Founder(s): Bill and Vonette Bright
Formation: 1951, University of California
Originally “Campus Crusade for Christ International.”
Name Change: 2011
Reason for Change: to avoid association with the word “crusade.”
Current President: Steve Sellers
Founder of the Lenses Institute/Group: Michael Sylvester
Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) is one of the organizations highlighted in the Enemies Within: The Church documentary as an institution that was once known for solid, Biblical commitment to truth, but is now thoroughly infiltrated with Woke, social justice ideology. In November of 2020, several concerned Cru staff members compiled a document in which they identified a significant Leftward drift in Cru’s promotions, teachings, and staff training. In particular, these staff members identified the Lenses Institute as a central hub of Woke propaganda. They also identified Lisa Sharon Harper’s Freedom Road institute and podcast as divisive and unbiblical. Cru has promoted both the Lenses Institute and Freedom Road, alongside quotes from demonstrably racist, anti-white books such as Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove’s Reconstructing the Gospel, Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist, Jemar Tisby’s The Color of Compromise, and Robert Jensen’s The Heart of Whiteness, among others.
Lenses Institute Training:
One of the clearest examples of Woke infiltration within Cru’s organization is the Lenses Institute, the name of which was eventually changed to “The Lenses Group.” For some Cru staff, Lenses Institute training was mandatory, which means that many Cru employees have been taught according to Lenses ideology. It was an “ethnicity training center,” per the Seeking Clarity and Unity document (which you can find here), and certain employees were instructed to attend mandatory, immersive training for five days.
The following quotes, taken from Seeking Clarity and Unity, highlight the responses of several employees who were unhappy by their LENSES training:
“LENSES STUDENT “As I completed the Cru Lenses Institute training, three words of summary came to my mind: Deceptive, Divisive, and Dangerous. While these are very strong words, I do feel that they are fitting and justified.”
LENSES STUDENT “The danger here is that there are deceptive and divisive elements that have been quickly embedding themselves (intentionally or otherwise) into the orthodoxy and orthopraxy of Cru over the past 5-6 years, specifically around the social justice movement narratives.”
LENSES STUDENT “While it was helpful to hear personal stories and experiences, I found the underlying [and ongoing, yet very subtle] anti-white-American rhetoric to be very polarizing and incendiary. This was confusing, especially if the desired goal is to obtain ‘unity’ and ‘oneness.’”
LENSES STUDENT “My concern is that the training I received was not really about ‘cultural proficiency.’ Honestly, the majority of what was discussed was confined to [negatively] addressing ‘white’ culture here in the U.S.”
LENSES STUDENT “In my specific process group, the lament of ‘being white’ rolled on, with further insight into how we need to address and repent from our systemic racism, our racist tendencies, and deconstruct those [American ‘white’] systems and structures that ‘oppress’ POC.”
The document also reveals that every LENSES student is required to provide a “personalized plan to begin enacting changes in their personal lives, families, communities, and in every sphere of life.”
The original Lenses Institute website (which has since adopted a new domain at www.thelensesgroup.org) described “Three Aims” that they considered to be “essential to any lasting personal and corporate change.” These “Aims” were described as follows, per the Wayback Machine:
“See: Each cohort member will have the opportunity to see the ‘lenses’ of people different from themselves, and see culture and ethnicity clearly displayed in the Bible.”
To put this “aim” another way: Lenses students are forced to listen to the doctrines of standpoint epistemology. Standpoint epistemology is an ideological view about knowledge and authority. According to standpoint theory, epistemic (knowledge) authority comes from one’s personal experiences. Those who have not “experienced racial oppression,” for example, are supposed to be unable to speak authoritatively on the subject, whereas those who have experienced racial oppression are considered authorities. Those who have not experienced it are, therefore, unable to question the authority of those who have. Taken together with the Woke principle that “white people cannot experience racism,” then, standpoint epistemology makes non-white people out to be the sole arbiters of knowledge regarding racism.
“Understand: As cohort members see and examine their ‘lenses’ they will seek to understand how their ‘lenses’ have been shaped by their culture, ethnicity, family, environment, and experiences. They will also begin to understand how historical and present day injustices affect us all.”
This “aim” works hand-in-hand with standpoint epistemology in a shared goal of getting those who are not considered to be authorities on the subject of racism– i.e., white students– to view everything they believe as mere consequences of their environments and experiences. In other words, white students are taught to mistrust their own judgments, because those judgments have supposedly been developed by ethnic, familial, environmental, and experiential factors. White students do not have authority, per LENSES’ standpoint ideology, to speak on issues of race, and therefore should remain silent and listen to those non-white voices who supposedly do have epistemic authority on race.
“Act: James calls us to be doers of the Word (James 1:22). Seeing and understanding must lead to new actions. Each cohort member will leave the Institute with a personalized plan to begin enacting change in their own lives, families, churches, ministries, and communities.”
This last “aim” follows from the first two. After implanting the idea that white people lack epistemic authority to speak on issues of race whereas non-white people are authoritative arbiters of knowledge regarding race, and after establishing the idea that white individuals must understand that their perspectives are inferior because their experiences (and other life factors) differ from those of non-whites, LENSES develops an “action plan” for students. That plan is designed to bring the social justice tenets of standpoint epistemology into their real-world activities.
In other words, Cru’s Lenses Institute was designed in accordance with Critical Race Theory’s tenets, and employees underwent mandatory indoctrination under the pretense of “ethnicity training” via LENSES.
Cru Staff Conferences (2015-Onward):
The U.S. Staff Conferences for Cru leaned heavily into the dogmas of social justice ideology from at least the year 2015 onward. For example, during the Cru19 conference, Sandra Van Opstal made the following woke remarks:
“This generation resonates with the feeling and tone of Amos when they look at churches that are disconnected from the cries of people suffering in their own backyard, and our complicity in racist structures and they want to vomit.”
“True worship cannot exist without chasing [social] justice.”
“The church is staying silent while we experience another Holocaust,” (in reference to the detainment of illegal aliens to the United States).
“The future of the church is young, black, brown, and yellow bodies.”
The Enemies Within: The Church team put together a compilation of woke speakers from Cru conferences, which you can watch here on Trevor Loudon’s YouTube channel.