Because Antiracism is a definable ideology and new religion, rightly capitalizing it as a proper noun deprives Antiracism of its by-design rhetorical underpinning. In the language of Antiracism, simply being not racist is not enough.
Recently on Twitter, a Ph.D. student at a Southern Baptist seminary threw shade at Voddie Baucham’s upcoming book Fault Lines for many flaws such as “commitment to innuendo,” riling up a “populist mob,” and lacking integrity. He went so far as to criticize Baucham and his publisher for misspelling J.D. Greear’s name and “linking to the worst kinds of discernment bloggers” because “there’s money to be made.” I’m not going to give his academic snobbery the honor of a link or name drop. For what it’s worth, I have a PDF of Fault Lines (obtained at my own cost), and it’s clear that my copy is different from that of the Ph.D. student. J.D. Greear’s name is spelled correctly, the look of the page is different, and the footnote number that links to a discernment blogger (dun dun dun) per the student’s screenshot is different than what I have in my PDF copy. As it turns out, there’s this thing called an editing process where typographical errors get detected. I still found a few astounding typographical errors myself, such as replacing two hyphens in a YouTube URL with an em-dash and not capitalizing “Accordance,” a Bible software product. Both of these were in footnotes. Scandalous!
I have read 100 pages of Fault Lines so far, and I almost certainly will be endorsing it later on when I finish it. At this juncture, I’d like to do a little style nitpicking of my own. Put simply, it’s time to capitalize the word “Antiracism.”
Like That Kind of Cult?
As he opens the fourth chapter of Fault Lines, Baucham conveys his personal story of being a new believer and meeting a couple of cult members at his front door. After meeting them and feeling like they seemed “off,” he consulted with a couple of his mentors.
When I described my visitors, Max and Brent looked at each other, smiled, then turned to me and asked, “Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses?”
I had no idea what they were talking about. “How am I supposed to know?” I asked in all sincerity.
“Did they have name tags that identified them as ‘Elder So-and-So’?” Max asked.
I told him I hadn’t seen any name tags. They looked at each other again and said in unison, “They were Jehovah’s Witnesses!” and proceeded to warn me about the cultic theology of the JWs. I was astonished! I was also a bit disturbed. How many cults are there? How will I know them? Am I a part of one? [emphasis original]
He conveys how this experience drove him into studying theology deeply. And then, given the topic of this book, he drops the hammer.
That same passion has driven me to explore, analyze, and warn against yet another cult: the cult of antiracism.
Baucham doesn’t leave this parallel between Antiracism and Jehovah’s Witnesses empty; he goes on to explain that Antiracism has its own cosmology, original sin, law, gospel, martyrs, priests, means of atonement, new birth, liturgy, canon, theologians, and catechism. I’ll save explaining this in full for my review and to stay on topic here.
Proper or Common Noun?
Baucham himself is not the first to call Antiracism a religion. The first author he observed do so was John McWhorter, a linguist and professor at Columbia University. One of McWhorter’s writings which Baucham cites is entitled “Antiracism: Our Flawed New Religion.” He opens by explaining an old anthropology article from 1956 that satirically explains a people called the “Nacirema” (“American” spelled backward) as if anthropologists in lab coats were examining such a society from an academic distance.