Dr. Josh Mulvihill
A philosophy called equity has become a dominant ideology in public education and is beginning to make inroads in some churches and Christian schools. Due to its recent explosion and significant impact on education, Christians need to understand what equity is and how to respond. The Bible calls believers to test everything and hold fast to what is good, so this article will examine some of the central tenants of equity according to Scripture (1 Thess. 5:21).
What Is Equity?
Equity is a term used to address fairness in education. It is an educational approach that views students academically through the lens of skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and religion. There are many variations, but a common definition in public education is: “Equity means a student’s identity—their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, immigration status, religion and/or disability—does not predict their success. All students are provided the tools, resources, and support they need to achieve their personal best.”
The underlying belief of those advocating for equity is that the current state of public education is advantageous for white, heterosexual, and Christian students and is systemically unfair for minority races, transgender, homosexual, and Islamic students. Therefore, systemic changes must occur to level the playing field for all students.
What Does the Bible Say about Equity?
Equity is a form of justice. To understand equity, we must understand biblical justice. Psalm 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.” God wants both righteousness and justice. Righteousness is the moral standard of right and wrong to which God holds humans accountable based on His divine standard. Justice is the fair and impartial application of God’s moral law in society.
The Hebrew word for equity means “straight” or “level.” The Bible uses the image of scales that are level and straight to communicate the idea of justice both in the sense of fairness (a level playing field) and uprightness (a straight standard). God deals with us fairly and according to a standard. God instructs us to deal with each other in the same way, without favoritism or partiality. Applied to education, a biblical view of equity would mean equal, fair, and impartial treatment for everyone according to God’s law.
Public School Equity Is a Secular View of Morality
Equity sounds good on the surface, but it takes a biblical idea, hollows it out, and redefines it. The version of equity taught in public schools maintains the concept of fairness but redefines what is fair according to human standards rather than God’s law.
The million-dollar question is this: How do we define what is fair or unfair? Public schools determine fairness by comparing students from one group with students from another group—they call this student identity. Consider an example. Suppose one group, such as black students, have a higher rate of behavior problems in a school. In that case, the equitable response is to classify their actions as appropriate for black culture, utilize restorative practices such as a listening session, and ensure that the suspension rate for black children is the same as those of white children. The belief is that when all groups of students have the same outcomes, such as disciplinary action, education will be fair, and children will have what they need to succeed academically. Individual responsibility and personal accountability are replaced with group association.
It is essential to recognize that equity is an ideology that has set aside classic liberal education ideals in favor of a new progressive creed. This creed, often known as “critical race theory,” diminishes individual identity in favor of group identities based on gender, race, sexuality, and religion. It understands identity groups to be in constant conflict with one another and believes justice involves taking power from the oppressor groups and giving it to the oppressed. It holds this to be the key to ushering in the long-awaited educational utopia that will fix all academic problems.
According to the Bible, this is a distorted version of equity. As a result, it is unjust and discriminatory because it is based on a partiality of skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Equity must have a standard of good and bad and right and wrong. The problem is that public schools have no objective foundation for morality. God’s law, the Ten Commandments, was removed from public schools in the 1960s. The void created by removing God’s morality was replaced with a new moral code that teaches a secular view of justice, race, sexuality, and gender. Public schools are not morally neutral, and equity is an example of this reality.
Public schools are indoctrinating children with a secular view of morality using terminology such as equity, white privilege, systemic racism, anti-bias training, cultural responsiveness, and restorative justice. This insidious ideology is permeating all academic subjects: math where children are taught reparations, history where children are taught that America is evil and was founded on greed and slavery, and English where white children are taught implicit bias and micro aggressions.
Public school equity is a moral revolution that demands complete conformity. It appeals to justice and virtue; therefore, it is deceptive. But it embraces and glorifies immoral means of activism through rioting, looting, and arson to achieve what it claims is a moral end. It uses familiar moral language but hollows it out to make the words refer to something very different.
Public School Equity Is Critical Race Theory
The version of equity taught in public schools is critical race theory by a different name. Critical race theory claims that society consists of two groups of people: the oppressed and the oppressors. The dominant people groups are automatically oppressors, and the minority groups are the oppressed. Critical race theory divides everyone by groups and portrays all minorities as victims. Those in majority groups are portrayed as victimizers, racists, sexists, and bigots.
Public school equity, taking its cues from critical race theory, can be summarized by the idea that oppressed groups of students must be liberated from all forms of oppression in education to succeed academically. Therefore, academic achievement gaps, negative student behavior, declining graduation rates, and dropping illiteracy scores result from oppression in school due to fewer educational opportunities for minorities, systemic racism from biased teachers, and white privilege from a color-blind approach. This ideology believes the problem is the system. Critical race theory seeks to dismantle social structures, such as education, and rebuild them according to a new vision.
Critical race theory builds off of decades of multiculturalism, diversity instruction, and affirmative action, which are embedded in teacher training and curriculum. Educational curriculum has transitioned away from academics and into social justice activism. School board members, superintendents, principals, and teachers are now coming out of the closet as full social justice race warriors. “Let your revolution come through your instruction and your education,” said Mauri Friestleben, principal of North Minneapolis High School. We must recognize that public school equity is not about fairness; it is a Trojan horse for a social revolution.
Critical race theory and Christianity are competing worldviews. Critical race theory, and therefore equity, redefines what it means to be human, as well as sin, salvation, and the means to restore a broken world. Critical race theory is based on atheism. If there is no God, then there is no such thing as sin. Sin has been redefined as oppression against humans rather than rebellion against God. Because public school equity gets the problem wrong, it also gets the solution wrong. Salvation has been redefined as activism with the goal of liberation rather than repentance to Christ with the goal of restoring a broken world through gospel transformation.
Public School Equity Is Marxism
Public school equity is rooted in Marxism, using race, sexuality, and gender as its battering ram to tear down our form of government and create a new America. It is anti-America, anti-Christian, anti-capitalism, and an entirely different vision for children’s education that seeks to shape their beliefs and make them social justice activists. Public school equity calls the values and foundational principles that form America’s constitutional republic inherently racist and evil. They are denigrated as “whiteness,” “systemically racist,” and “white privilege.” For example, in Hopkins, Minnesota, Superintendent Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed welcomed teachers and staff back to school by urging them to examine their “whiteness” and recognize that “systemic racism has soiled this country, not just since slavery but since the genocide of the Native Americans.”
Christians must recognize that equity is a biblical concept. We must also recognize that a secular society has redefined justice based on human standards rather than God’s law. Therefore, Christians must emphatically reject the unbiblical and destructive ideology of public school equity. Christians should not seek to imitate equity taught by public schools because by doing so, we are adopting an atheistic, secularized morality based on a distorted version of justice that replaces the gospel of Jesus Christ with a humanistic religious system.
Abraham Lincoln once stated, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation is the philosophy of the government in the next.” If a generation of children is taught the immoral, ungodly values of public school equity today, they will implement these values as voters, business owners, parents, civic leaders, and teachers tomorrow. Christians should be concerned about what children are learning, stand against injustice, and teach our children biblical equity based on God’s law so that our homes, schools, churches, and communities are places of impartiality and righteousness.
Dr. Josh Mulvihill is the Executive Director of Church and Family Ministry at Renewanation. He served as a pastor for nearly 20 years, serves on the board of Awana, and helps to provide leadership to the Christian Grandparent Network. He holds a Ph.D. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of Biblical Grandparenting, Preparing Children for Marriage, and Biblical Worldview. Josh is married to Jen, and they have five children. Connect with Josh on Facebook at Gospel Shaped Family.