This is the tale of two lectures at Wheaton College, a Christian evangelical college in the suburbs of Chicago. One was given in September 2017 and the other in November 2018. Though only a year apart, the responses to the two presentations were universes apart. The reaction is very telling and tragic for those who believe that a Christian education is different than a secular one.
The first speech (listen to excerpts here) was given by Dr. George Yancy, a philosophy professor at Emory University (huge thanks to Jamie Dean at World Magazine for an excellent article on this and uncovering actual audio recording). It was sponsored by Wheaton’s Philosophy department and held in the esteemed Billy Graham Center on campus. It was entitled: “A Post-Racial America? White Gazes and Black Bodies." It can only be described as an expletive-laced, pornographic, racist, anti-biblical screed. His theme? “To be white is to be racist.”
There was no backlash from Wheaton’s leadership. There were no letters sent out by any staff or student government leaders denouncing him or raising concerns about the hostile, f-bomb-laden speech. There was only internal praise by the school’s own Wheaton Record.
Then there’s that second speech. Wheaton College Republicans courageously invited me to speak about abortion and race. Keep in mind, there’s never been anyone—ever—to address racism and the abortion industry at Wheaton. In fact, no one has addressed the issue of abortion at their thrice weekly chapels but once (briefly) in many years. Wheaton, though founded by slavery abolitionists, doesn’t lead whatsoever on the abolition of abortion. One would think a school that (sort of) espouses a pro-life worldview, at least on its website (“followers of Jesus Christ will uphold the dignity of human beings, from conception until death…”), would encourage students to put that into action by attending the March for Life Chicago or volunteering at a local pregnancy resource center.
Needless to say, I did not speak in the center named after the school’s most famous alum. But I did speak to a standing-room only audience in another Wheaton lecture hall. My multimedia talk was entitled "Black Lives Matter In and Out of the Womb." it was an expletive-free, fact-based, statistics-driven, Biblically-rooted, deeply personal and grace-filled discussion on the systemic racism of the abortion industry and the hypocrisy of the pro-abortion #BlackLivesMatter movement. 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.
So a biblical worldview that reminds us we’re created in the image of God and that we’re one human race, created out of one blood (Acts 17:26), is not in line with Wheaton’s mission?
“Given the history of white supremacy, we ought to be the ones who fear white people. I mean sh*t, if you’re black you should be scared as hell here at Wheaton College,” Yancy told students. He also asserted “that in the end, white people are the n***ers.” That got zero pushback from Wheaton leadership. Zilch.
“To be white is to be racist,” Yancy repeated over and over. This is what a Christian institution is peddling.
Yancy dug up racist diatribes of people from the 1700s like Immanuel Kant, Thomas Jefferson (with a revised f-bomb version of Jefferson’s quote about the “oranootan”, now spelled orangutan) and David Hume. The only modern-day examples he gives are anonymous rants from online commenters and white supremacists on obscure and unnamed websites. He never gave any examples of actual racism from modern-day leaders. No stats—just regurgitations of mainstream media #blacklivesmatter propaganda that divisively color the narrative of police brutality.
He could have invoked plenty of examples of racists in the 20th century in the American Eugenics movement like Frederick Osborn (founder of the American Eugenics Society), Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood), and Henry H. Goddard (psychologist who coined the term “moron”), but he would have had to talk about all those “white bodies” touching and destroying “black bodies” through the undeniable and celebrated form of systemic racism—abortion. But I digress.
There’s a reason why Wheaton never posted Yancy’s speech for the public to hear. It’s easier to do things in darkness. If most Christian parents had any idea some of the vile sludge that’s being force-fed to their children at an alarming and increasing number of Christian colleges, they’d be horrified. So I’ve edited some of the most outrageous clips from Yancy’s speech for parents, students, alumni and the general public to understand how insidious a lie is. You need to hear this short clip. It. Is. Shocking.
We must fight the sin of racism and work toward understanding and loving one another in intentional and tangible ways. Yancy’s approach isn’t it. He’s stuck in 1860. He admits he has no practical or spiritual solution to offer: “It’s not about leaving white people with hope. That’s not my job. White America sees me as a nigger. White America sees you, if you are black, as a nigger. And I don’t want you to forget that.”
Christianity offers a completely different perspective. It’s called love (a word never mentioned by Yancy). It transforms everything, makes us new creations, compels us toward forgiveness, and creates real and lasting unity. If preaching that message gets me, students, or faculty smeared on a Christian college campus, then smear away. Someone will be set free.