Voddie Baucham was confused or just making things up. That’s what critical race theory co-founder Dr. Richard Delgado said when he learned that the Evangelical Christian preacher misattributed a quote to him that he, in fact, has never said.
“I think the writer whose work you are referring to was confusing me with someone else or just making things up, either of which is a bad idea when you are writing for an audience that values integrity and truth-telling!” Delgado said Tuesday in an email to Faithfully Magazine.
Delgado’s remark came after this writer emailed him a link to a Religion News Service report on allegations of plagiarism leveled against Baucham, the African American author of the bestselling book Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe.
Publisher Salem Books claims that in Fault Lines, Baucham “explains the sinister worldview behind the social justice movement and Critical Race Theory.”
Critical race theory, or CRT, is a theoretical framework developed by legal scholars in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement to examine the impact of race on the nation’s laws. The movement has since grown and taken on many layers as scholars have sought to address the concerns of different minority communities. The movement’s many founders include Kimberlé Crenshaw, Cheryl Harris, Mari Matsuda, Patricia J. Williams, Delgado, and several others.
Christians have sought to examine CRT in light of their beliefs about God and the Bible. For example, popular megachurch pastor and author Tony Evans taught on the subject for his congregation, highlighting what he thinks are the legal framework’s valid points and inadequacies. Wheaton College professor Dr. Nathan Luis Cartagena produced a series on CRT for Faithfully Magazine, encouraging Christians to approach the movement with integrity in light of their faith.
Baucham has emerged as a CRT critic, his book offering inaccurate and exaggerated claims about critical race theory and what the movement’s proponents supposedly believe.
Beyond condemning CRT in his book, Baucham presents proponents of the academic discipline “in the worst possible light,” according to the RNS report on Joel McDurmon’s allegations against the “preacher, professor, and cultural apologist.”
“There’s this very loose respect paid to what the sources actually say and mean. And there’s this readiness to take them in the most sinister way possible,” McDurmon told RNS.
McDurmon, an author and public theologian, points to Baucham’s disingenuous insinuation both in his book and in public remarks that Delgado claims in Critical Race Theory that “whites are incapable of righteous actions on race.”
Delgado and his wife Jean Stefancic both teach at the University of Alabama School of Law and specialize in civil rights, constitutional law, and critical race theory. They co-authored Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, a seminal work in the field that had its third printing in 2017.
In Fault Lines, Baucham references Delgado and Stefancic’s summary of the “second feature” of the “Basic Tenets of Critical Race Theory,” which states: “Because racism advances the interests of both white elites (materially) and working-class whites (psychically), large segments of society have little incentive to eradicate it.”
After quoting this summary of “‘interest convergence’ or material determinism,” Baucham insists (original emphasis included): “This means whites are incapable of righteous actions on race and only undo racism when it benefits them; when their interest ‘converge’ with interests of people of color.”
One could suggest that Baucham, dean of the school of divinity at African Christian University in Zambia, simply offers his own interpretation and application of interest convergence, as he does with the other tenets of CRT. However, he has claimed in definite terms during public remarks that Delgado had “used the word righteous.”
Baucham makes the false claim in a video published to YouTube by Flat Creek Baptist Church on January 31, 2021.
In the video, titled “Engage: Voddie Baucham,” the former pastor says at the 1:29:21 mark:
“Again, I’ll read from the seminal work on critical race theory, Delgado’s book Critical Race Theory: Racism advances the interests of both whites, white elites (materially) and working class whites (psychically). Large segments of society have little incentive to eradicate it. This means whites are incapable of righteous actions on race, and only undo racism when it benefits them, when their interests converge with the interest of people of color. And yes, he used the word righteous, white people are incapable of righteous actions on race.”
“I very much doubt I’ve ever said anything remotely like it,” Delgado told Faithfully Magazine.
He added: “I’m certain that I’ve never discussed religion in my own writing. I’m as siloed as many in academic life—I work and read mainly in my own field and rarely venture outside it.”
The legal scholar noted that his case study Latinos and the Law “has a short section with excerpts from Lat-Crit writers who do consider the place of religion in the struggle for social justice, for Latinos in particular.”
“But I’ve never written specifically on that subject myself,” Delgado added. Instead, he pointed to Derrick Bell, who he described as “father of the movement” and “a deeply religious man,” as one who wrote several books and articles “comparing law and religion.”
As for Baucham’s false assertion that CRT paints whites as being “incapable of righteous actions on race,” Delgado pointed to several white individuals who disprove the peculiar claim, including his own wife, and the white legal scholar Alan Freeman, “one of the earliest, and best, of the race-crits.”
He noted that “[m]any of the early abolitionists were white, as were many of the Freedom Riders, Mississippi Summer volunteers” and that “[h]istorian Peter Irons, author of Justice at War, was the one who uncovered the military’s lies that led to Japanese WWII internment and an apology and reparations to the victims of it.”
In the RNS report, Salem Books publisher Tim Peterson defended Baucham and denied that the Christian leader had fabricated quotes or plagiarized sources in Fault Lines.
“If we determine that there is a genuine need for correction or clarification we will do so in the next printing and issue an errata document accordingly,” Peterson told RNS.