At this year’s Master’s University Commencement, John MacArthur warned the students that they were graduating into a world where the 9th commandment will be the front lines of our culture’s attack on the gospel. This week, Loudoun County School Board gave a perfect illustration of what he meant when they suspended a teacher for saying “I love my students too much to lie to them.”
When I first heard that the teacher, Tanner Cross, was suspended for this, I assumed that he probably had a “transgender” student in his class and he refused to call the student by his/her preferred name, or something like that. But the truth is even more benign.
First the background: Loudoun County is in Northern Virginia and is a suburb of Washington, DC. Many people from the church I pastor live there, and some work in the schools there. Years ago, Loudoun County fell into Critical Race Theory (CRT) quicksand, and the school board has been both unable and unwilling to extract themselves ever since.
Here is how it started (as chronicled by The Federalist): At the urging of activists, some schools adopted CRT curriculum. Despite being known as “anti-racism” material, the content of it is in fact quite racist. When the NAACP found out about some of the activities in this “anti-racism” material—particularly a game where students re-enact the Underground Railroad—they filed a complaint with the Virginia government. The school district responded to the complaint by hiring a CRT consultant (for $500,000!!!), who determined that, yes, Loudoun County Schools have a culture of racism, and what is needed is more CRT training.
You really do need to appreciate the irony. On the one hand, the local NAACP president was correct when she called the CRT curriculum “sickening and racist.” On the other hand, the state-imposed consequence of that racism is mandating more of the same. It is as absurd as it is circular.
That leads to what happened last week. As part of the compliance agreement reached with the state, the school needed new comprehensive policies concerning “equity,” and is in the process of adapting those policies particularly concerning LGBTQ students. One of the policies says “staff shall allow gender expansive or transgender students to use their chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence.”
If you were a Christian teacher in Loudoun Schools, what would you do? Keep in mind, this is a draft policy, and it will apply to elementary school (!) teachers. What Tanner Cross did was make an appeal directly to the school board. He went to a school board meeting—a meeting that was ostensibly to receive feedback on their proposed policy—and told them that because he serves God first and students second, “I will not affirm that a biological boy can be a girl, and vice versa, because it is against my religion, it’s lying to a child, it’s abuse to a child and it’s sinning against our God.”
That’s it. That’s what he said. You can see a video of it for yourself. He didn’t say this in class, and he didn’t say it to a student. He said it to the school board while they were debating adopting a policy that would require him to violate sincerely held religious beliefs—oh, and also that would require him to violate the 9th commandment and lie to his students. For that, the school board suspended him, and issued a no trespass order, banning him from all school grounds.
Ironically, the school board’s action is in violation of the compliance agreement reached with the state going back to the “underground railroad” game. Part of that compliance agreement stated that the school would seek policies to “eliminate patterns and practices of discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, and religion in its local school division, and to prevent such acts in the future.” Cross’s suspension makes me agree with the NAACP—Loudoun County schools has a serious discrimination problem.
This suspension is a preview of what is likely coming nationwide. Remember the battles over same sex marriage a decade ago? That cultural dispute didn’t mean that every Christian church would be sued, or that every Christian baker or photographer would be hauled into court—it just meant that every church or Christian baker or believing florist should be willing to. God in his providence spared some, while others were sued multiple times. The same will likely be true here. This doesn’t mean that every Christian school teacher will be called to take a stand, but that all should be willing to.
Obviously it is wrong to make a personnel policy that compels teachers to lie to their students. The fact that this seems reasonable to school boards shows how little they value truth and the extent to which they have embraced absurdity as a world view.
In that same commencement address, MacArthur told the students that as they enter a world that will use everything at its disposal to get them to violate the ninth commandment, they should rejoice. As the world increasingly is hostile towards the notion of truth, the value of truth only increases, and the attractiveness of the gospel becomes even more apparent.
Cross may have been suspended and barred from schools, but he has put the truth on full display. One day some of those students who are being lied to by both their parents and teachers will be old enough to remember who really told them the truth.