can get very difficult to see discrimination if you’re not part of the group being discriminated against.

      I dislike this need to denounce everything as Marxist. If you disagree with it, just disagree with it. I think we need to be especially careful with labeling activities which aim for racial justice as “Marxist” since this is how the segregationalists denounced the original civil rights movement.

      • Marxist things need to be denounced as Marxist. Other evils are available.

        For the best brief analysis I know of ‘Critical Race Theory’ and for its genesis in Cultural Marxism as well as very poor rhetorical literary studies (it is hardly sociological), see Edward Feser’s excellent little book

        ‘All One In Christ: A Catholic Critique of Racism and Critical Race Theory’

        which includes an historical account of the Catholic Church’s teaching on slavery.

        I agree with Anton’s statement that the British are amongst the least racist people in the world, remarkably so given that multi-ethnicism is a very recent and immigration-created phenomenon.

        • I do not think that I, as a white British man, are in a position to claim that the British are among the least racist in the world. Those qualified to make that kind of judgement of us, are outsiders. Jon, who has commented above, has relayed the experience in this country of his wife and family. I also listen to John Root’s testimony, given his experience of ministry in North London.

          I read recently of a newly-qualified young, black barrister arriving a court for a case. A court official, seeing a young black man in a suit, assumed he was a defendant.

          I ponder the difference in attitude which the people and institutions here have towards those fleeing conflict in:
          – Ukraine
          – Syria
          – places in Africa

          • David,

            You need to broaden your social circle.

            If you spend some time with white working class men you will learn the meaning of disadvantage and social exclusion on the grounds of race and gender.

            Such men are the largest disadvantaged group in our society by a country mile.

          • I suspect that racism grew in England following Windrush largely because black people were seen as competitors for jobs that had previously gone to white people, rather than antipathy to Caribbean culture per se. If it is growing today it is because of historically unprecedented rates of coloured immigration promoted by the Blair administration, and even so the antipathy is mainly against cultures that refuse to integrate rather than skin colour.

            The view that the English were always racist is false. The ‘Battle of Bamber Bridge’ in 1943 was a standoff beteeen black American troops billeted here, in conjunction with locals supportive of them, against their own racist commanders and Military Police. From the Battle’s Wikipedia page:

            the people of Bamber Bridge supported the black troops, and when US commanders demanded a colour bar in the town, all three pubs in the town reportedly posted “Black Troops Only” signs.

            In the Victorian era, the magnificent Frederick Douglass, an emancipated US former slave, made a speech in London in 1847 which included these words:

            I have travelled in all parts of the country: in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. I have journeyed upon highways, byways, railways, and steamboats… In none of these various conveyances, or in any class of society, have I found any curled lip of scorn, or an expression that I could torture into a word of disrespect of me on account of my complexion; not one… Being in London, I of course felt desirous of seizing upon every opportunity of testing the custom at all such places here, by going and presenting myself for admission as a man. From none of them was I ever ejected. I passed through them all; your colosseums, museums, galleries of painting, even into your House of Commons; and, still more, a nobleman— …I believe his name was the Marquis of Lansdowne—permitted me to go into the House of Lords… In none of these places did I receive one word of opposition against my entrance.


          • Peter

            I think it’s true that there’s real hardship for many white working class men, but not *because* they are white.

            Fixing racism doesn’t mean that we should ignore the rise of poverty, but the rise of poverty doesn’t mean we should ignore racism either.

            The two are much more profoundly linked in the US because generational poverty has been deliberate government policy for Black people in the US, which I don’t think it has been in the UK

          • Peter,

            That is nothing more than a general Ad Hominem attempting to silence analysis with which you disagree.

          • Peter Jermey,
            I don’t know what you have read or written. If you have read Adorno, Horkheimer et al, then the meaning of Cultural Marxism will be fairly clear: the transposition of the old economic Marxist idea of class oppression and class warfare into broader human cultural and ‘identity’ characteristics of race, religion, sex and sexuality, with older white Christian heterosexual men being the villains and younger, black/brown inmigrants, Muslim and Hindu women and lesbians the resisting victims. Critical Race Theory tweaks these ideas in a particular narrative which claims that the failure of black people to achieve economic and social parity with middle class whites in the west is due to systematic discrimination and aggression by white people, much of it subconscious and unacknowledged. The alleged oppression is found everywhere, even in the teaching of mathematics – isn’t that your field?
            You can find an analysis of these ideas in Feser’s book ‘All One In Christ’.
            If you don’t want to read the book (it’s only 140 pages and has a specific chapter on CRT), see the summary on Amazon.

          • James

            I’m actually reading a history of the gay rights movement in the US right now. I’m up to about 1969 and so far there’s no mention of Marxism. The nearest I’ve got is that some of the key figures also protested the Vietnam War, but had to hide their orientation as the movement against the war was mostly anti gay.

            The people in the book I’m reading weren’t motivated by Marxism, but by wanting to be allowed to live their lives – they wanted fair access to the job market, to be allowed to drink in bars (it was illegal for bars to sell alcohol to homosexuals) and for the cops to stop beating them up and arresting them on trumped up charges. That’s Marxism that’s fighting for equality under the law- a key plank of western democracy

          • Peter J
            I didn’t say that every social movement of our times was Marxist in inspiration – that would be absurd. The movement to secure civil rights for black Americans was primarily religious in motivation, though it had radical Marxist support as well.
            Old style Marxists, as in the Soviet Union and China, had little time for the homosexual movement, in fact they considered it “western decadence” – a bit like the Iranians today, I imagine.
            But the Cultural Marxist movement only kicked off in the 1970s in the university common rooms – the provenance of most radical movements in the west, like feminism, and it was there that the theoretical foundations were worked out, drawing on Foucault on sexuality, along with radical feminists. The racial theorists joined the bandwagon later.

          • Peter

            Is it? I wasn’t directing it at anyone and it wasn’t (intended) as an insult. Maybe you can explain what the difference is between “cultural Marxism” and racial equality?

          • Peter J, it is possible to have racial equality in a society that is not Marxist in any way. Ancient Rome came close; it gave full Roman citizenship to persons throughout its empire who had never seen the city, for instance, such as the apostle Paul.

        • I just think you end up doing mental gymnastics to make things Marxist that don’t really have anything to do with Marxism for no real purpose and use this wierd term “cultural Marxism” which just means not being a racist. If you don’t like something then oppose it on its own merit

          Having been to the UK a few times with my non British husband, I cannot agree that British people are less racist than other nations. I think it’s just hard to see when you’re in the midst of the culture. I think the UK has less anti Black racism than the US. I’d agree with that.

          • Peter,

            No mental gymnastics are involved.

            What is involved is a rudimentary understanding of history.

            The Frankfurt School is the place to start if you are genuinely interested in the Marxist origins of CRT

          • Peter

            Until 1964 it was legal for states to de facto ban Black people from voting in elections.

            Until 1954 it was legal for states to keep the better schools for white kids and to send black children to schools with less funding, but it wasn’t until the late 60s that this practice was ceased even though it was illegal

            Even today life expectancy is 7 years lower for Black Americans than for white Americans.

            None of this has anything to do with the Frankfurt school. Things improve because Black people have protested, campaigned and taken up legal cases to fight to move the US towards racial equality, not because they read Marx, but to correct obvious injustice and suffering

          • Peter J, if you use univariate analysis as you do in your comment, it has everything to do with the Frankfurt School.

            You need to do multivariate analysis. Suppose that some black subcultures (who is included btw? Hispanic? Black African? Caribbean? mixed race? Asian? Irish?) have lower life expectancy. Suppose that some of those have a culture where fathers are absent and correlatedly drug use is higher? Suppose they share that with some white subcultures with absent fathers?

            You have to look at all the factors, and not just a binary of ethnicity.

  4. There was an extended and relatively unpleasant discussion on a prior thread on this site around the issue of the tendentious assertions by the Church of England that reparations are due as a response to racial grievances . (In the event, those claims have now been shown to rest on pseudo historical analysis – but that is another story).

    At the centre of the argument what a quite transparent CRT ideological stance adopted by one particular individual.

    What was striking was the fact that when this was pointed out, it was treated as a calumny against the individual concerned to call out their CRT ideological stance !

    CRT is at the heart of racial grievance politics. We do ourselves no favours by pretending otherwise and we cannot be manipulated and bullied into accepting that calling it out is unacceptable.

  5. Reading Tom Holland’s “Dominion” teaches me that actually the deep roots of both classical Marxism and CRT are in Christian, and before it, Hebrew thought. The weak have value, and so the oppression of the weak is an injustice. Also rooted in Christian thought is the idea of radical change.

    One source of Marxism was such obervations as Engels’ “The Condition of the Working Class of England.” This oppression in the ‘Christian’ country of England was real. The seed-bed for CRT is the deeply-seated racism in the USA. Again, this is endemic in a ‘Christian’ country. One of the most segregated places in the USA has been in the church. One does not need to read very much of the Bible to learn that God is on the side of the oppressed and condemns injustice.

    Where Marxism and CRT fail is in the prescription for dealing with the injustice. Marxism failed in its original form. Protelarian revolution has not taken place in the more advanced industrialised countries. Russia was the least advanced of the European countries in 1917. China was a largely peasant economy in the 1940’s. It is perhaps not surprising that Communism took hold in these places as the result of the effects of world wars and not the inevitable march of economic history.

    I don’t enough about CRT to be able to predict how this will prove to be falacious. However, as John Root says above, the key idea in both is power. Who has the power? The prescription for both is a radical change in who has the power. But that is no solution. The real problem is the power itself.

    I would suggest that some of the objection to CRT comes from those who see themselves losing power and position.

    • According to Robert Tombs in his major 2014 work “The English and their history”, Engels

      seized on slums in Manchester as ‘the classic type of a modern manufacturing town – although they were neither modern nor linked to manufacturing. He denounced as the ‘degradation’ of the new industrial ‘proletariat’ what was in fact the plight of a non-industrial, unskilled underclass, many of them newly arrived Irish immigrants, who had no connection with factory work. Such slums in London, Liverpool and Manchester illustrated not industrialization but the problems of rapid urbanization without manufacturing industry – what England’s booming population might have suffered had it *not* been for the Industrial Revolution, and which was being suffered in the ancient teeming cities of eastern and southern Europe, from Palermo to Moscow. In contrast to Engels’ pessimism, an 1860s survey found 95% of houses in Hull and 72% in Manxchester to be ‘comfortable’.

      The early Industrial Revolution was indeed a hard time for the people of England, but that was not least because of high taxes needed to keep Emperor Bonaparte from annexing England to his French empire.

  6. David,

    I am afraid your thinking is being shaped by Foucault, not the writers of the New Testament.

    Foucault despised Christianity, so be careful how much of his thinking you inadvertently swallow

  7. We call for the Church of England to apologise publicly for denying that Black Africans are made in the image of God and for seeking to destroy diverse African traditional religious belief systems. This act of repair should intentionally facilitate ongoing and new sociological, historical and theological research into spiritual traditions in Africa and the diaspora, thereby enabling a fresh dialogue between African traditional belief systems and the Gospel.

    This is so muddle-headed from the Oversight group within the Church of England looking at Quuen Anne’s Bounty. If the Church of England ever denied that black Africans were in the image of God then it should certainly check whether apologies and reversals have already been made and at what level. As for it “seeking to destroy diverse African traditional religious belief systems”, the all-important question is whether it aimed to wipe out witchcraft (to call it by its name) by converting its adherents, or by coercive means. I strongly approve of its eradication by the former means, but believe the church should never use coercion.

    • The statement you quoted was so outrageously fallacious it should have disqualified the whole grifting project. What makes it worse is the second sentence which means:
      ‘We want the Church of England to fund jobs for third rate scholars from Africa to write books about African Traditional Religions – and witchcraft.’
      One of these grifters, based in Cambridge and the proud descendant of a west African king who kept slaves, appeared on youtube with Ian Paul.
      This demand is akin to the practice in Communist China and other totalitarian states of making the families of the people they executed pay for the bullets.

    • Anton

      The CofE also has a history of repeated apologies, but then continuing to do the things they apologize for. This is not repentance, but I think clear action is better than just words

    • As far as I can tell, because their key argument against slavery is that all are made in the image of God, they assume that anyone who didn’t argue (or didn’t argue sufficiently) against slavery must have denied that all are made in the image of God.

      It’s nonsense.

      As I’ve said elsewhere before, if we really want to think about the merits of a dialogue between African traditional belief systems and the Gospel (and I’m far from convinced we do), we ought to first talk to the Council of Anglican Churches in Africa who no doubt know quite a bit about it.

  8. Well, I’d say that this is not the sphere that ‘The Church’ should be dealing with. If ‘The Church’ is Christian, then it is supposed to be teaching me that I, personally, am a sinner, who stands in need of God’s grace, that I need to repent, teaching me to trust in Him, that repentance to remission of sins (my sins) comes through believing in Him.

    Through belief in Him – and the consequent regeneration of our hearts and minds by the Spirit, we then have the correct mind-set to think about social and political issues. I know very little about Marxism – except that I like the ‘from each according to his means to each according to his needs’ mantra – and also that he wasn’t a Christian (religion the opiate of the masses). The wiki link to Critical Theory states ‘With roots in sociology and literary criticism, it argues that social problems stem more from social structures and cultural assumptions rather than from individuals.’

    This may well be a shrewd starting point for social and political issues, since the gospels inform us that Christians will only ever be the ‘salt of the earth’, implying that there won’t really be very many of us. Christian teaching tells us how to live for Christ in a world around us that is essentially pagan.

    So I basically see Christianity and Critical Theory (including Critical Race Theory – whatever that is – the quote from Delago and Stefancic looks like generalised abstract nonsense which tells me nothing) as essentially different spheres. The first (Christianity) tells me about my own sinful nature and repentance of my own personal sins to remission of my own personal sins through Christ – and how that consequently builds a mind-set for interacting with the world around me. Critical Theory is all about trying to change the world around me – and change society. It looks like two different spheres.

  9. Peter Jeremy,

    You appear unaware of the fact that there is a world outside of America.

    Your comments above regarding American racial conflict do not define intellectual thought and morality for the rest of humanity.

      • Peter.

        The topic for this thread is the connection between CRT and Marxism.

        You entered the discussion with a general dismissal of that connection on the grounds of various remarks you made about America.

        I can only repeat the point. If you want to comment on the actual topic of the thread you will need to engage with the fact there is a world beyond America

  10. Sorry for not responding at all to comments. I really didn’t want to say too much, or get into a shouting match with the usual suspects. Plus it’s been a busy weekend at church, and I’ve had a coffee related incident with my laptop keyboard (probably an expensive one!) I’d like to sign off with a few comments not aimed at any one person.
    (1) Yes, there is a big difference between the USA and here. However, we are far from immune to the USA’s thinking and influence and are quite happy to quote them – as is often shown by the comments here.
    (2) Yes, we’ve come a long way racially in the UK. But as John Root sagely comments, there is still plenty of racism about. Do we really get prizes for being less racist than other places? That strikes me as a typical white reaction requiring lots of inaction.
    (3) Yes, there are class issues in the UK, but you try being working class AND black.
    (4) There seem to be plenty of comments on the CRT-Marxism links. I’m no expert here (perhaps something to add to my reading list), but they seem very selective, and not in line with what many black US Christians would say.
    (5) My own reading recommendation would be John Stackhouse’s ‘Woke’. A little book, shorter than a lot of the comment threads on Ian’s blog, but remarkably even handed about things (including woke-ness and CRT.)
    Blessings all, Jon

    • Jon,

      It is simply a matter of empirical fact that the largest most socially disadvantaged group in the UK are white working class men and boys. No other group is at greater disadvantage in regard to their life prospects.

      The data on this is overwhelming and can be found within moments by any genuine enquirer.

      CRT is an ideology without connection to the facts.

        • Bruce,

          What a bizzare comment !

          Jon’s comment point 3 states “yes, there are class issues in the UK, but you try being working class and black”

          Jon clearly does not know the facts. Being work class and white and male is the worst of all possible conditions.

          All I have done is encourage Jon to deal in reality – not myth such as that which he stated in his comment

          • Peter, which part of
            “Speaking as a very white, middle-class, English man, but married to a black Jamaican for 46 years and with three children making their way in the world…..” [Jon, May 3 1.55pm]
            do you consider to be myth?

    • Jon,
      If immigration to the UK had been overwhelmingly of well-educated professionals in STEM and business people, you would have heard nothing about it. Who gives a moment’s thought to Chinese accountants and Indian pharmacists? The educated middle classes generally live quiet and prosperous lives and pass on these aspirations to their children. They are under-represented in the prison population, and you do not hear of their children being involved in knife crime, grooming gangs or drug dealing. The racial tensions and conflicts in the UK really turn on three issues:
      1. the disproportionately high level of criminality among ethnic minority males;
      2. the very high level of family breakdown among Caribbean families;
      3. the importation of working class Pakistani Muslim culture into English cities.
      These things were imposed upon the white English working class without their consent through immigration. (Why else do you think Gaza became an issue in English local elections?)
      As I said, if immigration had been of STEM professionals instead of mass immigration of unskilled persons, a very different world would have arisen. This was a wound imposed on the white working class by the nation’s political elites.

          • Bruce,

            If you disagree with James you need to engage with the issue and leave out the Ad Hominem

            Calling for apologies is no substitute for actual analysis or sensible comment

        • I agree that James is to some extent talking past Jon, but James does not need anybody’s permission (except the blog owner’s, and he has not objected) to widen the subject. This is not a private conversation between Jon and James but a public forum.

      • Some differences, but I doubt it would be a racism-free world. The Jewish population of Britain live quiet and prosperous lives, and we don’t hear much about Jewish knife crime, grooming gangs, or drug dealing. And yet Jewish schools, synagogues, and community buildings face serious security threats, have to organise with the Community Security Trust, and last November 50,000 people felt the need to march in central London against anti-semitism.

    • Actually I think we’ve regressed in the UK from the attitude of the Victorians and the WW2 generation – please see my quotes from Frederick Douglass above and the Wikipedia article about the ‘Battle of Bamber Bridge’. (The Victorians obviously believed they had a superior culture, but they did not ascribe it to race; only vile eugenicists did that.) We are now unfortunately rather more racist than hitherto. I doubt that you could give a good argument for this being due to Covid or reduced government spending; I blame immigration at a rate that makes whites feel that their own culture is endangered, and for that I blame governments. No I am not seeking prizes for Brits being less racist than most, but in tackling social evils there is a question of priority. Kemi Badenoch has been in receipt of a report demonstrating that poverty in the black community is tied to family breakdown to exactly the same extent as among white people. (Among the evidence is the difference between Africans and Caribbeans within the black community.) The top priority today is to strengthen the family, but government is not committed to that and the country continues its downward spiral, to the detriment of us all.

      I hope that no electronics beneath your laptop keyboard is damaged. Small computer shops abound today that can order and install a replacement keyboard. I recommend putting your laptop on a support some 8 inches high, at eye level (I use an upturned wine crate) and using a proper keyboard attached to it via USB; this is better for typing, for posture and for ease of replacement when you send your coffee flying.

      • The nations of Europe (as well as the US and Canada) are today racially and ethnically diverse to an extent that never existed in the past. This experiment is very recent in historical terms and was created by mass immigration. By contrast, the nations of Africa and Asia are much more “racially” uniform, but the fault lines there are tribal, social and religious, and more inclined to break out in violence. (And it is obvious to anyone who glances at the statistics that South Africa and the nations of the West Indies have very high levels of violent crime, entirely different from, say, Japan or Malaysia.)
        As I have suggested, the problems are not primarily ‘racial’ but economic and cultural, and as others have noted, the most precarious position in modern British life is that of the white working class male – a demographic without any advocates among the “good and great”.

  11. To bring the matter back to the subject of CRT;

    At the centre of CRT is the insistence on the superiority of “lived experience”

    For example, the claim that only those who are descended (or may be descended) from African slaves can perceive and declare the moral truths relating to slavery in a text book example and of CRT ideology .

    It is a direct intellectual descendant of Marxism as a totalitarian belief system which casts some people as morally superior to others on grounds that have no basis in reality.

    • In that case all historians had better give up, because they supposedly cannot know how it wa to live in past times. I repeat that CRT is pernicious drivel. It is possible to deplore racism and deplore CRT. I do.

  12. Bruce,

    Ref your comment of 2. 18 am above, you need to read what I said.

    It is clearly written in black and white what I am referring to as myth

    Jon is propagating myth with the idea that it is more difficult to be black and working class than to be white and working class.

    The evidence is overwhelming. Nothing is more difficult than being white, male and working class

  13. It is exhausting but we must rebut the propaganda that is produced by CRT

    The truth is that:

    Race is not the defining feature of systematic social disadvantage in the UK.

    The attempt to create a discussion around reparations is based on pseudo history and not fact.

    The assertion that the real problem with reparations is all they do is placate “white guilt” is just a convoluted attempt to insist white guilt is a real thing. It is not a real moral category. It is an exercise in manipulation.

    Calling out CRT when we see it is necessary. We cannot allow ourselves to be bullied out of saying so by CRT champions.

    • CRT doesn’t really make any sense when applied to the UK.

      I suppose you can make the argument that many of our institutions were set up when the nation was almost totally white and that now negatively impacts non white people, but (happy to be corrected) there doesn’t seem to me to be a time in the last century when UK government was specifically designed to suppress the non white population

      • Peter,

        I am genuinely baffled by a question you put to me above as what is the difference between cultural Marxism and racial equality.

        I can only assume you are the victim of what is an all too common feature of western education in the last thirty years.

        Most people under the age of fifty seem to have absolutely no idea what Marxism unleashed.

        I would advise you to read the works of Solzhenitsyn

          • “Stalinism has nothing to do with Karl Marx”

            If that is the extent of your appreciation of political history I can do nothing to help you further.

          • Stalinism is not a political theory. Stalin never wrote any piece of political theory. It is merely State gangsterism.

            Lenin in contrast did write political theory. I profoundly disagree with it, but he did write.

  14. There is something very important going on here – and bringing ‘Marxism’ into the equation does nothing to clarify this. The important issue is that there are people who imagine themselves to be fine Christians – and who do not acknowledge their own sinfulness – they do not consider the crucifixion and resurrection as necessary for dealing with the radical evil within themselves.

    I first began to understand this properly on reading Moltmann’s ‘The Crucified God’. He points out that the response to ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord’ is an oppressed people saying, ‘Yes, we were there participating in his suffering and shame’. Moltmann points out that in this response there is absolutely nothing of the believer acknowledging his / her own sinfulness as the thing that Christ is dealing with in the crucifixion and resurrection.

    Some posting here argue quite well that ‘Critical Race Theory’ gives a good coherent explanation of some of the main societal problems in the USA – and they may (or may not) be right about this. From a societal point of view they may be correct; there may well be huge swathes of society where people are the poor innocent victims of structures that are loaded against them – and social reformers would do well to investigate this.

    That, however is not what Christianity is supposed to deal with. The gospel message brings people to an understanding of the radical evil *within themselves*, brings them to a position where, having understood this, they want to repent of their sins and where they come to trust in Him for deliverance from their own personal sin.

    So there is clearly a very serious problem if CRT in any way reinforces the anti-Christian tendency pointed to by Moltmann.

    • Jock,

      The thread topic is the question “is Critical Race Theory Marxist”.

      It is rather difficult to see how that topic can be discussed without bringing Marxism into it.

      I wonder if problem might be that you do not know much about Marxism ?

      That is true of lots of people, but the solution would be to learn something about the topic first and then comment on it.

      • Peter – Read the piece. It doesn’t really have much to do with anything that Marx wrote. The problem is that there is a disconnect between the title and what the piece is really about – which is a (valid) criticism of the c .of.e. position (while missing the main theological issues). You missed that because you are not thinking theologically.

        • Jock,

          The article is a perfectly respectable short-form analysis of the issue of CRT and Marxism. (Ian Paul does not publish junk on this site).

          You are attempting to shoehorn your own somewhat confused thinking into what is a separate form of discourse.

          • Peter – I’m attempting to bring a Christian perspective – and I’m not surprised you find it ‘confused’, since we are told that the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.

            AJ Bell also brings this perspective (see below), in a better way than I did, except that while he implies the punch-line, he doesn’t explicitly state it – which is that Critical Theory (including CRT) is contrary to the basic message of The Cross.

  15. The problem with Critical Race Theory, isn’t the “Race” part, but the “Critical Theory”. Race is just one application amongst many, and they all suffer from the same problems. Critical Theory has a tendency to use conclusions as assumptions, and struggles to engage (ironically enough) in critical discussion which weighs evidence and interrogates arguments.

    The biggest problems with Critical Theory are that in believing the central question is how power structures create social problems it (1) obscures individual responsibility for individual actions; (2) creates a collective guilt irrespective of individual actions; and (3) by focussing on wanting to dismantle what it ordains as problematic social structures omits to propose any better social structures in their place thereby leaving people with the ‘freedom’ and ‘liberation’ of anarchy in the desert.

    This stands in stark contrast to Christian theology which places huge responsibility on the individual for how they act, even though they live in a broken world. Hence St Paul is at pains to remind us that we have a citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3) – not to say that’s where we heading, but that this is what ought to dictate our actions. Nor is Christian theology (nor Jewish for that matter) at ease with ideas of collective responsibility: the son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father (Ezekiel 18). And far from finding liberation in the dismantling of relationships, Christian theology posits that it is the perfection of relationships that matters: our relationship with God, united with Christ in everlasting life, and our relationship with each other as the body of his Church.

    • AJ Bell – Thank you for expressing what I tried to express earlier – I think I’m in complete agreement with this; Christian theology places responsibility on the individual. I have to acknowledge my own sinnerhood – in The Cross I see Jesus doing something for me that I could never do for myself.

      At the same time, there have been – and still are – major institutional problems. I’ll give one example. A friend of mine from Northern Ireland (born 1946) told me that his mother (Plymouth Brethern) succeeded in getting a job as a primary school teacher in Northern Ireland in the 1950’s, but was very quickly sacked after they discovered that she was not affiliated to the Anglicans or Presbyterians, but belonged to the Plymouth Brethern instead. As a result of these institutional problems, his father (staunch Brethern) always voted Sinn Feinn in elections (quite reasonably and understandably under the circumstances).

      While things have (I hope) improved enormously since the 1950’s, I do think that our politicians should be watching like hawks to eradicate institutional discrimination.

      So while I’m in complete agreement with you about Christian theology and the role of the church, I do see that serious problems with institutional discrimination can (and do) arise and it is the job of our politicians to look out for this and do something about it.

      • You’d have thought he might have gone for the SDLP, but I suppose the Plymouth Brethren never do anything by halves.

        Institutional racism seems to have two meanings. One is that you’re talking about an organisation’s policies or behaviours that are completely pervasive that they might as well be; and the other is that you’re talking about a structural point that can’t be reformed away and/or simply observing a disparity without a clear individual explanation.

  16. Jock,

    You tell me that you are not surprised I am confused because the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.

    My friend, you need to think about what you are saying to people. You have no evidence on which to base the assertion I am perishing – other than the fact I do not take your intellectual pretensions seriously.

    For your own spiritual sake, you need to choose your words more carefully.

  17. Anton,

    Stalin was a true communist believer. He was also brutal, ruthless and murderous.

    He was still a communist. We don’t help ourselves by simplifying history into shorthand.

    He did not write books, but then he had no need to. The doctrine was there already

  18. Peter wrote:
    “He was still a communist. We don’t help ourselves by simplifying history into shorthand.”

    • Bruce,

      You are taking what I said entirely out of context – for no other purpose that to make what you obviously think is a clever comment.

  19. Bruce doesn’t do arguments, just an emotive “wow” or “umm” instead of engaging with ideas he is not familiar with.
    Jock does not grasp that Critical Race Theory is indeed the historical descendant of Marxist ideology, as the article outlined. Marxism is not just a theory of economic conflict but in fact a philosophy about the nature of being human. Gramsci and the Frankfurt school extended Marxism into education, sociology, psychology and culture, and CRT is the most recent manifestation of this, along with Green politics.
    A Marxist understanding of history and psychology is also present in some ways in Jùrgen Moltmann’s work.

    • James – if you could elaborate on Moltmann it would be good. I find something seriously disturbing about his approach – as I indicated – which seems strongly connected to CRT.

      • Too many things (good and bad) to say about Moltmann, I wouldn’t want to generalise. You can find an assessment of his ideas in Bauckham’s ‘Messianic Theology in the Making’ or in John Frame of RTS Orlando on youtube – ‘Liberal Theology: Jurgen Moltmann John Frame’. Moltmann’s initial indebtedness was to the Marxist Ernst Bloch.

        • I would add that liberal theology is often easy for an evangelical to misunderstand as the writers typically use traditional language but mean something quite different by it. You have to dig below to understand. An Anglo-Catholic theologian, for example, told me that Moltmann was a tritheist and he could well be right. Moltmann’s ‘social trinity’ model is not Nicene.

          • James – yes – I agree (from the little I have read) that he uses traditional language – and then means something quite different by it. I found some of the things he wrote really incisive and useful – but all of a sudden, in once sentence, it became clear that the believer’s personal sinfulness and how this was dealt with in The Cross was not central – and could even be dispensed with, which mean a serious re-evaluation (downwards). He has to be treated with extreme caution.

          • …. and before anyone objects, a discussion of Moltmann in this context is very relevant to this thread, since the problems with Moltmann’s theology seem quite close to the objections to CRT.

  20. David Shepherd

    You accuse me in a comment above of engaging in gaslighting. That is obviously an offensive and personal attack on me.

    You have shown previously that the instant you think you are being subject to personal attack you demand an apology. If you are a person of integrity you will apply the same standard to yourself.

    You will therefore withdraw the attack on me and provide me with an apology

    Or is it one rule for you and a different rule for everybody else ?

      • Where is the rhetoric here, Ian ?

        This is a thread on the topic of CRT. David entered the discussion and then takes offence when his own CRT technique is referenced !

        The topic article specifically references the privileging of lived experience as a CRT. David specifically references lived experience in his comment.

        It is Orwellian to then insist that no such thing has happened.

  21. David Shepherd’s reply to me (May 4 at 12.48 pm) is buried far above in the comments so I will answer here:
    1. You have NO idea at all how many Nigerian immigrants to Britain are Christian, Muslim, Pentecostal, Anglican, other Protestant, Catholic or no religion – none at all. The statistics just don’t exist. And I doubt if you know much about the strength of Pentecostalism in Nigeria. You claimed:
    “In fact, there are thousands upon thousands of GMH Anglicans from overseas who (like their Windrush forbears) only end up joining black-led/black-majority churches because they can no longer endure the subtler modern form of the overt racist rejection that the CofE doled out to the Windrush generation in the 60s.”
    Where is your evidence for this claim? Non-existent. A baseless assumption – and a slur. Immigration actually disrupts settled ties and senses of identity (including religion), casting the migrant into a new and uncertain world.
    2. Black-led churches were certainly established among Caribbean immigrants in Britain in the 1960s (just as large Pentecostal churches have been founded by Nigerians in Britain). But notice that these were *Pentecostal churches. Why were Caribbeans in Britain attracted to Pentecostalism? Did they find Anglicanism boring and restrained – like English people? Did they not also go to Pentecostal churches in the Caribbean? And what is wrong with wanting your own people to be your spiritual leaders? (Schools in the UK desperately try to find black male teachers, for obvious reasons.) I think of a largish Caribbean church I know of in Lambeth which promotes links between British-born West Indians and their relatives in the West Indies. But I imagine this is changing as the West Indies increasingly looks more to the US than the UK.
    3. The difference between Catholics and Protestants, of course, is that Catholics are hierarchical, clergy-led and ‘the mass is the mass’, whereas if a Protestant disagrees with the hierarchy or the preaching or the worship, he or she can set up their own church. That’s why there are so many Protestant churches, and Caribbeans and Africans are no different in this respect.
    4. You seriously misunderstood my point about immigrants seeking to recreate something of their homeland in their new land. Everyone does this as a way of coping with the stress of migration. The problem begins to hit the rising generation which can feel caught between two worlds.
    David, you need to think in more useful terms than ‘racism’ to understand the present scene. People are more complex than that.

    • Here is an example of the kind of nonsense propagated by scattergun accusations of ‘racism’, as seen above, in a website called ‘’ on why there are very few black male teachers in the UK:
      “The reasons behind this underrepresentation are complex and multifaceted. It stems from a combination of historical, systemic, and socio-economic factors that discourage or bar Black men from entering or remaining in the teaching profession. These include, but are not limited to, discriminatory hiring practices, a lack of promotional opportunities, and a broader societal undervaluation of teachers, especially those from minority backgrounds.”
      This is complete bilge – anyone in teaching knows it is completely untrue. The real truth is much more difficult to confront, so it is more comforting to resile into racism tropes.

  22. Jock.

    Moltmann is a liberal. Trust me, Marx was not a liberal.

    You are going down a rabbit hole with the notion that CRT and liberal theorists are swimming in the same water.

    You are actually relatively clear in your thinking around sin and grace – which to be honest is all that really matters in the end.

      • Marxism and CRT are revolutionary movements committed to the disruption and destruction of an existing social order.

        A liberal arts student on an American campus this afternoon would be well placed to witness the distinction between revolutionary and liberal theorists

      • …. and in this sense there might also be a resemblance to Christianity (although not a family resemblance); in Luke 3:11, Jesus is basically saying ‘develop a social conscience’. They (Moltmann and the Liberals, also the Marxists) are coming at it from a standpoint that is fundamentally anti-Christian – although the insistence on a social conscience is admirable.

        • Marxists are certainly anti Christian.

          Classical liberals and Moltmann are not anti Christian and you should not defame them in such terms.

          • Peter – well, in The Cross I see my own sin being dealt with and I see the forgiveness of my own sin. This is the heart of Christianity and the same applies to all who are in the number of the Saviour’s family. Any other understanding of The Cross (and in particular the one that Moltmann gave – I referred to it earlier) is anti-Christian – and I disagree with you here – we are required to call a spade a spade.

            Nevertheless, I do worry when I see more of a social conscience (which should be central to the heart and mind of someone who has come to faith and been transformed by the Holy Spirit) in those who fall under the umbrellas of `Classical Liberals’ and `Marxists’ than Christians.

  23. Jock,

    It is clear that you understand the Gospel in relation to your own personal need for grace.

    That is no small thing to have grasped and is the solid ground on which you can safely stand.

  24. Side note: I’m always slightly wary of invoking the Marxist boogeyman, as if to say if you can show Marxist roots you can demonstrate it’s all wrong. Perhaps it’s being an economist, but I think it’s useful to remember that “Marxism” means a variety of different things in it’s different fields. In economics we deal with this by preferring to refer to “Marxian” economics rather than “Marxist” because the debate is about whether you hold to a labour theory of value or marginal theory of value and so on, rather than whether you’re intending to overthrow society.


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