The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Monday, February 27, 2023

It’s Monday, February 27, 2023.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Identity Politics Spreads Like a Wildfire Through the Cultural Elites: DEI Ideology and Its Effects on Higher Education

One of the big developments on the American college and university campus are so-called DEI statements, and we’ve referred to them before as the problem of the diversity, equity and inclusion statements. But what we need to note is that a significant turn is now taking place where those statements are now not just what the university or the college declares, troublingly enough, about its own commitments, but the commitments that it requires of those who will take part in the university, who will be students in one sense, but even more importantly right now, who will be faculty members.

So even The Economist in London, and let’s just remember, this is not a conservative source and is not coming from a conservative society and a country in Britain that isn’t touched by the same kind of agendas and DEI and all the rest, multiculturalism as it was known in the last generation.

But what you have here is a sounding of an alarm by The Economist of London saying, “Look, what is taking place is the corruption of American higher education, and also, the ideological purification or standardization of American higher education in such a way that the faculties will be made up of and only of the most incredibly-progressive ideological professors who can be found.” It’s because these DEI statements are now being required of applicants for jobs.

So as the article begins, it tells us about, no great surprise here if you know any history, the University of California at Berkeley, which is, according to The Economist, currently advertising for a “a director of cell culture, fly food, media prep and on-call glass washing facilities.” Let me step back and say that is not really a faculty position, but it tells you a whole lot about the modern university.

It actually has a job description with the title director of cell culture, fly food, media prep and on-call glass washing facilities. Now we’re told this, “Applicants need an advanced degree and a decade of research experience and must submit a CV,” that’s a curriculum vitae or a resume, “a cover letter and a research statement. They must also send in a statement on their contributions to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Seemingly everyone, this director, the next head of preservation for the library, anyone who dreams of a tenured professorship, must file a statement outlining their understanding of diversity, their past contributions to increasing it and their plans, and here are the magazine quotes, the Berkeley policy, “For advancing equity and inclusion if hired,” end quote. Now let me just back up and say we’ve been talking about this for a long time and one of the things we’ve been looking at over years on The Briefing is how social and moral change takes place.

We talked about the fact that access to elite institutions is one of the ways that you have progressives basically coerced the society to go in their direction because if you can control access to elite institutions, then you can to a considerable degree determine the outcome of the culture because you’re basically putting yourself in the position of having your hand on the faucet and you decide whether the faucet’s going to be turned on or off, or you might say which faucet would be turned on and which has never turned on at all. You have the power of ideological coercion, and that’s exactly what’s taking place here.

Now I want to step back and say that The Economist is alarmed about this because it is alarmed about the present ideological state of the American university and even more so the future ideological state, but I want to say that the situation’s already much worse than The Economist seems to assume here.

The situation is that for the last 40 years, the American elite academy that is universities and colleges, that world has been moving in such a progressivist direction that is virtually impossible to describe it without sounding hysterical. That is actually where we are. We’re in a situation in which, and by the way, just to give you one example, if you look at recent presidential campaigns, one of the interesting things is that contributions to political campaigns eventually become a matter of public record, and so you can work backwards.

You can look at the names, you can go to say, a university town, you can take the names and the contributor list to say Democratic and Republican candidates. Even as we talked about on The Briefing in a report from the 2020 presidential election, you’re looking at the fact that the donations coming from faculties in these elite universities are not just overwhelmingly Democratic and thus, liberal. They are almost exclusively so in some cases. When you look at the partisan identification department by department, the reality is that even in the so-called hard sciences, you have an ideological process of liberal conformity that is taking place.

Now, you might say that shouldn’t have anything to do with someone who is say, studying fruit flies, but yes it does because the ideological march through the institutions will never be concluded until even the study of fruit flies is made a matter of ideological conformity. The report in The Economist states this, “Not long ago, such statements,” that means these DEI statements, “were exotic in a marginal importance. Now they are de rigueur.” That is to say they’re required across most of the University of California system for hiring and tenure decisions, “Studies claim that as many as one in five faculty jobs across America require them and government agencies that fund scientific research are starting to make grants to labs conditional upon their diversity metrics and plans.”

Now this is really a massive report in The Economist. It goes on page after page, but the point is it is just evidence piled upon evidence of the fact that this ideological poison is indeed spreading throughout not only elite culture but elite higher education.

Here’s the point. It’s not just that there are administrators and faculty members holding to this kind of ideology, it is that they are hiring only those who agree with themselves, period. They are just replicating themselves, period. That’s all that’s going on.

Now, I simply want to drop in a footnote here. The other thing that is happening is that they end up hiring people who are even more progressive and liberal than themselves. So you have the people who are hiring the young even more progressives who eventually are opposed, because that’s the way progressivism works, by the very people they brought into the process and hired. This is a situation in which it’s not so much the crocodile eating its young, as the young eating the crocodile.

Now you look at the arguments that are presented here, and to the credit of The Economist, they try to bring both sides of the argument. The argument for these DEI statements, “Advocates see no conflict between DEI and academic excellence.”

“It’s hard to imagine being a good teacher if you don’t know how to actively engage all students,” said Sharon Inkelas, an associate vice provost at Berkeley. The paper goes on, “Nor is it a matter of political belief.” These statements are, “Descriptions of things that people have done that have enabled them to be successful in the classroom,” says Professor Inkelas. Well, if you believe that, I’ve got a car to sell you.

The reality is that that’s the kind of statement that can only be made by someone who knows what is taking place is virtually the opposite of what they’re saying because you have the claim here number one, that identity politics is just about getting to know students and actively engaging them, but that’s not it at all. When you look at the actual shape of these DEI statements, and I mean by that the institutional statements and expectations and policies and then the DEI statements they require, know it requires affirming everything that a student may claim about himself or herself.

As you know, those are anachronistic terms, himself and herself, because the entire LGBTQ revolution and just about every expanding iteration of identity politics, you have to bake that into your cake or you’re not going to get the job. It’s also interesting that The Economist notes that in the state of California there is a legal prohibition against affirmative action statements. So these DEI statements are simply how there is now being a backdoor to that policy that will have the same effect. There is no one who will be hired who is not in absolute agreement with all the liberal pieties, no one. Now something else we discussed is that you have those three words, diversity, equity, and inclusion. By the way, those may last for some time or they may not because this is a fast-changing vocabulary, but right now, it’s kind of the standardization diversity, you can figure that out. But this means mandated tracked, metrically-evaluated diversity.

One of the things that’s showing up in the headlines these days, by the way, is the fact that in some schools, and we’ll talk about this in coming days, so-called advanced learning or gifted programs, advanced tracks or college track programs are being abandoned, but simply because they can’t meet the metrics, and you have the metrics basically killing the programs. So if you don’t have adequate metrics, then you can’t improve the program in that sense we’re told, so you just have to eliminate it. So that tells you a great deal about how that’s working.

Now, as Christians, we’d understand the diversity can be a good thing. It’s not just in the case of the word a bad thing. That’s not the case when it comes to equity in terms of how it’s being used, but diversity can be a good thing, but it has to be defined, and it is not an unlimited good thing. Now, no one’s going to say, “We need to have an adequate number of, say, well, you could talk about criminals or anything.” You could just say, “We don’t want that, that’s irrational.”

But on the other hand, some of the markers of identity politics are increasingly irrational as well. Furthermore, if you’re going to define diversity as your main goal, and once you bring it in this way, that’s pretty much inevitably what happens. Then eventually, you have to reshape everything according to whatever you have established as an adequate analytic or metric of diversity. Of course, you are then running the institution primarily by diversity. So in other words, Christians can use the word diversity in an appropriate sense, but we also have to recognize that when it’s used this way, it actually means something that I think most of us would feel is inappropriate and certainly, incompatible with the mission of a modern university in terms of academic excellence.

But there’s more here. You also have the reality that the word equity is the second in line. In this case, it’s not the word equality, it is the word equity, and this is a major change on the left. It is a shift from the language of equality, including equality of opportunity to equity, which means equality of outcome.

That means you have to do whatever’s necessary in order to choose which identity groups are going to be identified by identity politics, and then you’ll assign a metric and then you’re going to have to do whatever it takes in order to get there, in order to acknowledge equity.

But of course, here’s something else. Equity is one of those goals that will never be achieved, and that is because number one, it’s going to be impossible, but number two, you’re looking at a reality that is always changing. So one of the things we as Christians understand is that we should be for equality in all the right biblical sense. We should be for equality of opportunity. Certainly, when you are looking at say, racial and ethnic groups, we should be striving for equality of opportunity. But once you use the word equity, it becomes an ideological tool by which you can reshape the entire society and by the way, towards a goal that will never be reached.

Part II

DEI Requirements Are Coming to a University Near You — Yes, Even To You, Texas

But next, the word inclusion, well, you can see why that’s tied to diversity and equity and inclusion, but the word inclusion in this sense, well, it comes with a very clear agenda, and that agenda includes other letters such as LGBTQ. By the way, this once again is one of the lamentable effects of identity politics. The moment you begin to identify persons primarily by some form of identity that establishes a distinction, one human being from another, and, of course, they’re biological distinctions.

Christians understand that fundamentally there are age distinctions. There’s a difference between a child and an adult. There’s a difference between a male and a female. But when it comes to inclusion, well, we understand that identity politics is breaking everyone down into identity groups and special interests. Once you do that, of course, that’s never stopping by the way, because you have the constant fracturing of this identity group in another identity group.

One of the most interesting conversations in the mainstream media over the last week is the division between those who want to identify as Hispanic, Mesoamerican, Latino, and those who want to use the especially ideologically latent term Latinx, which intentionally includes non-binary persons of Hispanic or Latino background.

The point is, when you’re looking at these identity groups, they begin to split into other identity groups, and that’s not just true in the Spanish-speaking context. It’s true in every context because the ideology of DEI when it gets to I is not really about inclusion, it’s about diffusion, but it’s also about forcing a moral agenda, especially when it comes to LGBTQIA+, and you know what that plus sign means, inclusion on those terms.

Now, it’s interesting that what The Economist is talking about is the requirement of professors or those who would be professors who would want to be hired for faculty positions being required to offer these DEI statements and to do so in writing as part of their application or they’re not going to be considered at all.

But you know what this means. This means that people are going to just be able to go through all these DEI statements and say, “Nope, not progressive enough. Nope, not progressive enough. Nope, not enough on LGBTQ. Not enough on T, not enough on non-binary.” Or they’re going to say, “We already have documented evidence of this, that this person does not have an adequate track record in advocacy and allyship.” That’s the language that’s being used. Well, that means that you are just unlikely to have any real shot at being hired in any of these positions.

Now, as a conservative, I want to say in the United States, that’s not new, but DEI gives a new tool, which in a state like California is supposedly passing some kind of constitutional muster, whereas, other approaches might not, like affirmative action. So what you have here is basically the intentional intellectual cleansing of American higher education from anyone who might be even remotely conservative or confessionally Christian.

Now, I want to tell you what comes next in this, and I don’t mean to say this just as some kind of prophet of doom because this is not about doom. It’s about being aware. The next step is that you’re going to see in graduate schools the same kind of requirement for those who are applying to be students, those who would apply to admission to medical school or law school or other professional schools. You say, “Well, that’s probably a long way off.” Well, it’s not.

Right now in places like Canada and just understand this is a virus in terms of this approach that is likely to show up just about everywhere, and it’s going to skip from the faculty positions and the administrative positions to the student applications for graduate and professional programs. Before long, you’re going to have 17-year-olds told that if you’re going to fill out an application to this prestigious university, you better have your DEI statement ready.

That gets to another thing, which is these elite institutions have now basically created an admissions process whereby students from wealthy families are aligning their entire adolescence towards admission to these universities, getting the right kind of experience. Plenty of articles even in the mainstream media and even in the professional journals of higher education about the supposed now inequity of students from wealthy families being able to pad their resumes and applications with the experience of going to help say, feed people in a foreign country because their parents had the ability to send them to the foreign country in order to feed people, in order to come back and report that on their application to Stanford.

That’s why, as I mentioned, Christians must be concerned about justice. That’s the biblical category, justice. It’s not simple, but there is simply no way to avoid our responsibility to the biblical command of justice. But when you’re looking at categories such as equity, as I said, they can never be satisfied. By the way, the Christian worldview tells us that God’s justice will be fully satisfied.

That’s going to be way beyond equity and the problem of equity, I’ll just repeat this, is that it’s never going to be reached because once you get even close to some kind of agreement that we’re almost going to reach that, well, then identity politics is going to come in and dissolve the situation even further, and you’re going to discover you are right back where you started. That’s why there’s now an entire industry of consultants and others, DEI has now become an industry, inevitably so. By the way, it’s an industry that is undoubtedly anti-capitalist, but keep those billings coming.

It is really interesting, by the way, that a conservative response found in The Economist article comes from a professor, Janet Halley, a professor of law at Harvard who said, “I think it’s a fad.” She went on to say that Bureaucratizing ideology saps sincerity, The Economist quotes her as saying, “People will utter the hocus- pocus. They know that they’re being required to put on an act, and that’s going to create cynicism about the very values that the people who put these requirements into place are about. If those contradictions don’t sink the projects,” says The Economist, “the courts might.” Professor Halley “believes these innovations are forced speech and viewpoint discrimination in the First Amendment context and will lead DEI dissidents to file lawsuits.” The professor said, “With the increasing conservatism of the federal bench, I think they’re likely to win.” Well, on that score, we can only say we hope so.

But when it comes to those applying for faculty positions right now in these elite, secular and private and public institutions, the reality is it’s already too late to stop the damage from happening. I just want to state again, let’s understand the problem was already there. The liberal faculty was already liberal. The percentages between liberals and conservatives were already so outweighted, there are entire departments and colleges where it’s almost impossible to find a single conservative, or at least a conservative who is public in that conservatism.

Now, I want a shift from The Economist to The Wall Street Journal in order to make a point that will irritate Texans.

You might think that this toxin is somehow limited to University of California at Berkeley or they’re on the West Coast, you might say it’s limited to the coastal context as we often point out, far more liberal, far more secular. So you expect this at perhaps University of Pennsylvania, the Ivy League, Harvard, Yale. But as the article in The Wall Street Journal written by John D. Sailer points out, diversity policing even in the sciences is now showing up not only in departments in the so-called hard disciplines like science, but also, at places like Texas Tech University.

Sailer writes, “At Texas Tech University, a candidate for a faculty job, and the Department of Biological Sciences was flagged by the department search committee for not knowing the difference between equality and equity. Another was flagged for his repeated use of the pronoun He when referring to professors, still another was praised for having made a land acknowledgement during the interview process.” A land acknowledgement, just in case you don’t know what it is, the Wall Street Journal tells us, “this is a statement noting that Native Americans once lived in what is now the United States.”

So let’s just get this straight. In order to apply for a job in the hard sciences at Texas Tech University, it is to your advantage to include with your application a land statement or a land acknowledgement. Sailer goes on, “Amidst the explosion of university diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, Texas Tech’s Biology Department has adopted its own DEI motion promising to ‘require and strongly weight a diversity statement from all candidates.'”

Now again, we’re talking about Texas Tech University. We’re talking about Lubbock, Texas. Now, one of the things we’ve been talking about is the fact that when you look at how elite institutions basically shape the culture, they begin to shape the culture from coast to coast because here’s the bottom line, Texas Tech University truth be known, or at least the faculty and likely the administrators at Texas Tech University, they care far more about what the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley thinks than about the actual citizens there in Texas who are paying many of the bills.

Information obtained under the Open Records Act there in Texas revealed that one candidate from a Texas Tech search committee process was turned down because the candidate espoused race neutrality in teaching. In other words, saying that he intended to be race neutral was disqualifying because it runs into conflict with the DEI commitments of the university. Sailer concludes with these words, “The evidence shows that diversity statements function as political litmus tests, but it’s worse than that.”

He goes on, “Heavily valuing DEI while selecting cell biologists, virologist and immunologist constitutes a massive failure of priority. This is an issue of academic freedom and it is an issue of the degradation of higher education.” Indeed, it is absolutely a degradation of higher education. One of the things we’re going to watch on The Briefing, by the way, is the way these issues are now lining out in the larger worldview conflict in our society, because this has a great deal to do with what America is going to look like and what Americans are going to think and believe in years to come.

Part III

A Parable of the Revolving Chairs in the Institutional Elites of Our Culture: Jen Psaki Heads to MSNBC As Anchor Chair

But I want to close with another story that tells us a great deal about where our culture is going and how the culture operates. In this case, the headlines in The New York Times, and it’s a media story, “Jen Psaki to take an MSNBC anchor chair.”

Now that’s really interesting. Jen Psaki was of course, the very, very eager spokesperson for the White House early in the administration of President Joe Biden. Jen Psaki saw herself as a staunch defender, a President Biden and his policies, and by staunch, I mean staunch, and I’ll just say exchanges that were very energetic between Jen Psaki when she stood behind the podium and the White House press room and particularly conservative journalists and reporters for conservative outlets. It was hot. It’s not a surprise she’s going to show up as an anchor on MSNBC and in a very highly prioritized new program.

But what I want to point out here is not so much that Jen Psaki has this job, I’m not even going to criticize MSNBC for hiring her. That’s MSNBC’s right as a corporate entity, and it’s right to be as liberal as it wants to be, and then for American viewers to decide whether they want to watch it or not. But when it comes to the big picture here, what we need to see is how the culture works, and we need to see the amount of interplay between the media elites and the political elites.

Now, that’s true across the board to a very limited extent because when you talk about conservative elites, political elites and media elites, it’s not the same thing as talking about the liberal, more Democratically identified political elites and media elites, because when you’re talking about more liberal media elites, you’re talking about the old mainstream media, largely CBS, ABC, NBC, sadly enough, and to my constant irritation, National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting service, and of course, you’re looking at MSNBC.

You’re looking at the fact that the liberal news ecology is just vast and it is institutional, and those two words belong together, institutional and elite. The point is you have people moving around and add to that the business elites, and when you look at the Treasury Department, you look at the Department of State, you look at just about every federal department and federal agency, there are people come in and out of higher academia. You have people come in and out to big business, especially more liberal boardrooms and corporate suites.

You have people come in and out of government and in and out of the media. It is something of a revolving door. By the way, there’s some ethical questions here having to do with how government officials basically make themselves available for more lucrative media and corporate jobs while they are in public service. But of course, that’s a problem that can happen on the right and on the left. But the point here is watching how elites work.

Now, on the conservative side, it works a little bit differently because in the conservative media ecology, there’s certain corporations and institutions, think of Fox News, for example, and a few others as well in one sense, you could talk about The Wall Street Journal and other mainstream media that at least have conservatives working there and often take editorial at least sometimes conservative positions.

But by and large, the conservative media ecology is a distributed ecology. It has a lot to do with new opportunities and technologies that have come by, especially digital technologies. Although conservatives always worked to this way, one of the ways that conservatives went around the mainstream media in the past was by buying first of all, lower power radio stations and then by buying lower power, lower equity television stations, and then building them up and then taking advantage of, first of all, the cable revolution, which basically transformed the conservative media ecology.

But the point is this, when you are looking at this interplay, you do have this revolving door, and that has a great deal to do with why and how the more culturally progressive worldview just gets replicated across America. It is because at the elite levels, that revolving door really does work, the White House today at MSNBC tomorrow, and who knows at a corporate suite there in Manhattan, just a matter of months or years from now.

So I’m not suggesting today that there is any way that you and I can stop the revolving door, but at least it’s important that we understand that when it comes to the vast changes in our culture, some of them are produced by those revolving doors.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information about The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information about Boyce College, just go to

Today, I am in Orange County, California, and I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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