When I was a kid—before CNN and Fox, before cable and iPhones, before instant 24-7 global coverage of every event—there was a single source of information keeping ordinary folk up-to-date on things they needed to know. It was simply called “The Evening News.”
The half-hour program, broadcast from local hubs or national networks, gave families an overview of current events important to life in their communities. The reporter’s goal was principally to provide accurate information rather than parochial dogma masquerading as even-handed coverage.
In this issue of Solid Ground, I’d like to give you my version of “The Evening News”—accurate information that simply reports what has been happening recently in our communities relevant to a basic theme I’ve been writing about this year. Yes, I have a point to make, but in this case, I think the news speaks for itself.
In my bi-monthly Solid Ground dispatches to you this year, I have been sounding a warning about a trend I’ve been tracking—an ideologically-driven downward trajectory of secular culture that’s rapidly eroding America’s fundamental freedoms in a way we have never encountered before.
In January, I gave you a glimpse of a tyrannical world nearly half a century ago, where Christians were trapped behind an “Iron Curtain” of oppression under the ruthless hammer and sickle of Soviet domination.
In March, I noted that human lives will be ruled by one of two fundamental forces: either truth or power. When our first parents exchanged the external rule of God and the objective truth of his world “out there” for the internal rule of their own desires “in here”—the outside/inside exchange at the heart of all forms of relativism—they plunged humanity into a treacherous struggle between, on the one hand, the truth that brings liberty and, on the other, the powerful forces intent on extinguishing both truth and liberty.
In May, I showed how that struggle has been manifesting itself in current cultural skirmishes, revealing a disquieting trend towards totalitarianism in America—the place many of us considered to be, irrevocably, “the land of the free.” “In the West today,” one astute and well-informed writer has observed, “we are living under decadent, pre-totalitarian conditions.”
Presently, we face the encroachment of an unusual species of oppression, a daunting amalgam of hard and soft totalitarianism—“hard” when compliance is enforced from above by government, and “soft” when compliance is dictated by elites in private cultural institutions like the academy, the press, corporations, Hollywood, and the tech moguls running social media. When truth is the casualty in that battle, then citizens are condemned to live by lies.
Finally, in July, I alerted you to one instance of the truth/power struggle. I compared two ways the injustice of racism has been addressed in this country—the truth-centered Civil Rights Movement of the ’60s led by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the more “progressive” power-centered approach known as critical race theory (CRT). I concluded that the intolerable evil of racism can only be resolved through truth, not power—the truth of the intrinsic value of each human being made in God’s image and the truth of the moral virtues God intended man to live by.
In my version here of The Evening News, I report a handful of items that verify the trend I have been tracking. I’m convinced, though, that these news tidbits are “iceberg tips” connected to a larger story, a drama that lies behind the headlines, driven by “spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.” 
The Story behind the Stories
From the beginning, mankind’s rebellion has been a quest for autonomy—self-rule—freedom from God’s rules and God’s ways. On the flanks, the “serpent of old,” instigator of the rebellion, orchestrates the larger moves, part of a dark scheme to subvert God’s good world.
His first attack assaults the core, the foundation, replacing God’s external, objective Truth with man’s internal, subjective “truth.” Relativism. A second strike aims at God’s good purpose for man to be fruitful and multiply. The holy union of one man with one woman becoming one flesh for one lifetime is replaced by a twisted substitute of anything-goes-sex, anything-goes-gender, and anything-goes-marriage.
Through it all, though, the serpent stays in the shadows, mankind unaware of the stranglehold he has on them. Since he “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9) and “has blinded the minds of the unbelieving” (2 Cor. 4:4) who have been “held captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:26), now “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 Jn. 5:19).
The captives offer darkness as light, clothing vice in the vocabulary of virtue with words like “tolerance,” “diversity,” “equity,” “inclusion,” “broad-mindedness,” “dialogue,” “justice,” and—above all—“love.” They use the vocabulary of evil to subvert the good with words like “intolerance,” “bigotry,” “inequity,” “exclusion,” “narrow-mindedness,” “silence,” “injustice,” and—above all—“hate.”
The gateways of information falter first—the academy, Hollywood, the media. Education is next, then big business. Finally, the big stick—the law. None falls hard and fast. Instead, each crumbles slowly, most people hardly noticing. The language deceives them. 
The lies at first are quiet ones, subtle deceptions—not shouted from the rooftops, but rather whispered, gently tickling the ears, a quiet drumbeat of little deceits unnoticed by most. As the power balance shifts, though, the lies get bolder, more aggressive. Rhetoric-laden persuasion replaces inuendo, then coercion replaces persuasion. Dissent is silenced, dissidents punished. Totalitarianism creeps closer.
That is the big story, the trend the news items testify to. And now, “The Evening News.” I’ll start with whispers.
As I walk down the jetway to board my Delta flight, I’m greeted by picture-posters lining the walls, depicting typical passengers. They include a shot of two gay men cuddling together in their seats, two 20-something gals enjoying a travel fling, an unmarried couple on a junket (no wedding rings), a young woman holding a child (a single mom?), a female Hispanic in combat fatigues, a black woman in construction garb replete with hard hat, a smiling flight attendant, and other individual travelers embarking on business trips or personal adventures—all thoroughly inclusive, except…not a single picture of a family.
On board, I check my personal entertainment monitor. The first viewing choice offered on the display—Delta’s “Spotlight” feature—is Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” with a “billboard photo” depicting five effusively happy gay men. When I survey the 36 selections in Delta’s “New Onboard” category, seven—nearly 20%—focus on gay themes. No loud voices here, just smooth, subtle socializing to a secular view of reality. Quiet lies.
While writing this piece, I mistakenly launch MS Word’s “Smart Lookup” for the word “woke.” A definition appears on my screen: “Alert to injustice and discrimination in society, especially racism.” Odd. No mention of the role “woke” plays as a unique term of art in critical race theory. Only a noble-sounding characterization every biblical Christian could affirm. The antonyms listed, by the way, are “conservative” and “moderate.” Thus, neither conservatives nor moderates qualify—according to the Microsoft crowd—as people alert to injustice, discrimination, or racism.
Facebook now offers a list of 58 gender options for FB users so that “users can now select a ‘custom’ gender option,” including “gender fluid,” “androgynous,” “two-spirit,” “pangender,” and “neutrois.”
In the Austin public school system, students encounter the “Genderbread Person,” alerting them to the difference between biological sex and gender identity, instructing young readers that gender identity is located “in your head.” The sex education curriculum for 6th graders in Austin in 2019 stated that “being a boy, girl, or in-between is mostly about how someone feels, not their body parts.”
Gentle whispers. These whispers, however, soon give way to louder voices.
Totalitarianism rides on the rails of different cultural circumstances at different times—Russian Bolsheviks rebelling against tsarist tyranny in 1917, for example, or Germany’s National Socialist Party in the ’30s capitalizing on the public humiliation and economic collapse caused by the Treaty of Versailles.
Currently, the cultural momentum towards totalitarianism is fueled by CRT, gay/gender inclusion and, as it turns out, the COVID-19 crisis. Regardless of your views on the medical status of the coronavirus or the politics of the pandemic, the threat of the virus has shown us how incredibly easy it is for present-day government to significantly eliminate “first freedoms” when citizens are sufficiently frightened.
In “Critical Race Theory, the New Intolerance, and Its Grip on America,”  the Heritage Foundation reports:
The CRT-influenced trainings that are often seen in America’s workplaces and schools…seek to replace what its practitioners see as a “cultural hegemony” with a “counter-hegemony.” A well-known example of this indoctrination came in 2020 from the National Museum for African American History and Culture, a Smithsonian institution…. The museum ran an “anti-racist” chart that disparaged “hard work” and “cause and effect relationships” and criticized ideas such as “hard work is the key to success,” “work before play,” and “objective, rational linear thinking,” saying these are attributes of “white dominant culture, or whiteness.”
A Christian high school principal of a large public school in the Midwest—who is currently flying under the administration’s radar—told me he’s read over 200 articles in his field promoting critical race theory. Not a single one was sympathetic to any contrary view—indeed, they were uniformly hostile—nor did they show the slightest compassion for troubled parents whose children were being systematically propagandized with this doctrine.
The principal also warned that often CRT slips in unnoticed by parents because it’s smuggled into classrooms under the guise of shadow programs using acronyms like DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion), and other variations. This tactic enables public schools to instruct unwary students in the core concepts of CRT while simultaneously denying that it’s being taught.
The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, offers a PDF resource counseling educators in how to answer kids’ questions about the meanings of LGBTQ letters. It includes gender-inclusive definitions of phrases like “gender expansive” (“Some people feel that the traditional ways of being a ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ do not fit for them. They live their lives showing that there are many ways to be a girl, boy, both or neither”), “gender identity” (“How you feel. Girl, boy, both or neither”), and “transgender or trans” (“When your gender identity (how you feel) is different than what doctors/midwives assigned to you when you were born (girl/boy or sex assigned at birth)”).
In a category titled “Who You Love,” the resource gives guidance on words like “bisexual” (“People who love people of more than one gender. [In grades 3 – 5, you might say people who love or are attracted to people of more than one gender]”), “sexual orientation” (“Who you love. [In grades 3 – 5, you might say who you love or are attracted to]”), and “pansexual” (“People who love people of any gender. [In grades 3 – 5, you might say people who love or are attracted to people of any gender]”).
Lesbian journalist Katie Herzog laments that medical schools are now denying biological sex. With students “policing teachers,” she writes, “professors are apologizing for saying ‘male’ and ‘female’” because such terminology is considered “transphobic”:
During a recent endocrinology course at a top medical school in the University of California system, a professor stopped mid-lecture to apologize for something he’d said at the beginning of class. “I don’t want you to think that I am in any way trying to imply anything, and if you can summon some generosity to forgive me, I would really appreciate it,” the physician says…. “Again, I’m very sorry for that. It was certainly not my intention to offend anyone. The worst thing that I can do as a human being is be offensive…. I said ‘when a woman is pregnant,’ which implies that only women can get pregnant and I most sincerely apologize to all of you”….
In a lecture on transgender health, an instructor declared: “Biological sex, sexual orientation, and gender are all constructs. These are all constructs that we have created.” [Emphasis added.]
Yahoo News reports on a California state law, in effect since January 1, that allows self-proclaimed male transgender inmates to be housed in women’s prisons.
In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Women’s Liberation Front accused the state of violating the constitutional rights of incarcerated women by allowing men into their living quarters to “prey on women”.… WLF has received numerous complaints of assaulted, abused, and traumatized women at the hands of male inmates transferred into their prisons, WoLF Legal Director Lauren Adams said…. Women have been sexually abused in the past and must now contend with [anatomically intact] nude men sharing communal showers…. Having to sleep in a cell with a man or shower with them is traumatic, Adams said.
For public school educators in Portland, Oregon, even mathematics has come under the influence of CRT in the guise of “a virtual micro-course in math equity instruction” promoted by the Oregon Department of Education:
A new debate has emerged over the controversial topic of white supremacy and racism in school math instruction…. The course offering started to garner headlines, as some wondered how a topic like math instruction could be rooted in racism or white supremacy. A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction does offer an 82-page workbook on how teachers can “examine their actions, beliefs, and values around teaching mathematics.” The group claims white supremacy culture can show up in the classroom in various ways, including when “the focus is on getting the ‘right’ answer,” and when “students are required to ‘show their work.’” The group also says educators should try to “center ethnomathematics” by identifying and challenging the ways that “math is used to uphold capitalist, imperialist, and racist views.”
A member of our STR community and distressed officer in the U.S. military recently sent us this note:
On numerous occasions, we have been briefed, en masse, not just the about language we use, but the tone, and whether we make someone feel offended, ensure inclusivity—any number of the current buzz words and phrases, not only in personal conversations and interactions but with social media posts and even “Likes” [that] can have us reported for causing a service member to feel unwelcome or offended.
It is very disturbing the pace that our military is embracing cultural change in the guise of inclusivity, diversity and equity. It is very disturbing that many of us feel we have to take measures (concerns about anonymity), or we can find ourselves canceled, and a career threatened. We are painfully aware of how the cultural language and feelings can adversely affect our position, command, career, and the ability to provide for our family…. If our boys were of age, we would discourage them from military service, the change is that drastic.
Shouts from the Rooftops
A clear “tell” of escalating totalitarianism—soft or hard—is the swift silencing of dissent and punishment of dissidents. Sanctions serve as a warning to would-be ideological troublemakers. Critical race theory is currently the most uncompromising example of that pattern, but the gender/gay activists run a close second.
In their Justice News, the DOJ released the text of then Attorney General William Barr’s speech at the University of Notre Dame in 2019.  In his address, Barr cited government hostility towards conventional religion, evidenced by its use of LGBT curricula in direct opposition to the spiritual convictions of many parents:
New Jersey recently passed a law requiring public schools to adopt an LGBT curriculum that many feel is inconsistent with traditional Christian teaching. Similar laws have been passed in California and Illinois. And the Orange County Board of Education in California issued an opinion that “parents who disagree with the instructional materials related to gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation may not excuse their children from this instruction.”
Maud Maron was a public defender in New York whose CV was thick with politically-correct, culturally-liberal bona fides. Even so, in spite of her spotless professional record, she was forced out of her job as a racist. In “A Witch Trial at the Legal Aid Society,” Bari Weiss records Maron’s saga.
“I am very open about what I stand for,” [Maron said]. “I am pro-integration. I am pro-diversity. And also I reject the narrative that white parents are to blame for the failures of our school system. I object to the mayor’s proposal to get rid of specialized admissions tests to schools like Stuyvesant. And I believe that racial essentialism is racist and should not be taught in school.”
Those remarks rattled her colleagues, but when Maron published a piece in the New York Post on July 23, 2020 titled “Racial Obsessions Make It Impossible for NYC Schools to Treat Parents, Kids as People,” her words triggered withering condemnation.
I am a mom [she wrote], a public defender, an elected public-school council member and a City Council candidate. But at a city Department of Education anti-bias training, I was instructed to refer to myself as a “white woman”—as if my whole life reduces to my race. Those who oppose this ideology are shunned and humiliated, even as it does nothing to actually improve our broken schools…. The DOE has spent more than $6 million for the training, which defines qualities such as “worship of the written word,” “individualism” and “objectivity” as “white-supremacy culture.”
“That’s when things at work blew up,” Weiss writes. “Maron said it was not easy to find a lawyer to take her case: Challenging activists who claim the mantle of antiracism carries tremendous professional risks these days.”
“If you had asked me when I became a mom what I thought were the pressing concerns my kids would face,” Maron now reflects, “I probably would have said climate change, maybe ending the Iraq war. I am so shocked that what I worry about now is creeping totalitarianism in America” (emphasis added).
Wall Street Journal columnist Abigail Shrier wrote the groundbreaking book Irreversible Damage warning parents of the transgender craze that is emotionally wounding and physically disfiguring their daughters. Shrier’s work was named one of the best books of 2021 by The Times of London and The Economist, along with other accolades.
Even so, Shrier received an avalanche of criticism that stimulated an aggressive campaign to ban her book. Under heavy pressure from activists, the American Bookseller’s Association (ABA) issued an apology for promoting the work:
An anti-trans book was included in our July mailing to members. This is a serious, violent incident that goes against ABA’s ends policies, values, and everything we believe and support. It is inexcusable. We apologize to our trans members and to the trans community for this terrible incident and the pain we caused them. We also apologize to the LGBTQIA+ community at large, and to our bookselling community.
I have cited Bari Weiss’s articles multiple times in this piece. It’s important to note that Weiss is not a conservative, but a lesbian centrist who was an op-ed staff editor for the New York Times. Her letter of resignation from the NYT is an anguished lament of the fall of the “Gray Lady” from its formerly lofty ideals. It is also confirmation of the trend I have been chronicling: 
A new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else…. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative. My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist…. I’ve always comforted myself with the notion that the best ideas win out. But ideas cannot win on their own. They need a voice. They need a hearing.
“And Now This…”
When you see quiet intrusions into your daily life from secular culture promoting narcissistic relativism (e.g., “You do you,” “Have it your way,” “What does your heart tell you?” etc.), take note. When you observe not-so-subtle attempts to undermine God’s purposes for sexuality, marriage, and family, mark it. When you confront divisive ideologies like CRT, be instructed.
Each is part of a larger plan—a broad “scheme” of deception by spiritual forces in heavenly places moving us towards totalitarianism. Much of what we now face in this tsunami of cultural craziness is an outworking of dark designs—undetected by unbelievers—meant to subvert God’s purposes in the world.
If you pay attention, you will see it. The evidence is all around you. It’s all right there in The Evening News.
The Evening News, however, does not have the last word. A Puritan prayer I stumbled upon this morning describes the deeper reality:
O Lord, I bless thee that the issue of the battle
between thyself and Satan
has never been uncertain,
and will end in victory.
Calvary broke the dragon’s head,
and I contend with a vanquished foe,
who with all his subtlety and strength
has already been overcome.
When I feel the serpent at my heel
may I remember him whose heel was bruised,
but who, when bruised, broke the devil’s head.
 “Iron Curtain Diary,” Solid Ground, Jan-Feb 2021, str.org.
 “The Primal Heresy,” Solid Ground, Mar-Apr 2021, str.org.
 Rod Dreher, Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents (New York City: Sentinel, 2020), 93.
 “Freedom Failing,” Solid Ground, May-June 2021, str.org.
 “Critical Race Theory—Civil Rights Upside Down,” Solid Ground, July-Aug 2021, str.org.
 Ephesians 6:10–12.
 Revelation 20:2.
 A paraphrase of Jesus’ characterization of marriage in Matthew 19:4–6.
 As in the activist slogan “Silence is violence.”
 Recall the right-is-wrong, up-is-down “doublethink” slogans of the Party in Orwell’s 1984: “War Is Peace; Freedom Is Slavery; Ignorance Is Strength.”
 As cited in Keith Stranglin, Ethics Beyond Rules (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2021), 94.
 Butcher and Gonzalez, “Critical Race Theory, the New Intolerance, and Its Grip on America,” The Heritage Foundation, December 7, 2020, https://www.heritage.org/civil-rights/report/critical-race-theory-the-new-intolerance-and-its-grip-america.
 For the original story, see Chacour Koop, “Smithsonian Museum Apologizes for Saying Hard Work, Rational Thought Is ‘White Culture,’” Miami Herald, 7/17/2020, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article244309587.html.
 “Defining LGBTQ Words for Elementary School Students,” https://welcomingschools.org/resources/definitions-lgbtq-elementary-school.
 I mention Herzog’s “sexual preference” only to point out that this alarm is not being sounded by a conservative.
 Katie Herzog, “Med Schools Are Now Denying Biological Sex,” 7/27/21, https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/med-schools-are-now-denying-biological.
 Tori Richards, “Newsom Needs to Halt Transgender Mixing of Prison Populations, Women Advocates Say,” Yahoo News, 6/29/21, https://news.yahoo.com/newsom-needs-halt-transgender-mixing-201200699.html.
 Lincoln Graves, “Debate Emerges over Racism and White Supremacy in Oregon Math Instruction,” KATU, 2/26/21, https://katu.com/news/local/debate-emerges-over-racism-and-white-supremacy-in-math-instruction.
 For obvious reasons, he wished to remain anonymous.
 The outcry against this abusive dogma is mounting, though. Objectors now include political centrists and even some left of center. For one notable example, see https://theconservativetreehouse.com/blog/2021/04/17/one-parent-of-new-york-city-indoctrination-school-has-had-enough/.
 Bari Weiss, “A Witch Trial at the Legal Aid Society,” 7/12/21, https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/a-witch-trial-at-the-legal-aid-society.
 Abigail Shrier, Irreversible Damage—The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2021).
 Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision—A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (Edinburgh, UK: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 328.