North Dakota school superintendent calls for CRT ban and a 'devout Christ-centered republic'
Far-right social conservatives who rail against “critical race theory” are often likely to be the same people who also believe the United States should be a Christianist state governed by strict fundamentalist ideology. A case in point: Larry Volk, superintendent for the Starkweather Public School District in North Dakota, is calling for a “Christ-centered republic” at the same time he is vowing to keep “critical race theory” out of public schools in his district.
Volk needn’t worry about “critical race theory” being taught in K-12 schools in Starkweather or anywhere else in the United States. CRT, a specific type of study that is found on some college campuses, argues that the racism of the past continues to influence American institutions in the present — and it isn’t being taught in public schools. There isn’t a left-wing movement to bring CRT studies to public elementary schools, middle schools or high schools.
But the far right is conflating any mention of racial justice with CRT, and Volk is a prime example. In a recent e-mail, journalist Caroline Vakil reports in The Hill, Volk wrote, “Racial injustice has been pushed by a political ideology — not a race of people. There is no systemic racism in America created by our Founding Fathers — the racism is the project of the godless Democrat Party that has rejected God, family, faith and America and embraced secularism in the form of Marxism.”
In that e-mail, Volk vowed that CRT “will never be taught in our district,” adding, “We will not teach institutionalized bigotry promoted by the left.” Volk also said that it is “time to move away from godless corrupt woke, left-wing ideology and back to the devout Christ-centered republic the founders envisioned.”
Volk’s e-mail was wrong-headed on many levels. First, he downplays the fact that racism is part of U.S. history. Second, he conflates any mention of racism with CRT. Third, he claims there is a movement to bring CRT studies to public K-12 schools, which there isn’t. Fourth, he fails to understand that the U.S. Constitution is not a Christian fundamentalist document.
Freedom of religion is constitutionally protected in the U.S., but fundamentalist evangelical White Christians are not the only ones who enjoy that protection. Freedom of religion protects not only Catholics and Protestants, but also, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Bahais and Buddhists as well — and atheists and agnostics, for that matter.
Chris Berg, president of the Starkweather School Board, told InForum, “I know Mr. Volk very well and know exactly what his views are. I completely back his views 100%, and we agree completely on that. We are very tired of the woke leftists pushing their garbage on the school systems and the United States as a whole.”
Vakil explains what CRT is in The Hill, writing, “Critical race theory, a decades-old academic theory taught generally in higher education circles, examines racism in the U.S., including how its racist structures and institutions have lasting impacts felt by communities of color into the present day. There has been no evidence that the theory is taught in North Dakota schools, but state lawmakers voted to ban the teaching of the theory during a special session last month.”
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