Over the summer, Voddie Baucham’s anti-Critical Race Theory book Fault Lines became a bestseller on the religion charts, prompting both acclaim and criticism for its warning that Critical Race Theory is smuggling unbiblical ideas into the Church like a trojan horse. Baucham is a former pastor and seminary dean, so his theory that protests following George Floyd’s death were being used to manufacture a “looming catastrophe” in the evangelical church were taken very seriously.
But now, Baucham and his book have come under criticism for accusations of plagiarism and quotes that are either misleading or outright fabricated. Tim Peterson, the publisher at Salem Books, told Religion News Service that the accusations are “unfounded.”
In Fault Lines, Baucham refers to the work of law professor Richard Delgado extensively. Delgado is one of the architects of Critical Race Theory, a field of legal study that sees society in striations of power and argues that race has historically been a primary factor in the sorting of people into those striations. It’s a complex field of scholarship that has become hugely controversial in the U.S. for reasons both real and perceived, and Baucham’s book has been an important resource for CRT critics.
But according to author and blogger Joel McDurmon, it’s a flawed resource. He points to one portion of Fault Lines in which Baucham says he’s quoting Delgado. The quoted portion reads: “Racism advances the interests of both 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.”
That last sentence was italicized in Fault Lines. There’s just one problem, according to McDurmon: Delgado never said it. In fact, he says Delgado has never used the phrase “righteous actions” in any of his writing.
VODDIE USES FALSE QUOTES and PLAGIARIZES
1) Not only has Voddie Baucham attributed false quotations, but he has both done so repeatedly and it appears he plagiarized some of the material he included.
This is not acceptable. https://t.co/dTVvQ4lmPJ
— Lambs Reign (@LambsReign) July 30, 2021
McDurmon also writes that Baucham lifted material from his fellow anti-CRT actvist James Lindsay, an atheist who has gained a large Christian following for his CRT blasting.
According to McDurmon, Baucham spends much of the book going out of his way to paint CRT and its advocates in a deliberately bad light. “There’s this very loose respect paid to what the sources actually say and mean,” McDurmon told Bob Smietana at Religion News Service. “And there’s this readiness to take them in the most sinister way possible.”
Peterson told Religion News Service that McDurmon’s argument was “weak” and that the quotation snafu was a formatting issue, with Baucham’s own commentary added to the quoted Delgado portion in the Chicago Manual of of Style format rather than an academic format. “It is common for academics to write both popular-level works and academic works and use different documentation styles accordingly,” Peterson statement read. “It is unreasonable for McDurmon to demand academic documentation in a popular work and it undermines his overall critique of Baucham’s assessment of Critical Race Theory.”
CRT has been a flashpoint for controversy, though its critics have tended to either deliberately or unknowingly inflate this obscure corner of academic study with a lot of excess bogeymen and moral panic. In 2020, the presidents of all six Southern Baptist seminaries in the U.S. wrote a joint letter condemning CRT as “incompatible with the Baptist Faith and Message.” That generated a firestorm of controversy, not least because of the fact that all six presidents are White. Several prominent Black pastors left the Southern Baptist Convention in the wake of the letter. In January, the Council of Seminary Presidents released an apology, saying they all regretted “the pain and confusion that resulted from a lack of prior dialogue.”
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.