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Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Dangerous Expression of Christianity in America

You may have already seen some of the brouhaha on the internets over a homework assignment given by a Wisconsin teacher to her 10th grade US and World History class.  The students were challenged to write a typical five paragraph essay (a “hamburger essay”) imagining themselves to be a Muslim living in the US. The three body paragraphs of the essay were to describe the challenges that they might face and the struggles of their daily life. 

The outrage being expressed by some is as expected as it is lamentable. 

“I would go in, dressed all tattered and torn and turn in a charred piece of paper and say "I'm sorry but my assignment blew up before I could finish it."

“first off, my kids or grandkids wouldn't be learning about mulims, my assignment would of been IM AN AMERICAN, IM CHRISTIAN, THROW THEM OUT OF MY COUNTRY, gang rapers, murders, child molsters and this what you want to teach our children, shame on you, and this sh** they are teaching our kids now a days has got to stop, your the teacher, teach them our american ways, learning about culuture is one thing not about muslims, teach them the truth then”

“Most innappropriate! This has no place in a public school. [The teacher] needs to be suspended pending counseling on appropriate behavior and teaching methods.”

Pair this story with the recent outrage and fury unleashed by those in response to President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast:

So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities -- the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?

Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history.  And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.

People responded with the same kind of vitriolic comments that we’ve come to expect: they denounced him as a Muslim, as anti-American, and on and on and on…

It seems to me that this combination of 1)an unwillingness to consider the point of view of “the other” as well as 2)an inability (or more accurately – a refusal) to think critically about our own history, our own failures – makes for a very ugly and a potentially very dangerous expression of Christianity in America.  

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