Wheaton College Embraces ‘Woke’ Culture

Prominent Wheaton College in the USA embraces ‘woke’ culture

Wheaton College has a more pronounced theological conservatism than other Christian schools. It is considered as the “Harvard” of Christian education. However, it appears they’ve embraced wokeness by going along with certain left-liberal tenets as part of their identity.

1. Wheaton staff and alums offended by a plaque

In 2021, Wheaton College removed a 1957 plaque honoring Christian missionaries (three were alumni) because they used the word “savage” (which means barbaric) to refer to the Huaorani tribe with whom they shared the gospel.

The word “savage has become an offensive word

“Savage” was a common term in Western civilization until it became offensive after the Marxist-Atheist group Black Lives Matter protested in 2020.

The Huarani are indigenous from the Amazonian Region of Ecuador, different from other tribes. ‘Auca’ was the pejorative exonym used by its neighboring Quechua natives, which means savage.

wheaton plaque
In 2021, Wheaton College removed the plaque honoring Christian missionary alumni Edward McCully and James Elliot because they used the word “savage.”


2. One Wheaton

Wheaton also established a Sexual & Gender Identity Institute, which includes research, training, and consultation to understand sexual and gender identity within a Christian worldview.

In 2011, a Wheaton College chapel series explained the conflicts between Christianity and same-sex relationships. In response, ‘OneWheaton‘ emerged defiant of the school’s position.

They distributed a letter affirming the dignity of all individuals, including the LGBTQ. The independent group also affirms gay marriage.

Wheaton President Philip Ryken reiterated the college’s opposition to homosexual behavior. Still, despite the college’s stand, the group ‘OneWheaton’ continued to become a large network of LGBTQIA-allied alumni and students from Wheaton College.

Wheaton College has not officially endorsed OneWheaton or spoken against it.


3. Critical Race Theory in Wheaton College

Wheaton’s Faculty Council

In 2015, Wheaton College’s first tenured Black professor, Larycia Hawkins, faced backlash after posting a photo wearing a hijab in solidarity with Muslims. She also wrote that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, which is a common but false assumption.

Wheaton was forced to suspend the “woke professor.” However, Wheaton alums and students protested the suspension in support of Professor Hawkins.

Rev. Franklin Graham, whose father is highly regarded in the college, was deeply concerned when the Wheaton faculty council did not support Hawkin’s termination. [CP]

Cartagena and Jeske

Nathan Luis Cartagena is a critical race theorist and assistant professor of philosophy hired by Wheaton College. He believes that Christians who view “Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a danger to the gospel” create a challenge in teaching and learning.

Christine Jeske, Associate Professor of Anthropology, presented key points of CRT to students in a slide. For example, “Race is a concept that was created by white people to gain social and economic privileges” and “whiteness—A normative structure in society that marginalizes People of Color [Illinois Family]

Ed Stetzer and Philip Ryken

In 2018, Ed Stetzer, distinguished Chair of Wheaton College and author, opposed renowned Bible scholar John MacArthur’s position on churches’ role in social justice reform. MacArthur rejected the advocacy for the current narrative on racial justice, while Stetzer supported it through the series “White Fragility” in 2020. [CL; PP]

Christianity Today, where Stetzer is a contributor, has published articles that support Black Reparation.

Stetzer also criticizes former President Donald Trump, who polarized Christian leaders when he sought re-election in 2020. He lost, and the left-liberal President Joe Biden won. Biden promised to make abortion the law of the land, empower the LGBTQ community, and support Black Lives Matter.

In 2021, Wheaton President Philip Ryken was asked if the college teaches critical race theory (CRT), and he ultimately admitted yes, according to an article in Illinois Family Institute.

The same year, Ryken welcomed incoming first-year students, and his speech touched on racial issues and white privilege. It made some parents feel uncomfortable. It was inappropriate and irrelevant, some parents of Asian students said.

Perpetuating tribalism

In Wheaton College, Black History Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Months are celebrated. However, for others, celebrating minority status causes more racial divisions.

Dinesh D’Souza, a critic of former President Obama, popularized “modern tribalism” by emphasizing cultural and ethnic differences over national unity in political discourse. Historian Victor Davis Hanson argues that “tribalism” promotes identity politics, causing more racial divisions rather than a united front.

Woke universities

Formerly conservative Christian colleges and Ivy League institutions, Calvin, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, and Princeton Universities have adopted woke ideologies. They’ve incorporated social justice and LGBTQ+ advocacies into their campuses and curriculum.

Wheaton College remains mostly apart from these woke ideas, but the same cannot be said with a growing number of alums and students who stand against the tenets of conservative Christianity.


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  1. I disagree with the colleges decision to remove the plaque. The words on the plaque are part of Wheaton’s history. It is what it is. The students, faculty, and board of directors at Wheaton College should not deny this and think they can illuminated by simply removing an honorary plaque. These people died – all of them – brutally; and I think removing this plaque, is disrespectful to them.
    Why is Wheaton College doing this? Why are they allowing the values and ideals held by “woke culture” to dictate how they are going to run their college? The values of so-called woke culture are the veritable antithesis of Christian values. Please, can someone please explain what’s going on at Wheaton to me? Thanks so much.


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