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The Logic of DEI: “It’s like 2 plus 2 equals fish”

Last week, Rigel and I discussed all things artificial intelligence (AI). We touched on the poison of the pornography industry, the (continuing) assault on truth that prevails in our secular societies, the pros and cons for students and teachers of ChatGPT and similar AI-tech, and Christian concerns about what AI means for us as we strive to love our neighbors. We will be coming back to the topic of AI again!


This week, we turn to the ideology of diversity, equity and inclusion (“DEI”), a loaded and relevant topic for Christians working and studying in the secular world. Just recently, the Department of DEI at a large organization I’m familiar with sent an email (which I got my hands on) to all members of staff in which the organization’s Associate VP of DEI stated:


“[DEI] is an imperative for any democratic society because it centres the experiences and voices of all community members.... [It is] a gift of humanity we give to each other just because we all need structural barriers removed, our diversity represented in the workplace....”


Imperative for any democratic society? A gift of humanity? Wow. High praise.


Which solicits the question: is DEI consistent with Christianity?


I will refashion “DEI” to “DIE” (😊) for the rest of this blog entry, which is the first in a series addressing DIE and the related ideologies of wokeism and progressivism from a Christian perspective. Expect more DIE-debunking in the future!


To start, I want to draw the reader’s attention to a line from the 2015 film The Big Short (based on Michael Lewis’s 2010 book of the same name). As the world’s financial system starts to implode, a character in the film expresses his incredulousness at the logic he is observing: “It’s like 2 plus 2 equals fish!” That is the logic of DIE.


According to the work of Dr. Matthew Petrusek (a specialist in philosophy, Christian theology, Christian ethics, and social issues), the DIE formulation speaks to a hierarchical relationship among the concepts:

  • DIVERSITY: There are many differences among human beings that are either capable of being externally perceived (e.g., race, age, biological sex, accent, etc.) or able to be known by self-disclosure (e.g., sexual attraction, country of origin, religion, socio-economic status, etc.). These constitute the foundational fact that inclusion and equity respond to. 

  • INCLUSION: Diversity describes an alleged moral problem DIE advocates argue must be addressed. Inclusion is the purported solution: the goal of every community should be to include “diversities” and maximize (certain kinds of) diversity. 

  • EQUITY: Inclusion describes what to do with the problem of diversity (i.e., include it), and equity describes both how (i.e., the means) and the standard that defines the maximally inclusive community. To be maximally inclusive, every community should ensure power distribution and benefits (i.e., the ends) be equalized among the community’s forms of diversity so no group enjoys more than any other. The metric for determining this distribution is connected directly to group members’ external or internal diversities (as described above). 

 

As Petrusek notes, for the DIE ideology:


“[T]he goal of every community—whether it be an academic department, a factory floor, a corporate board, a pod of software coders, or a platoon of soldiers—is to maximize the inclusion of diversity within the community. The test whether the community is attaining this goal is whether... it is distributing power and benefits equally among the forms of diversities included within the community.” 


In theory, DIE promotes fair treatment and participation of all people.


In practice, DIE promotes corporate or academic supported bigotry.


DIE is a mechanism for forcing specific progressive social, cultural and moral ideologies, complete with a vocabulary of prohibited and permitted words and normative moral and political principles.


DIE seeks to address past injustices by promoting new ones, as if new evil undoes past evil.


DIE is profoundly anti-Christian and deeply unjust. Despite its name, it ultimately reduces diversity (of values and views, for example) and supports the exclusion of certain peoples (based on skin color and religious beliefs, for example).


And whatever arguments DIE advocates give for their intended good, Christianity teaches that ends don’t justify means. Ever. As Octavio Esqueda of Biola University explains, from the perspective of Christian ethics “both the end and the means must always be pure and reflect the values of Christ.” And from the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s section on human morality (1753):


“A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means. Thus the condemnation of an innocent person cannot be justified as a legitimate means of saving the nation.”


The aims (i.e., the ends) of DIE advocates are understandable. Bishop Robert Barron acknowledges there are obvious respects in which diversity, inclusion and equity can be good. But that does not change either the evil inherent in their pursuit (i.e., the means) or how antithetical they are to Christianity when treated as absolutes. In God In The Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, C. S. Lewis wrote:


“You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first.... Put first things first, and second things are thrown in. Put second things first, and you lose both first and second things.”


Consider this in tandem with Christ’s words in the Gospel of Matthew (6:31-33):


“So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”


We must put God’s righteousness and God’s kingdom (i.e., first things) first. Then and only then will “second things” fall into place. Diversity, inclusion and equity are second things. Putting them first makes grievances into idols. This is clearly anti-Christian. The only path to human dignity is putting God first.


Furthermore, DIE is premised on creating division and blaming those who often have zero culpability for what they’re blamed for. DIE hinges on a victim versus victimizer worldview, which is antithetical to a Christian emphasis on forgiveness. As Petrusek explains, DIE:


“[N]eeds one simplified form of oppression and privilege that it can use to determine which forms of diversity are valid (and thus deserve inclusion and equitable resource distribution) and which forms of diversity are not valid and, therefore, can be safely excluded from the community and its full benefits. [It] needs a “them” (the menacing other) to have a fixed foil against which to define the “us” (the diverse, inclusive community). And which collection of individuals fits that criterion for [DIE]? White, heterosexual (more broadly non-“queer”), able-bodied, Christian males.”


So basically me. I’m a white, heterosexual, able-bodied Christian male. I’m the oppressor.


DIE policies consolidate all allegedly unjust power and privilege into this single racial, gender, and religious group. Whether I have ever acted unjustly towards a member of any other group or enjoyed any actual benefits specifically due to my “privilege” is irrelevant.  


Think about that. Then look up definitions of “racism” and “sexism.” 


DIE is overtly racist and sexist in practice. Well, it is more than that. But it is no less than that.


This does not necessitate that DIE advocates themselves are racist or sexist! Most simply don’t understand the logical consequences of the ideology. This is also true for many people with religious beliefs. When confronted with uncomfortable truths and logical explanations of what their ideology necessitates, most experience cognitive dissonance on a deep level. I have yet to meet a DIE advocate who can coherently explain DIE without talking themselves into contradictions and/or moral relativism, which as we’ve discussed previously is nonsense.


So what are Christians to make of DIE?


As theoretical chemist and Christian apologist Neil Shenvi has argued


“[M]ost [DIE] programs are rooted in contemporary critical theory, a deeply unbiblical ideology that Christians must reject. This fundamentally unbiblical understanding of ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ is so ubiquitous that I’m not very comfortable with Christians even using the phrase ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.’”


As professor at St. Norbert College Wolfgang Grassl has argued:


“The frantic quest for ‘diversity’ is a deeply anti-Catholic impulse. It finds no support in Catholic moral and social teaching. There is no mention of diversity as a goal of Catholic life in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or in any of the pastoral, moral, or social constitutions and encyclicals before and after Vatican II. Diversity has never been advocated by the great thinkers of the Church, who have instead preached unity. And there is a good reason for this glaring absence: Catholics marvel at the natural diversity of God’s Creation, at the difference in people, animals, landscapes, plants, and languages. They want to preserve as much of this diversity as is possible, because it enriches all of us. But they will resist disturbing the order God has willed for the world.”

 

And, finally, as Petrusek notes:


“In the end, [DIE] violates the values of universal human dignity and moral equality, no matter what one’s race, ethnicity, sex, religion, or country of origin. Standing up against this ideology is not to deny the existence of present-day unjust discrimination or reject that past unjust discrimination contributes to current economic and opportunity deficits for some groups. To rebuff [DIE], rather, is simply to embrace this most basic principle of justice: no one should be punished or rewarded in the workplace for anything other than their personal actions and on-the-job performance. Anything else entails sheer prejudice.” 


DIE will die, I’m convinced of that. Anything built on logic akin to “2 plus 2 equals fish” is bound to collapse. Eventually.


Plus, there are Christian alternatives to whatever good aims exist in the DIE ideology. Alternatives grounded in truth, love and logic. These alternatives are not political movements and this post does not endorse any political position, party or philosophy (many of which are simply Godless substitutes for DIE’s political proponents). Christians are called to emulate Christ and take His love and light to the world, including when we confront ideologies such as DIE. We must, challenging as it might be at times, engage with DIE advocates drawing on the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.


This is what Rigel and I discuss on this week’s episode!


God bless you,


Travis


P.S. I recommend the work of Dr. Matthew Petrusek on this topic. It is easy-to-read.

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