The article that started it all. An Educator’s Apostasy during the Age of Inquisition
I am of the priestly caste of the Church of Woke, a teacher employed in one of her sacred churches, a public school. I, pagan of the Old Ways- Civic Nationalism and the Western tradition- am a heretic of the New Orthodoxy. Worse than heresy, I have committed apostasy: renouncing my ideological faith. I have abandoned my sacred post as her defender and pledged my shield to a new maiden, the truth. I, heretic, by my very presence in a school, am committing sacrilege; defiling the sacrosanct liberal institution with my heterodoxy. For how long I am allowed to remain in these once hallowed halls remains to be seen, for only ex-communication and exile await those of my ilk.
Perhaps my fate is deserved, for a former acolyte turned apostate in occupancy of the priesthood represents a grave threat to their theocratic regime. Tied to a stake staring back at the self-righteous and judging gazes from my former brethren and priests of the grand Wokequisition, I make this final appeal to what remains of their reason, for I believe some amongst them, perhaps those sympathetic who think they can continue the masquerade, will one day to feel the wrathful flames of condemnation burning at their feet. Never did I imagine that I would one day embrace heresy and be labeled anathema to the church I had pledged my service.
‘O ye of Little Faith
As a faithless young man, I found purpose and agency in the Church of Woke. So great was the formal educational inculcation that I chose to pledge my life in service to her mission as a teacher, a champion of the Woke’s empty god.
The zeal with which I testified to my faith and mission to disrupt systems of oppression was met with high praise and accolades, and it felt good. The Woke faith, like all others, fulfilling our most innate needs for purpose, agency, and direction. It is in part promulgated by social validation, and service to her cause in education elevates one beyond mere validity and into status. These are powerful psychological forces, and we should not find it surprising that so many fear losing their comfort. Even those who have stirrings of doubt know their social survival depends on their ability to quell their dissonance. The cost comes at a heavy price, however. Not only to our civil society that depends on vocal dissent but to the well-being of one’s soul.
Teachers frequently use religiously thematic language when discussing their purpose in the profession; although not intentional, it is nonetheless revealing. They will speak of their “calling”- why they became a teacher- and refer to their career as “service.” Many, but not all, have fundamentally good intentions, but they confuse intent with material goodness and have had their minds warped through years of their indoctrination. If anything can be said to their detriment, their commitment to the faith supersedes their responsibility to impartiality and reason. They will speak of the Enlightenment ideals favorably and declare themselves disciples of truth, reason, and science, but these are empty gestures. Faith always supersedes objective truth, and the tools that bring us closer to reality are only valued by the Woke when they uphold their sacred tenets.
As a young teacher, I was empowered by the brethren and bishops of education to propagate the faith’s teachings to the impressionable young minds before me. I was able to do this for a time, but what is most ironic is that my entrance and service to the priesthood served as a precursor to a crisis of faith. Teaching was supposed to validate my worldview and the teachings of the Church of Woke. Still, the more experience I acquired, especially those at odds with what the faith preached about people and the world, the more I could not reconcile the dogma of the New Orthodoxy with the world before me. In speaking with many teachers, I do not believe this is a unique experience, but what is striking is how I chose to deal with my crisis of faith.
Crisis of Faith
While it is common for those of the Old Ways to cast off their heathenism through the awakening of Wokeness, it is quite another to recant her teachings entirely. When teachers of the divine charge do so and openly blaspheme, it is nothing less than treason. Even more dangerous is when the heretic is of sound mind and speaks from reason, for their sacrilege cannot be reduced to hysterical, reactionary conservatism. It raises doubts in the sense of the pious, for Wokeness is supposed to be the endpoint of transitory liberal politics. “Perhaps, one might ask, “Wokeness is not the way, and the truth, and the life, but a subjective ideology like all of the others?” If a Christian renounces the Church and embraces the old gods, one would ask what precipitates such an unorthodox conversion? In that same manner that you may be wondering, what would cause a Woke teacher to renounce the New Orthodoxy and embrace the Ways of Old? I would describe my current repudiation of the faith as something borne of two crises of faith. One which sowed seeds of doubt and the other which reaped that doubt. “What,” I asked myself, “am I to do with this doubt?” And so began my turn to wisdom long since past, at the expense of the faith I had once had.
My first crisis of faith- that which planted seeds of doubt- arose when I tasted the fruits of orthodoxical adherence in the holy halls of public education. When I entered the teaching profession and first set foot in school as a teacher, I was a shepherd, and my students were my downtrodden flock that would be saved through the grace of the light I had known and abided by.
Teaching in a failing, decrepit urban school is a humbling experience. Learning that these schools are not the result of the “underfunding” trope but fail despite- by global standards- generous funding is shocking. From the deteriorating infrastructure to the broken spirits of students and teachers, I was forced to reckon with the paternalistic belief that public schools could serve as beacons of enlightenment that would uplift the dispossessed.
Many in the profession resolve this cognitive dissonance by embracing a series of ideas that resolve the conflict between belief and experience. The first way teachers reconcile a crisis of faith is by arguing that schools are underfunded (they are not)1, or that poor communities do not get a “fair share” of funding (they do).2
The second way dissonance is resolved is through the projection of school failure onto some ominous ever-present bogeymen working tirelessly to destroy public education3 (see White Supremacy). These are convenient explanations that allow teachers to continue “the work” while not abandoning their progressive tenets. Under empirical scrutiny, however, these claims fall apart, or at the least leave doubts as to their veracity.
The Old Gods
The empirical scrutiny I have described as the precursor to my second crisis of faith, where I tried to reconcile the ideologically convenient explanations against the empirical backdrop of research to the contrary. Together these two crises of faith led me to reassess everything I had believed and to engage in metamorphic processes; one built upon an empirical and rational model for understanding the world. It was this process that marked a return to the Ways of Old, the ways of the Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution of Western Civilization. Both of which run contrary to the foundations of Wokeness due to Wokeness’ roots in French Postmodernism and its assault on time-tested ways of knowing and reasoning. Even the basis of the empirical tools I used to reexamine my beliefs was suspect in the eyes of the Church, for Western Civilization, they would argue- despite their lifestyles, philosophies, and values being a product of it- has not produced better ways of learning and knowing. If anything, they would argue, Western Civilization is at best one of many subjectively esteemed civilizations, and at worst an enemy civilization representing Whiteness and the worst humanity has to offer. Therefore the methodologies and tools created and adopted by the West are those of “Whiteness”, and their use in challenging the faith is nothing less than White Supremacy.
Their vision in practice, and their delusions of utopia being one more educational policy away, only drew me further from the faith and emboldened my appreciation for the tools and the civilization that produced them. Whereas before I relied on faith and intuition, I now had ways of knowing and understanding that existed more objectively and verifiably than before. Even my modalities of thinking were being transformed, for despite feeling as if I were approaching a more accurate and objective view of the world, I was not intoxicated with the unshakable certainty common among the Woke. I was fallible and my beliefs were being formed by the best approximation of reality available. I was no longer precluded from being wrong in light of new evidence. I found solace in that intellectual vulnerability that Wokeness does not allow. I was free from ideological capture and relieved of the exhausting state of cognitive dissonance I had endured. Even more critical, my identity was becoming detached from Wokeness. Whereas before, I felt compelled to defend the tenets of my faith out of fear of who I would be, what purpose I would have, and what values I would hold in its absence, I now was liberated from these ideological trappings and could anchor my identity in what is more meaningful and enduring: ageless values, such as truth, reason, and justice; things that are beholden to no ideology and loyal unto themselves.
The Grand Wokequisition
I believe that far more teachers than are willing to admit are undergoing the first crisis of faith I described, where experience shakes the foundations of their faith. Perhaps this crisis of faith is not an anomaly but a systemic phenomenon common among all teachers due to the generally abysmal state of a significant number of American schools. If I am correct, it would explain why so many teachers vow commitment to the faith and proselytize with zeal, especially in response to renewed public criticism and skepticism concerning their religion.
You see, it is common for religions under attack to commit to their orthodoxy with renewed zeal. Religious fanaticism is often borne as a response to apostasy, a socially necessary phenomenon when the faith perceives itself to be under attack. Take the Spanish Inquisition, for example, a zealous attempt to purge the Church of the threat of internal heresy4. Religions seldom respond to heresy and apostasy as an impetus for reformation, but as a call to renewed zeal, and while this seems contradictory, it is likely what enables them to survive well beyond political ideologies that are receptive to failure.
What we are witnessing in schools across the country is a doubling down on the politics of Wokeness in the form of Critical Race Theory and Critical Pedagogy5. This is a response to a larger unspoken crisis of faith. The failures of public education and teachers are ultimately theocratic and missionary failures; the consequence of progressive politics and Wokeness. To admit this is to shake the foundations of the faith. Yet the response of the faithful has been to argue that these failures are in spite of, not due to, the faith’s theology and works. In the minds of the faithful, school failure is evidence that Wokeness has not gone far enough! Much as Communist regimes of the twentieth century would argue that their dismal social conditions were not a result of the revolution, but a failure of the revolution to go far enough, the Church of Woke has argued the same. Now she has turned her attention to ferreting out a new scapegoat in her halls, “White Supremacy”6. I have dubbed this turn the beginning of the Grand Wokequisition, to which we are current witnesses7.
What is ironic for those that can see it, is that you had a system with near-complete ideological control of its policies, pedagogies, and curriculums8, and it still produced the unfortunate outcomes and inequities it was supposed to eliminate as part of its divine charge9. For a time, a series of shifting scapegoats were sufficient to explain the educational failure and persistent inequalities; such as the idea that a small and villainous cabal of the elite sought to undermine public education for undefined, yet nefarious reasons. These were the Koch Brothers, the school choice movement, and the standardized testing industry, to name a few. This moral panic over the elite subversion of public education coincided with the Occupy Wall Street movement which pointed to similar enemies as responsible for America’s social, political, and economic woes10. For a time this explanation sufficed, but it became problematic when the supposed grand scheme of these enemies to destroy public education did not meaningfully materialize. A new enemy needed to be identified as responsible for school failure, one alike yet with broader social trends. This time the Church would acknowledge in part the failures within its churches, and they would turn their gaze upon them to seek and destroy this new threat
In tandem with the populist Woke conversions, spurned by the “martyrdom” of men like Michael Brown, George Floyd, and Jacob Blake, schools joined the broader societal inquisition aimed at destroying White Supremacy. This time they would focus on the enemy within; the supposed infestation of White Supremacy in education. What happened to the elite forces that once signified the threat to public education and the reason for its failure? They had joined the ranks of the faithful! If the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and institutions had pledged their faith and mobilized their resources in support of the Church, what then?11
The enemy had changed. It was no longer a coven of witches who were responsible for educational and social failures, but the omnipresent ethereal influence of witchcraft itself. Everyone became suspect, and no one was safe, for the presence of White Supremacy was said to exist within the very fabric of our society and individual being. Worse, as women have borne the brunt of suspicion and blame for witchcraft throughout history, whites now inherited collective bloodguilt for historical transgressions long since passed, and this made them culpable for present-day inequities.
When schools turned inward, they faced a unique challenge because compared to other institutions in society, they were the most faithful12. How does one root out White Supremacy amongst the hierarchy of schools? By making them prove their piety. Not only did the faithful have to repent of their original sin of racism, confess their privilege, and engage in moral self-flagellation, but so too did the administrative institutional hierarchy: the bishops, the cardinals, and so forth13. Questions that arose over who was faithful and who was not were remediated by schools’ commitment to Antiracism™, equity, diversity, and inclusion. One might think this would have been problematic to educators and principals alike, but it worked because it allowed them to retain their holy status- for who would deny the tenets of the faith or demands to assert devotion?- while still actively doing their part in fulfilling the inquisition.
A Church of Perpetual Sin
In this sense, the Church of Woke has become much like Christianity- perhaps not coincidentally considering our puritanical roots and revivalist traditions- a church of sinners existing in perpetual sin, and seeking forgiveness and redemption. And like the Catholic tradition, which accepts states of sin so long as confessions and displays of good works are frequent and visible, the Church of Woke allows its teachers to be vulnerable to the corruption of sin so long as they are actively preaching the faith and fighting to dismantle its enemies. Unlike Christianity, however, the Woke have no clear path to redemption and increasingly, no amount of repentance or self-admonishment is good enough.
With no clear exit strategy from the inquisition, and schools actively engaged in proselytizing potential new disciples, I fear this is far from over and shudder to think about what lies ahead. We are asked to find comfort in their mission to eliminate racism and make society more equitable, but history has taught us that intentions and purpose are rarely if ever the problem; it is the ways in which they pursue, with increasing zeal and vitriol, their goals that is of concern. For who would object to any of the stated goals of tyrannical social movements in history? Who in Salem would have thought that eliminating the corrupting influences of witchcraft and its evils would be harmful? It was that their pursuit of goodness ended with a noose around the neck which makes us so wary of movements that share similar sentiments.
Silent No More
I can no longer remain silent and I have made a choice, come what may. Most of the innocuous stated goals of the Church of Woke are no more frightening than the Communists’ appeal to eliminate poverty, but everything comes down to how those goals are achieved and from what I have witnessed thus far, and from the lessons of history, I am not comforted in the least by good intentions or noble aspirations.
Having renounced my faith, I, heretic of the New Orthodoxy face an uncertain future as the inquisition maintains its course. The battle to end the Grand Wokequisition before it erupts into a crusade begins and ends in our schools. As the inquisition turns inward and places teachers on trial, our children, those that will determine the fate of our republic, will pay the price.
It is truly up to the small internal resistance of heterodox teachers to defend what remains of our Western educational system. There are three choices before teachers: we either purge our heresy and join the Woke, are purged from these institutions ourselves, or we resist and inspire others to join us. I choose resistance. I defiantly renounce my faith in the New Orthodoxy and call upon others to do the same.