Wheaton College’s Promotion of Social Justice

By Julie Roys

Under the guise of so-called “social justice,” far left radical theorists like former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers are gaining a foothold in America’s public schools. But, I discovered these same theorists have infiltrated my alma mater, Wheaton College — the school often regarded as the evangelical flagship. Plus, some Wheaton staff are espousing a view of America consistent with the Left — that it’s an oppressive nation that perpetuates injustice. Below is an 11-minute investigative piece I produced that aired on the Sandy Rios Show on the Salem Radio Network.

After my piece aired, Sandy Rios interviewed Sol Stern, a contributing editor to “City Journal” and a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute. “I’m actually shocked that a self-described Christian college would foist these horrible ideas on our future teachers and encourage them to then foist them on future students,” Stern said. “It’s stunning…” Below is audio from that interview.

Sandy also interviewed Stephan Thernstrom, Winthrop Research Professor of History at Harvard University and also Manhattan Institute senior fellow. “It just strikes me as very naïve,” Thernstrom says of Wheaton’s response. “The fact is many sinister, oppressive, hideous political and social movements in history have had noble rhetoric. They pretended to be grand in their solutions of human problems…” Below is audio from Thernstrom’s interview.

Sandy has received lots of e-mail response to her show devoted to Wheaton’s promotion of social justice. One e-mail she received from the parent of a Wheaton student was very telling. “When she would come home from school, we noticed her worldview was changing…” Audio of Sandy reading the e-mail is below.

Below is a link to Wheaton’s response to my investigative report. I am disheartened the school is not addressing the issues I raised, but instead mischaracterizing my investigation. However, we are in dialogue and I am truly hoping Wheaton will change its stance. (Note: This post has since been removed by the college. Read the blog update on this development.)

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You can read the original Conceptual Framework document of Wheaton College’s Education Department here. (Note: The document has since been changed.)

Julie Roys is a Christian speaker, journalist, and host of national talk radio show Up for Debate. Follow Julie on Facebook or Twitter.



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14 thoughts on “Wheaton College’s Promotion of Social Justice”

  1. Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

    It seems to me that those of us who believe in the truth of this scripture believe in the reality that Satan is still, until the eschaton, the ruler of this world. As this ruler, he is busy using our individual sin to engineer varieties of systemic sin such as systemic racism and systemic injustice in regard to education, economics, etc. To make it sound as if America has somehow escaped this is problematic. Therefore, it is true that to some degree, America is oppressive and is perpetuating injustice, just like any other earthly government. Rather than deny that this is true, it seems more productive to me to engage those who are saying these things in order to discern what is true and helpful in their contributions and what is not, and to guide students in learning to do the same. I had the opportunity to do this during my education at a fine Christian school, and it has greatly enhanced my ability to stand strong in my beliefs, which are quite traditionally Biblical and not at all liberal.

    Doesn’t viewing America as a “special exception” to the fact that this world is under Satan’s power have its own spiritual problems? I personally value the Kingdom of God (which I believe is now present but not yet fulfilled) over the principality of America, which I believe God will judge along with everything else fouled by human sin on the last day. Then we can choose between the Kingdom of God and NOWHERE (hell). If this is true then, it is true now in its “not yet fulfilled” fashion. So I intend to wear the full armor of God and live as fully as I can in the K.O.G. while showing Christ’s relentless love and mercy to all, including my enemies, rather than taking on a job only God can do–redeeming an earthly government under the rule of Satan. Christian parents should of course speak out about what they’d like their children to learn in school, but no matter how much of this is done, what is taught there is bound to be infested with lies. Christian parents then have the responsibility to teach their children to see what is truth and what is not, no matter who is saying it. The less time they waste on the fantasy of “political solutions” the more time they will have to devote to teaching their children.

  2. Really frightening that the leaders at Wheaton have been so seduced by the message of the left. If they knew anything of history, they would know that the left has always been the most stunning of oppressors. They have destroyed countries. They have crushed religion, ruined lives, created gulags. No one in history slaughtered as many people as Stalin. And it has always been the Christians or those with Christian ideals (which has generally meant Conservatives in the US) who have mandated equality (the Declaration of Independence; George Washington establishing that Jews must be treated equally), have freed people (Lincoln was the first Republican president in US history; Martin Luther King, Jr. was a minister, and so on), and almost every charity in the world for the last 100 years has been run by Christians, and primarily supported by Americans.

    However, the Bible does tell us that there will be a time when men will call evil good and good evil. I think we’re there.

    But it would be wise for Christians to remember that the Bible warns us: “A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left.” (Eccl. 10:2)

  3. Well said Janie.
    1 Peter 2:10-12 (New International Version)

    10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

    11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

  4. I agree with Janie that there is no human institution that is exempt from the effects of the fall of man. And as Christians, we have a duty to seek to mitigate the effects of our fallen nature by seeking justice, helping the poor, and alleviating suffering in all its forms. But institutions don’t have agency or the capacity to sin; only humans do.

    My concern is that there is a particular political and pedagogical theory called “Critical Pedagogy” that includes some philosophical commitments that are deeply troubling and non-biblical. This particular body of thinking dominates secular schools and departments of education. And the Wheaton College Department of Education’s Conceptual Framework cites virtually every significan proponent of Critical Pedagogy, many of whom hold distinctly non-biblical worldviews.

    Critical Pedagogy encourages students to view the world through the divisive lens of “identity politics,” dividing the world into groups according to who is the purported oppressor and who the purported oppressed. And within that framework, there are some troubling ideas.

    First, there is the idea that homosexuality constitutes an immutable and essential identity and that homosexuals constitute an oppressed group. They are oppressed, in part, by the presence of moral disapproval, which means that orthodox biblical beliefs are considered oppression.

    Also, “identity politics” tend to rob people of a sense of agency in and responsibility for their own lives. It communicates the idea that their lives cannot improve through their own efforts but only through the experience of guilt on the parts of the purported “oppressors” who have never have engaged in any actual oppressive acts.

    One of the chief proponents of Critical Pedagogy at the school I used to work in repeatedly stated that those who are white, male, and heterosexual are automatically oppressors regardless of their beliefs and actions. That is not a Christian idea, and it is commonplace in the thinking of many of the theorists cited in the Wheaton College Department of Education’s Conceptual Framework.

    Critical Pedagogy also hyper-focuses on the flaws of America. I completely support an objective study of America’s history, including its flaws. But proponents of Critical Pedagogy usually de-emphasize the remarkable successes of America while over-emphasizing its failings. One student I worked with who had as a teacher the proponent of Critical Pedagogy I mentioned earlier told me that by the end of first semester with this teacher, she hated being white and hated being American.

    As the mother of two Wheaton students and mother-in-law of two more, I hope and assume that Wheaton does not promote these ideas. The problem is that the preponderance of far-left theorists suggests either that they do or that their Conceptual Framework misrepresents their philosophical position. Even the Department Chair, Jill Lederhouse, admitted to Julie Roys that perhaps the Conceptual Framework relies too heavily on far-left scholars.

    I would love to hear that faculty members in the Department of Education have their students study criticism of Critical Pedagogy, Critical Race Theory, and Black Liberation Theology. I would love to learn that in addition to studying Paulo Freire, Bill Ayers, and Carol Gilligan, they study Sol Stern’s article that appeared in the Washington Times “Pedagogy of the Oppressor,” and Christina Hoff Sommers’ critique of Carol Gilligan’s work. And I would love to see their Conceptual Framework include references to Christian Scholars like Ronald Nash who wrote the book Social Justice and the Christian Church.

  5. As the parent of a H.S. junior who is currently evaluating college options, I find this topic of great importance as well as very elusive. As we have visit several Christian colleges including Wheaton I have found that the term “social justice” is ubiquitous. Aware that the ideas supporting this term are often from a progress political viewpoint, I have sought to understand how the notion of social justice on campus and in the classroom is understood. Is it just a “hip” way to talk about Biblical ideas of mercy and compassion as illustrated by our Lord in his parable of the Good Samaritan, or is it intertwined with anti-capitalisim, identity politics, critical pedagogy, etc?

    Are their any parents out there who have experienced a child who has undergone a negative transformation at Wheaton or is this just much ado about semantics and the use of an “unfortunate” word choice?

  6. Did you hear the audio clip of Sandy reading a letter from a Wheaton parent? I think that’s quite telling.

    I also talked to a Wheaton student who relayed that a number of students are upset about the constant barrage of leftist rhetoric from certain Wheaton professors. My own niece and nephew, who are Wheaton students, laughed out loud when asked if they ever hear professors argue issues from a conservative standpoint.

    Also, the Wheaton Record published a poll revealing that 41% of Wheaton faculty and 43% of Wheaton administration support the recent healthcare legislation. The Record also published a poll showing that 60% of Wheaton faculty voted for Obama.

    Lastly, Wheaton maintains a special collection on the history and activities of the very left-leaning Christian social action and community group called Sojourners.
    So yes, I do believe progressive ideas are behind Wheaton’s embrace of social justice.

  7. The disturbing thing to me is not that left wing sources are cited but that conservative sources are apparently either ignored or deemed inconsequential. If Wheaton still stands for Christ and His Kingdom, perhaps it ought to be doing the primary Biblical research and application it says is so lacking.

  8. TO Janie and my friend David Malone,

    I think you’re being disingenuous. How does following along with the theories of a terrorist like Ayers fit with your idea of “just showing Christ’s love to all?” I can’t wait for the explanation on that one.

  9. Pingback: Why I Blew the Whistle on Moody | Julie Roys – The Right JB

  10. Want to support this organization, but I am concerned about your stance on Social Justice. Certainly, Wheaton shouldn’t be uncritically presenting Marxist concepts, but to say that there is no institutional racism is shockingly naive to say the least! As an African American male with multiple engineering degrees and a long and successful career, I have run into a lot of it. And, yes, most of it at the hands of white males. But also, some white females as well. It is as factual as water being wet, in my experience.

    On the other hand, presenting self defeating ideas that focusing on yourself as a victim, and painting all white males as oppressors is just as ridiculous.

    Teddy Roosevelt understood that the extreme concentration of wealth during his term as President was a threat to the nation. So, he used anti-trust laws to break up the big banks and corporations. Crony Capitalism today has in many ways returned to the state it was in when Roosevelt was President, but no Roosevelt has appeared on the horizon to slow down the corrupt crony capitalism train.

    1. Hi Keith,

      My views on this have evolved over the years. I agree with you that institutional racism certainly exists. I also agree that interpreting everything within the grid of victim/oppressor is unhelpful, as well. It’s a complex issue, for sure. And I don’t claim to have the answers. I do think that when we explore these issues, we must do so from a distinctly biblical perspective. What concerns me most is the way the church often imports secular ideas without evaluating them according to Scripture.

      Thanks for engaging!

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