To Be Woke Is To Be a Good Christian

As a theologian, I’ve often found the “anti-woke” political crusades puzzling, particularly as the same politicians who champion them simultaneously celebrate their devotion to Jesus. After all, “woke” is a term used to symbolize an awareness of social injustices and a commitment to combating them.

What is the standard by which God judges? St. Paul wrote that Christians will be judged by whether or not they follow one commandment: “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:9-10).”

Saint Paul the Apostle encouraged the Romans to wake from their sleep before reminding them not to judge one another because each person is accountable to God alone (Romans 13:11-14:13). What is the standard by which God judges? St. Paul wrote that Christians will be judged by whether or not they follow one commandment: “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:9-10).”

The precept “you shall love thy neighbor” was first cited in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18), and the same principle has been historically advocated by almost every religion. As people of faith, then, wherever we see injustice, we are called to love, and to listen – to be awake to all people who are being treated unfairly. Yet, across the nation, a troubling surge of laws and policies under the rubric of the “anti-woke” movement are targeting LGBTQ+ children, youth and families, neighbors whom Christ instructs us to love.

Politicians in 13 states have succeeded in promulgating legislation and policy changes that would enshrine a “license to discriminate” into law and ultimately deprive children in the foster system of safe, loving homes. They are advancing policies that stoke partisan tensions and prioritize hatred of “the other” over the well-being of children.

Can we say that discriminating against same-sex couples, as well as people who do not pass an arbitrary religious litmus test, in order to prevent them from adopting or fostering children, does no harm?

Look at Texas, where taxpayer-funded adoption agencies have the right to discriminate against LGBTQ+ couples seeking to adopt children. Such policies are in stark contrast to the values and teachings of Christ. Can we say that discriminating against same-sex couples, as well as people who do not pass an arbitrary religious litmus test, in order to prevent them from adopting or fostering children, does no harm? There is already a shortage of families willing to care for children, including LGBTQ+ children and youth, who are overrepresented in foster systems and disproportionately placed in institutions and group facilities where they suffer abuse at twice the rate of children living in a home.

Do laws restricting discussion of gender identity and sexual preferences reflect love for our neighbors? Does removing children from their homes if their families choose to provide them with gender-affirming care reflect love for our neighbors? Pope John Paul II said that the question Christians should ask is not, “Who is my neighbor?” but rather, “To whom should I become a neighbor?” The Pope’s answer was that Christians must become neighbors to anyone in need.

Those who reject the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves and refuse to recognize the ongoing presence of injustice also reject Christ. They claim the mantle of Christianity, but they do not wear it as intended. By being anti-woke, they reveal themselves to be anti-Christ.


C. Colt Anderson, Ph. D., is a church historian, theologian, and professor at Fordham University. He is also a member of the Interfaith Coalition for Children’s Rights.