A Tale of Two Talks: Profane Talk Condemning Whites Receives Praise at Wheaton College While Godly, Prolife Talk is Condemned

By Julie Roys
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I knew my alma mater, Wheaton College, was drifting left, but this is shocking even to me. In 2017, Wheaton’s philosophy department sponsored a profane, graphic, and racist speech by George Yancy, a philosophy professor at Emory University. In it, Yancy asserted that all white people are racist because they live as the majority in a racist society. He also asserted that given the history of white supremacy in America, black people should be afraid of white people. “If you’re black, you should be scared as hell here at Wheaton College,” he said.
 
Yancy’s talk was laced with expletives, including numerous f-bombs, and essentially equated the most disgusting comments made by white supremacists as being representative of “white America.” 
 
That speech sparked zero organized protest on Wheaton’s campus.
 
In fact, the campus newspaper, The Wheaton Record, published only positive responses to the speech. One student called the speech “eye-opening” and something “everyone should consider.” Wheaton philosophy professor, Adam Wood, said Yancy’s message was one “that we should be open to.”
 
However, as Ryan Scott Bomberger, co-founder and chief creative officer of The Radiance Foundationpoints out, his “expletive-free, fact-based,” prolife talk on Wheaton’s campus last month sparked significant backlash. That’s because Bomberger had the gall to challenge the hypocrisy of the Black Lives Matter movement for its support of groups like Planned Parenthood, which slaughter black babies. He writes:

As an adoptee and adoptive father who was conceived in rape, I challenged students to see the most vulnerable, the most marginalized, and the most powerless among us as having equal intrinsic worth and God-given Purpose.

Six days later, I was severely denounced by a campus-wide email sent out by two Wheaton staff members and signed by three student government leaders. My entire message was branded as “offensive rhetoric” that made “many students, staff and faculty of color” feel “unsafe” on their campus. And now, the school has cancelled the College Republicans’ next event, because leadership claims their speaker approval process needs to change so Wheaton students aren’t exposed to such factivism (aka truth) again.

Bomberger said the response was disappointing, particularly from a Christian school: “It’s one thing to have a different opinion about something but to so clearly demonize me … and then to send it out to the entire school with no other perspectives provided … I was really thrown.”

According to a report in WORLD Magazine, Paul Chelsen, Wheaton’s vice president for student development, defended the college’s decision to allow student leaders to send out the campus-wide email, saying, “we affirm their right and responsibility as elected student leaders to do so.” When asked why Bomberger’s speech triggered a campus-wide email, but Yancy’s didn’t, Chelsen said that in Yancy’s case, faculty members invited him to campus, and were responsible for any follow-up. However, a student group, College Republicans, had invited Bomberger to Wheaton, so student leaders responded.

That explains why the response came from different sources. But it completely fails to explain why a racist, ungodly speech was praised by both Wheaton students and faculty, while a godly, prolife speech was condemned by students and faculty alike, as Wheaton’s administration stood by silently. I contacted Wheaton’s director of media relations, LaTonya Taylor, for an explanation and was told I would have one by 3:00 p.m. today, but at 3:40 still had no answer.

As missionary to South Africa, Seth Meyers, wrote today in an email to the college, “As long as no voice from within Wheaton openly opposes their critique, it will continue to be viewed as the official position of the college.” Meyers added:

Wheaton college has approved of George Yancy’s positions the same way Jehoshaphat approved of king Ahaziah in 2 Chron. 20:35-37. Wheaton subsequently discouraged the work of a black man working on behalf of black babies.

Below is a montage of excerpts from Yancy’s speech that was posted by the Radiance Foundation. It’s painful to listen to, and as you’ll hear, doesn’t lead to reconciliation, but only  bitter and angry conflict. It actually made me cry. I hate racism. But bringing in a profane man who believes the worst about every white person, and gets them to believe the same about themselves, is not the solution.

I’m also posting below Meyers’s entire email with his permission. I encourage other concerned friends of Wheaton to follow Meyer’s lead. I believe President Ryken is a godly man. Why these things continue to happen on his watch is beyond me. 

 

From: Seth Meyers 
Sent: Friday, January 11, 2019 2:17 AM
To: Provost 
Cc: Philip Ryken 
Subject: Concerns for Wheaton College

Dear Dr. Ryken, Dr. Diddams, and Wheaton College, 

My wife and I left the Chicago area 15 years ago to learn a tribal language and live in a poor village in rural Africa. For years, scores of black people have happily eaten at our table and slept in our house, including Tuesday this week. By God’s grace we have seen more than 100 evident conversions from among the poorest people. We have also been on Wheaton’s campus several times and spoken with some of the lecturers.  

When I heard some time ago about Ryan Bomberger’s courageous and loving ministry to save all babies and especially black babies from being murdered, I thanked God. Is he not simply applying Scripture to the present day pagan practice of infanticide? 

How distressing then, but sadly not surprising, to see the dishonorable and cowardly treatment he was given in public by some staff, faculty, and students of a historically Christian institution. As long as no voice from within Wheaton openly opposes their critique, it will continue to be viewed as the official position of the college: Conservative views will be slowly dismissed and mockery of conservative views will have administrative sanction. 

Wheaton college has approved of George Yancy’s positions the same way Jehoshaphat approved of king Ahaziah in 2 Chron. 20:35-37. Wheaton subsequently discouraged the work of a black man working on behalf of black babies. Must Mr. Bomberger go on with his work without the grace of Wheaton’s leadership openly, publicly, explicitly endorsing his devotion to saving lives and stemming the flow of infant blood? Must he endure religiously motivated sophistry (The Record article for example) of those drunk on contemporary worldliness at the institution over which you have been given a brief window of leadership? If this is merely free speech, then would the college take an equally permissive glance at an article promoting eugenics or apartheid? 

I am ashamed for this historically Christian college to stand openly with the friends of Cultural Marxists. What would Dr. Blanchard or Dr. Stedman say were they to wake from their sleep to watch the unfolding parody of Christian injustice perpetrated in the name of “social justice” against a man willing to speak for the innocents? 

If this is a small issue, then why not openly apologize? If this is a big issue, then why cannot Wheaton show us all the example of moral courage that our weak society needs? If this issue is “complicated” then isn’t that really another way of saying, “We are not strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”? Paul answered complicated issues in 1 Corinthians 5 before he had even arrived at the church. Elijah did not entertain multiple perspectives with the prophets of Baal. Samuel cut up Agag’s body in the presence of the king who should have done it. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in their presence without any mitigating, academic nuance. Is Wheaton a model for us and our children of this Christian virtue?

To resolve this complaint, I request that the college officially apologize for the disgraceful lack of discernment that some students and faculty showed by publicly opposing a key conductor in the modern underground railroad. Silence to this request will be one more piece of evidence in a growing compendium that Wheaton’s new endorsements of cultural marxism, homosexuality, evolution, Christian exclusivism, and feminism are the official stances of this previously reputable, Christian institution. 

Sincerely, 

Seth Meyers

Pastor and churchplanter among the Tsongas of South Africa

Update:

After publication, I received the following from Wheaton Spokesperson LaTonya Taylor in response to my question, “What do you say to alumni who are alarmed that Bomberger’s expletive-free and pro-life talk sparked protest, but Yancy’s profane and to some — racist — talk was seemingly embraced?”:

It is not true that Dr. Yancy’s talk was embraced. Many members of the campus community found some of Dr. Yancy’s comments challenging—even disturbing—while others did not. There were some very heated conversations, and there was dissent. The Provost and other faculty members conducted extensive follow-up discussions with students, faculty members and other inquirers over the weeks that followed.

As a reminder, Wheaton College is unequivocally pro-life. (Earlier this year, the College won a five-year legal battle for the right to carry out its religious mission without fear of government fines.) As part of our Community Covenant, members of the College community commit to “uphold the God-given worth of human beings, from conception to death, as the unique image-bearers of God.” Every student, faculty member, staff member and employee signs this commitment every year. It is a requirement in order to work, teach, or study at Wheaton. To our knowledge, students did not express disagreement with Mr. Bomberger’s pro-life stance.

Wheaton welcomes challenging ideas and sees them as an important part of the learning process. We regularly have speakers on campus whose ideas generate disagreement and discussion. We hope our campus continues to be a place for these kinds of discussions.

We’re saddened that our elected student leaders’ empathy expressed to their fellow students in a peer-to-peer message (before it was publicized by Mr. Bomberger) has become a proxy for the “snowflake” and “safe space” narratives many detractors invoke about higher education. Our students are engaged, committed leaders who love Christ and serving others. They are learning how to lead, and we seek to create an environment where they can do so.

 

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19 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Talks: Profane Talk Condemning Whites Receives Praise at Wheaton College While Godly, Prolife Talk is Condemned”

  1. Just like abortion, many people are not willing to have an open, honest, and self-evaluating discussion about racism.

  2. Thank you Seth Meyers for laying it out in clear language citing solid Biblical guidelines that so many today have embraced because we don’t want to reprove them. If purported Christian leaders can’t stand for what is right, then they will fall for anything.

  3. Christians seem to be falling into two camps these days. Disillusioned with the Trumpeteers, they join their far left friends in supporting the “everything is okay” movement, including LGBTQ issues.Far right believers drift so far to the other side that they can espouse racist views, sometimes without even knowing it. As believers, we have no critical thinking skills and we cannot align Scripture to what is occurring in our society. We are tribalized by political party, and we enjoy yelling at each other. It’s enough to make me cry.

    1. Since when is it racist for a white person to correctly point out damaging, non-biblical philosophies or behaviors in society, whether they be embraced by white people or minority people? As believers we are followers of Christ, first, not our skin color, sex, or country of origin, etc.

  4. freethoughtcheboygan

    From Seth Meyer’s reaction: “For years, scores of black people have happily eaten at our table and slept in our house, including Tuesday this week. By God’s grace we have seen more than 100 evident conversions from among the poorest people.”

  5. My goodness that is so sad. I couldn’t even listen to the whole video. Hurts my heart to see what we are doing to each other as fellow believers.

  6. Linn; get a grip. Christians do not join “far left friends.” “Far left” is a/the tool of the evil one, and has nothing at all in common with anything good. The “far left” is not a friend of God, and anyone in that camp is also not a friend of God. God appoints leaders and kings. President Trump, also is appointed by God; like it or not. I like it, and praise God in heaven since we now have Mr. Gorsuch and Mr. Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justices. If you have children, their world will be better for it. I am delighted by the possibility that Mr. Trump may have the opportunity to nominate a third Justice. I bow down in thankfulness for this alone. Imagine; the horror, of Hillary Clinton instead. Far Right is good. Embrace and support it. I make no apology.

    1. Russell-I have Christian friends who have recently opted in to the entire LGBTQ philosophy of both marriage and “free to be you and me.” They also believe that churches should all be gay friendly. I personally consider that very far left of biblical beliefs. Maybe it’s because I live in California, but several of the folks I know don’t live in my state. So, yes, I believe that people are drifting, on both sides of issues. I am hoping that believers will get a grip and begin to define themselves as Christians, not by political party.

      And, yes, I am conservative, but I don’t buy into everything the right has to say. I am a Christian first and foremost, and I have a relationship with Jesus that goes back almost 50 years. Some of the hysteria some of my conservative friends converse about makes me wonder who they think is actually in charge of the world.

  7. I am a Wheaton alum (class of ’87) and I love my alma mater. While I find most of Dr. Yancy’s comments disturbing and his use of obscenity overplayed (quoting one profanity-laced email would have communicated the point), I applaud Wheaton’s dedication to academic diversity and willingness to encourage open dialogue with opposing points of view. What is truly troubling, however, is the lack of a published balanced response to his talk. Where is the dialogue? Without that, we are led to believe that most of the campus shares his opinion.

    After viewing Ryan Bomberger’s presentation, I frankly don’t understand what offended anyone. Who felt underrepresented, unheard or unsafe? The presentation took place in the science lecture hall which holds about 100 max., hardly a large sampling of Wheaton’s 2300 undergrad population. I think it very presumptuous of three student “leaders” to issue that response directly to an off-campus visitor as if it represented the opinion of the entire student body (and tacitly, the college as an institution). My thought here is that students are NOT administrators, therefore have no right to communicate without proper approval with off-campus entities using official titles as if they represent the college. If they want to express their concerns as individuals, no problem.

    In all of this, I find it puzzling that the administration seems hesitant to CLEARLY communicate that Dr. Yancy’s material and this email from the student body leaders do NOT represent the view of the institution. Is this just slowness on their part, or real evidence of a drift to the left? I’m praying they stay the course…

  8. Wait, this talk by Yancy was given in 2017 and you are complaining about it now?

    The controversy with the Ryan Bomberger’s talk was about the discussion after the talk. So it seems a misrepresentation to compare the talk in 2017 and this one.

    I started Yancy’s book Backlash tonight because I wanted to hear his longer presentation. The opening of the book and the complaints here seem like there was an attempt to prove Yancy right. Why is it that we as white Americans are resistant to listening to the real backlash that many Christian racial minorities receive every day.

    If you doubt me, follow a half dozen prominent minority leaders on twitter. Not big names, but names like Jemar Tisby or Duke Kwan or even more conservative leaders like Thabiti Anyabwile and then read the responses to their tweets on twitter. Click through and read the bios of the ones that are most vile. You will see people that proudly say “Christian”, “Pastor of…”, “Follower of the King”, while spewing racial hatred.

    This isn’t a few Christians. I make it a regular practice to click through and read the responses on twitter and the bios of the people responding. It matters. And it matters that in response to a pro-life speech that you do not like, you are going back two years to find a talk on racism that you do not like.

    1. Yancy’s talk was published online Jan. 10, 2019. I don’t know why news of it didn’t come out earlier, but this is the first I’ve heard of it.

      As for Ryan’s talk, I’ve also heard that the controversy stems from the Q&A that happened immediately after his talk, which was recorded along with the presentation. I see the Q&A as part of Blomberg’s presentation, just like the Q&A was part of Yancy’s presentation.

      I think it’s abhorrent that some people claiming to be Christians would spew racist hate toward our African American brothers and sisters. That’s awful and should be condemned, but it doesn’t make what Yancy did okay. If anything, it highlights how important it is that we talk about racial issues in a way that brings awareness, understanding, and healing, rather than stoking the fires of animosity.

  9. Adam, you’re simply wrong. Less than 20% of Americans are on Twitter. I’d venture a strong guess that among the non-woke that you seem to despise, the number is far less than 20%. You make the simple mistake that so many can’t seem to figure out: what happens on Twitter is simply NOT representative of what’s going on in the real world. But, that’s not what this post is about, as much as you wish it was. The simple fact is that Wheaton is a total joke and has abandoned Christianity in some attempt to be embraced by the secular left. Good luck with that.

    1. I am not sure why you suggest that twitter is not the real world. My point wasn’t that twitter was a perfect representation of the world, but that it is an easy way to show that this isn’t a problem with ‘the world’ in general, but a significant problem within the church.

      The problem here is that Blomberg in the unrecorded sections of the Q and A suggested that racism wasn’t a real problem today and the students took issue with that. Julie seems to be taking the same tack her in complaining about Yancy’s presentation and the book it was based on.

      I have now read about 2/3 of the book and found it well worth reading. Does it have a lot of expletives, yes, because they are part of the story of racial animosity and systemic racism that Yancy is telling.

      If the problem is the expletives and not the racism that he is talking about then that really is the problem.

      I understand that you don’t want to accept Yancy’s definition of systemic racism, but that isn’t really the point of what you are doing by comparing the two talks. Blomberg is suggesting that there is a systemic problem with abortion, but that racism is not really a problem. Yancy is citing the systemic problem of racism (in part by illustrating the systemic problem of sexism) and didn’t bring up abortion because it was outside the context of the presentation.

      The comparison is proving the point of what Yancy is trying to talk about.

  10. Here is Dr. Ed Stetzer’s articles about Wheaton and Bomberger.

    https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/january/abortion-black-lives-matter-wheaton-bomberger-disagree.html
    https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/january/wheaton-college-factivism-bomberger-radiance.html

    I’ve followed this story with great interest, namely because my son attends and plays football at Wheaton College. I watched the video presentation by Bomberger (which I felt was good and insightful), read Bomberger’s articles where he accuses Wheaton of compromising and silencing, slandering, and smearing him for his pro-life message and his view on racial issues, along with him publicly contemplating whether he should sue Wheaton student government reps for libel for a letter about him that they sent out to their fellow students. I held off judgment until I heard Wheaton College’s side. Sadly, we are not able to hear the side of Wheaton students that objected to what Bomberger had to say after the talk because he threatened to sue them, which conveniently made this a more one-sided narrative controlled by Bomberger. However, now that Dr. Stetzer from Wheaton has weighed in, Bomberger needs to answer some questions about how he portrayed Wheaton.

    Question #1: Why did Bomberger portray and mislead the public about the disagreement between him and Wheaton college as if the students and the college were objecting to a Pro-life stance? The headlines and part of the articles he wrote comes across as misleading click-bait about why the students objected to him and felt him controversial.

    Question #2: Why did Bomberger portray and mislead the public that the leadership was silent about the controversial speech by George Yancy and yet supported the “smearing” of himself? (Stetzer explained in the 2nd article that many of Wheaton’s administration and faculty opposed Yancy’s speech and Yancy will never be invited to speak at Wheaton again). It looks like Bomberger made accusations against Wheaton’s leadership without most of the facts about how the school handled the Yancy incident.

    Question #3: Why did Bomberger threaten to sue Wheaton students with libel? The communication about Bomberger was sent only to Wheaton students, not the outside public. I thought the email sent by the student government wasn’t wise and was flaky, but threatening a libel suit over it? Right now, the Wheaton students are not telling their side of the story because they don’t want to have to deal with a lawsuit. Bomberger, with all the attention and money that has come in from this controversy (anger and rage is a great fundraising tool), can control the narrative and has the money to hire a lawyer.
    Bomberger has continually contended that Wheaton and other Christian colleges are trying to silence, slander, and smear him. Ironically, with these 3 questions, it looks as if Bomberger is doing much of the silencing, slandering, and smearing; the very thing that he accused Wheaton of.

    1. I can’t speak for Bomberger. However, concerning #2, Bomberger (and I) were not privy to the conversations that Stetzer recounts. In fact, the official position of the college was that it would not comment on Yancy’s talk. So I’m glad to hear Stetzer report that some at the college objected. But I can’t understand why the college wasn’t more forthcoming, or why Bomberger would be criticized for not knowing information he wasn’t privy to.

  11. In PC America and the West it is sociably acceptable and preferred that you are racist and bigoted toward whites. Never mind it’s liberal leftist policies that hurt black families by subsidizing fatherlessness through the welfare state. Families without the present of a father is extremely detrimental for growth and success in life. What is responsible for more black deaths in America? Planned Parenthood and other abortionists and other black people. Blacks deaths are killed by other blacks over 90%. But it’s more sociably acceptable to bash whites for the problems of the inner cities.
    What people need to hear is Jesus is the only source for peace, and success in life not a government program or entitlement.

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