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April 13th, 2013
02:38 PM ET

My Take: Nothing wrong with Nazi assignment

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN) – School officials in Albany, New York, are racing to control the damage after a teacher at Albany High School gave students a persuasive writing assignment that challenged them to defend the proposition that “Jews are evil.”

After studying Nazi propaganda and rhetoric, sophomores in three English classes were instructed to imagine that their teacher was “a member of the government in Nazi Germany” and to prove that that they were “loyal to the Nazis.”

But this unidentified teacher is now caught up in a propaganda swirl of his or her own.

Albany Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, at a Friday press conference at which she was flanked by members of the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Federation of New York, apologized and promised disciplinary action.

One student, Emily Karandy, told The Times Union of Albany that she kept putting off the assignment “because I didn’t want to think about it” and she felt “horrible” when she turned it in.

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New York City Councilman David Greenfield has called for the resignation of the teacher, who has been placed on leave.

"The teacher responsible for coming up with and assigning students with this task must be held accountable for attempting to indoctrinate children with anti-Semitic beliefs," Greenfield said in a statement. "Quite obviously, this teacher lacks the judgment and common sense necessary to have a position of such great responsibility and is clearly not fit to return to the classroom."

"You asked a child to support the notion that the Holocaust was justified, that's my struggle," said Vanden Wyngaard. "It's an illogical leap for a student to make."

I think it’s Greenfield who is lacking in common sense here. And it's the superintendent who is being illogical.

I suppose it is possible that the teacher is a closet Nazi attempting to reconstruct the Third Reich in Albany. But isn’t it more likely that he or she is trying to teach students about the dangers of propaganda and the horrors of the Holocaust?

Consider the student who felt “horrible” about doing this assignment. Is that really a bad thing? How are high school students today supposed to feel about Nazism and the Holocaust?

Apparently, what they are supposed to feel (and think) is nothing, because the lesson high school teachers are going to take away from this fiasco is to avoid this topic at all costs, lest they risk losing their jobs.

When I was an assistant professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta, I used to teach Nazi theology. My students read sermons by Nazi theologians arguing that Jews were evil and were responsible for killing Jesus. They also read a book called “Theologians Under Hitler” by Robert P. Erickson, who tried to explain how and why Christian thinkers could come to believe that exterminating Jews was somehow Christ-like.

I am not a Nazi. I was not teaching Nazi theology as the truth. I was teaching it as propaganda, just like this Albany High School teacher was doing. My purpose was not to make my students sympathetic to Nazism. My purpose was to unsettle them. And to teach them something along the way.

I had two goals when teaching this material.

First, I wanted my students to realize that smart Christians with doctoral degrees supported the Holocaust. Second, I wanted them to grapple with the implications of this fact on their own religious commitments. Do Christians today have any responsibility to know this history and to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again? If so, how can they exercise that responsibility without coming to understand the contours of Nazi thought?

But instead of grappling with these questions, my students almost universally tried to side-step them. The Nazis were not Christians, they told me confidently, because Christians would never kill Jews just for being Jews. Case closed. Time to move on to more comfortable topics.

What I witnessed in Atlanta, and what we are seeing today in Albany, is a failure of imagination. My students were so locked into their current circumstances that they couldn’t imagine things being different in a different place and time.

For them, to believe that Christians could condone the Holocaust was (to quote from the Albany superintendent) an “illogical leap.” But Christians did condone the Holocaust. How can students learn that without digging into the primary materials? And how better to wrestle with those primary materials than by constructing a persuasive essay built upon them?

If I were teaching at Albany High School I might have worded this assignment a little differently. But it's a terrific assignment, and one that should be used at more high schools across the country. To far too many American youth, the Holocaust is an echo of an echo. Assignments like this bring it alive in all its horrors.

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But students aren't the only victims of the failure of imagination we are now witnessing among Albany school officials and Jewish leaders. The teacher is a victim, too. And so are public school teachers across the country who are being told via this fiasco not to be creative as teachers, not to challenge their students to think in new ways.

If this teacher is fired, I will invite him or her to Boston University, where I now teach, to explain what he or she was trying to accomplish in challenging students with this assignment. And I will give the same assignment to my college students. I think it will do them some good.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Culture wars • Education • Holocaust • Judaism • New York • Prejudice • United States

soundoff (1,829 Responses)
  1. Gingyt Israel

    The gentleman purports to speak for the teacher's motives. Getting to the truth is required here. Perhaps the teacher was attempting something like the gentleman proposes. Perhaps not. An investigation is required. Motives, to the best of the ability of those conducting the investigation, should be explored and uncovered. Facts should determine the consequences.

    April 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • derp

      The teacher was asking the students to make an argument to the local Nazi authorities to prove their loyalty. It is a pretty innovative way to show students how group think and blind loyalty to a bad idea created the holocaust.

      teaching outside the box. Nothing truly anti-Semitic at all.

      I actually think it is pretty innovative. I had a similar exercise in school concerning slavery.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  2. Ryan M. Barnett

    Brilliant post. Assuming that the teacher's frame of reference was in line with this thought process (i.e., does not turn out to be, in fact, a Nazi) then the assignment was clearly intentioned to create discomfort and the critical thinking results which flow as a result. The truth is that we don't like to think and certainly not about messy thing like Brilliant post. Assuming that the teacher's frame of reference was in line with this thought process (i.e., does not turn out to be, in fact, a Nazi) then the assignment was clearly intentioned to create discomfort and the critical thinking results which flow as a result. The truth is that we don't like to think and certainly not about messy thing like phony faith (the great German theologians who stood by and didn't fight Nazi "theology" are some of the best examples in history). But most Americans in my experience don't appreciate the nuances of such a difficult subject – they prefer to see things in myopic self-congratulatory smugness. Thus, I suspect this quite insightful point of view will strike many as incomprehensible (in reality, incapable of being understood as a result of anemic intellect). phony faith (the great German theologians who stood by and didn't fight Nazi "theology" are some of the best examples in history). But most Americans in my experience don't appreciate the nuances of such a difficult subject – they prefer to see things in myopic self-congratulatory smugness.

    April 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  3. John Illinois

    Amazingly, you liberals have no problem whatsoever ramming all the liberal BS down students throats!

    April 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • E.J. Dowd

      At what point did this become a liberal/conservative issue? Critical thinking skills are important to a superior education, and the teacher's assignment challenged the student to develop those skills. It has nothing to do with political leanings.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • what1ever

      Well, since everything that liberals believe is based on evidence and science, rather than dogma, unfounded speculation and FOX news anchors, I would find that to be an amazingly inaccurate analogy.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Mike

      Amazing? That a group of people try to influence others with their beliefs? Your life must be one of constant bewilderment and shock, to be so amazed by the notion that someone might try to convince others of their own beliefs.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  4. What absolute garbage!!

    This author is trying to defend something that really shouldn't be defended, and is being extremely insensitive doing so. If they want to do mental exercises, then the teacher should have assigned them to write a letter to Hitler stating why his ideas were immoral and why they feel loyal to the JEWS – THAT would get them exercising proper judgement, not wasting their time writing another "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." After hearing something often enough, especially when "acting" as if they are writing it, students will start to "own" these ideas. And that's the moral failure of this teacher and of the author of this ridiculous article. Can he see anything wrong with students acting as if they are Adam Lanza and defending his actions??!!

    April 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • what1ever

      It's easy to argue against the holocaust or Adam Lanza. "The holocaust is wrong because you shouldn't murder millions of people for no reason." "Adam Lanza is wrong because you shouldn't shoot little children that you don't know." What would an assignment like that accomplish? It's easy to see brain washing in hindsight, but even today SEVENTY SIX PERCENT of Americans supported invading Iraq and believed that Saddam had WMDs. Until you can get in the mind of a brain washed person, you won't really understand brain washing. Once you understand brain washing you can identify it.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  5. Robert

    Many members of my family where killed.
    I do not believe any one promoting the idea that there death was justified should be allowed in the classroom.
    If the author thinks there is nothing wrong with the teacher, he also should be banned from talking to children.
    The author should visit the Holocaust museum and here the stories and read the facts of what happened, then and only then can he talk.

    April 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • derp

      You do realize that this assignment was given in preparation of a class reading of "night".

      The teacher was asking the students to make an argument to the local Nazi authorities to prove their loyalty. It is a pretty innovative way to show students how group think and blind loyalty to a bad idea created the holocaust.

      But heck, why make the kids think critically in different ways than before.

      Lets just give them another standardized test.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • E.J. Dowd

      You missed the point. Completely.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • jheron

      You are missing the point. People dismiss the Nazi's as just being "evil". ..that we aren't like them in any way....which is dangerous. The German people were indoctrinated to do horrendous things toward the Jewish people. Its better that we become aware and understand how the German people could allow such crimes to happen so we can prevent them from happening again.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  6. mike

    The author of this article has a valid point. Oh, by the way he did not state that nazis were christians he said some christians supported nazis. i think there is a difference. Also we do not know what the teacher told the class leading up to the assignment. lets not burn the witches in this century too.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  7. Joanie

    I am appalled that you believe that this assignment is OK. I want my college student to think outside the box so I ask them to think about what it would be like to be a Jew in Nazi Germany. They can read Der Sturmer and see all the hateful propaganda and study how, when words are used that refer to people as "vermin," then it is not a giant leap to the bellief that vermin must be exterminated. This assignment is just, plain and simply, wrong on every level. And I sincerely hope that your students read yoou the riot act and refuse to do the assignment. this si not "thinking outside the box," this is inciting a reignition of a culture of hatred and racism.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • E.J. Dowd

      Your reading comprehension could use some work. Go back and try to grasp what the author is saying. No one is PROMOTING racism, for God's sake. The idea is to teach kids how easily people can be turned on one another, even so-called "Christians.":

      April 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • derp

      Judaism is not a race.

      It is a religion.

      There cannot be racism in this discussion.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • what1ever

      Jews technically are a race. All modern Jews moved to Europe after the failure of the Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Fritz Schenk

      I don't think the author said anything about "thinking outside of the box" and I doubt that he intended you to infer that. If you want to use the term "box", in this context the box is that of the Nazi. I have no idea whether the teacher meant this but if I had been given this assignment by e-mail, I'd have assumed that the intent was to try and think like a Nazi so that I could understand what had to be missing in Nazi morals and values so that they could do the evil that they did and justify it. I couldn't possibly do this assignment without thinking that even if the teachers intention was to convince me to be a Nazi. It's called critical thinking and if a kid in the 10th grade hasn't been taught by his parents to do that, then it is up to the teacher to do it and this assignment could have been a good tool to do it. Again, I don't know what the teacher's intent was but it's possible that it was valid and a good assignment.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • derp

      "Jews technically are a race. All modern Jews moved to Europe after the failure of the Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire'

      No they are not.

      My brother converted from catholicism. He is American, of Irish descent. He is Jewish. His race is caucasian. His wife is atheist, and she is chinese.

      See the difference, race versus religion.

      April 16, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  8. LessonLearned

    Lesson for today...Don't step outside the box or try to be creative or some ignorant, likely liberal you offend will get you fired. This is the new American way.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • E.J. Dowd

      That's not a fair assessment at all. I'm one of the "liberals" you dislike so vehemently, and I fully support the author of this article and the assignment. Try to use your head before you start with the name-calling and generalizations, and your opinion will be more credible.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  9. David

    This guy is a college professor? Talk about making a leap to teach propaganda? A teacher can explain propaganda in history in more appropriate ways. To imply any other way is somehow "avoiding" the issue? There was no religious movement or philosophy behind Nazism. Christians were exploited all over Europe, as other groups. History is a non-fiction subject. College professors should know the facts, not spew stupid arguments with no foundation in truth.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @David,

      "Christians were exploited all over Europe"

      Substantiate this please! Christians ran Europe from the beginning of the dark ages until (arguably) very recently.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • derp

      "In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison"

      "The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew."

      “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

      “National Socialism is not a cult-movement– a movement for worship; it is exclusively a ‘volkic’ political doctrine based upon racial principles. In its purpose there is no mystic cult, only the care and leadership of a people defined by a common blood-relationship... We will not allow mystically- minded occult folk with a passion for exploring the secrets of the world beyond to steal into our Movement. Such folk are not National Socialists, but something else– in any case something which has nothing to do with us. At the head of our programme there stand no secret surmisings but clear-cut perception and straightforward profession of belief. But since we set as the central point of this perception and of this profession of belief the maintenance and hence the security for the future of a being formed by God, we thus serve the maintenance of a divine work and fulfill a divine will– not in the secret twilight of a new house of worship, but openly before the face of the Lord… Our worship is exclusively the cultivation of the natural, and for that reason, because natural, therefore God-willed. Our humility is the unconditional submission before the divine laws of existence so far as they are known to us men

      “Only in the steady and constant application of force lies the very first prerequisite for success. This persistence, however, can always and only arise from a definite spiritual conviction. Any violence which does not spring from a firm, spiritual base, will be wavering and uncertain.”

      "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people."

      Adolf Hitler

      April 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • derp

      "There was no religious movement or philosophy behind Nazism"

      Yeah, Hitler professed his christianity and murdered jews and atheists in the name of christ.

      But of course, that was not religiously motivated.

      The level of delusion among christians is remarkable.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • lol??

      Yeah gopher, bet those Christian Vikings were some bad a$$ dudes.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      When CHristians have been persecuted in Europe it was often at the hands of OTHER christians.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • lol??

      C'mon derp, you're just ticked da fuhrer didn't kill more Christians. The level of socie hate is satanic.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • lol??

      Dark ages gopher?? It's getting darker! Hubris, the socie mantra.

      "Amo 5:18 Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end [is] it for you? the day of the LORD [is] darkness, and not light."

      April 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Cogs

      "The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity. " Hitler 10/19/1941

      " Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery.... " 12/13/1941

      April 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  10. Jesse from KC

    If you can't see both sides of this issue, then you shouldn't speak about it.

    I was in a debate course in high school, and had to debate on the side of subjects I disagreed with. This taught me an awful lot about how to deal with life.

    This assignment, however poorly constructed, was designed to do the same.

    I'm so torn on this issue I have nothing further to say on it.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  11. Russell

    I think you're kind of out of touch, Mr. Prothero. Studying the propaganda and trying to understand why people thought that way is a bit different than having to write it. Were there any Jews that got that assignment? If so, then it's doubly crass and inconsiderate. Are you remembering that 6 million Jews died? Perhaps these assignments were well intentioned, but that does not mean they were well thought out. I think there are other ways to teach the subject without making people start thinking of reasons why "Jews are evil." And not every reaction like this is censorship or hurtful to education.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • GG

      no, Russell, you're out of touch. kids see the same textbooks and pictures all over the country. I agree with the author that this presents a very different way to understand the depravity and atrocity of the Nazi regime. it is far more creative than the dry textbooks and might even make the kids 'think" about the topic. I'm tired of certain words being put together - in this case "Nazi" and "Jew" - and have people run to whatever authority to express outrage, without really thinking themselves. We train people to react, not to think. good commentary.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • E.J. Dowd

      Russell, you're the one who is out of touch. Challenging kids to consider something so awful, from the perspective of the guilty, was a brilliant idea. The fact that it made some kids "uncomfortable" is exactly the point. Learning is more than just reading the textbok and watching the video.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • STEVE

      To believe that this only happens in the distant past is also not critically thinking of our current situation in the world. These beliefs happen in Africa, Asia and the Middle East all the time. People place themselves above 'others' and it is not unimaginable to have propaganda create a situation where killing becomes normalized. This teacher was trying to bring alive the history because too much of history is dusty and not part of a teenager's life, i.e. not important. This was a way to bring it alive and make it relevant. There were children in Germany their age now who did support these beliefs. Were these children monsters or were they brainwashed by propaganda?
      I think a way that the idea of the Holocaust without the rawness of using the Jews vs Germans would have been to create an instructive device that had the same ideas but separated from the actual facts. Teachers have used the example of blond haired people vs brown haired people or any number of differences. That may have been more effective without the direct connection of what actually occurred.
      Too many people are missing the point of the exercise. This teacher wanted the students to place themselves in the shoes of a German citizen in WW2 exactly to see that in some ways it was quite easy and in others, it was a big leap of faith.
      We have movies that place us in the shoes of our enemies such as Tora, Tora, Tora. These are not meant to defend the Axis but it is instructive to understand how they got into war as well. I wish that more teachers were allowed to take some risks and offend some people if it means that our children understand our past in a more complete way. I am a reader of history novels and the best ones are the ones that take you into both sides of the story and explain it in a more human way. I hope that this teacher is given no disciplinary action, other than maybe a directive on how to better use his lesson without the direct offense possible.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Free Thought USA

      The teacher wasn't promoting anti-Jew thoughts. He was bringing to the students attention the down fall of this mentality and its ultimate failure. The students were meant to see this as wrong and cruel. To hide from history behind a text book is to relive that history. In east Germany, for years, the Nazi life was not taught in history, hence neo Nazis began. Children today are being sheltered from the horrors of our world both old and new. Thats why children today are commiting more and more acts of cruelty. They don't see the detrimental effects of their choices. I applaud the creativity of this and other teachers that wish to help our youth develope into better people.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  12. Lucroix

    Why do any critical thinking in school? Think what the PC police and the media tell you to think..

    April 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  13. gayithacan

    I can only say, as a teacher, that I hope the author this piece is let nowhere near students again – ever.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Dippy's sub

      I can only hope that you don't work with students at all. Your writing is execrable.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
  14. LordEarlGray

    The author is an idiot. This was supremely offensive the way it was set up.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  15. Matthew

    The author of this article writes nothing but drivel. Nazis banned Christianity from Austrian and German schools. Nazis worshipped the state and superior race. Their ideas of racism was based on Darwinism. If anything, Nazis were an athiest group.

    No this assignment was not appropriate. I do agree studying Nazis and Holocaust and being open to propogranda is good but this went too far. Not a Jew but I can cleary see how this would not be constructive and would be offensive.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "Got Mit Uns"

      Look it up.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Looks like @Blessed beat me to it.

      For a jew you seem pretty uneducated about the holocaust.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Marvin

      Got mit uns – printed on german currency BEFORE the rise of the Third Reich...Derrrrrr.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Leroy Porter

      Decades at least Before the rise of 3rd Reich Marvin.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Marvin,

      the Prussians used the motto "Gott mit uns" long before the Third Reich, nevertheless it remained the motto of the Wehrmacht specifically.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Leroy Porter

      Although Cheeseboy would make you believe they created the slogan. Nice fail boys..nice fail

      April 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Sam

      You are absolutely wrong about everything you're saying. The idea that the Nazis were Darwinian or atheists is recent nonsense made up by the American religious right to combat new atheism with slander and libel. As the article's author mentioned correctly, Christian theology played a huge part in the Holocaust, and the Nazis were even (basically) sanctioned by the Pope. Whether you believe in God or not educate yourself before you spew nonsense like this and out yourself as ignorant.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Marvin,

      And printed on the belt buckles of the SS showing the Nazi's were not anti-religion as Matthew implied

      Bigger drrrrrrr....

      April 15, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • derp

      "In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison"

      "The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew."

      “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

      Adolf Hitler

      Hitler was christian. He murdered jews, atheists, gays and anyone else who did not fit the "christian ideal". He makes this very clear throughout his reign.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • derp

      How remarkably stupid do you need to believe that the Nazi's mass murdered jews and atheists because they were.....atheist.

      You think just maybe they murdered jews and atheists and called themselves christians because they were.....christian.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Yeah Leroy,

      I thought the Nazi's made that up all by themselves and were the first to do it which can be clearly inferred by my post (sarcasm).....idiot

      April 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Leroy Porter

      @Cheeseboy –

      Don't blame me because you are too flummoxed by your own stupidity to do some research. Nazis did not coin the phrase. Go buy some pamprin you sissy.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Leroy,

      Matthew made the statement that Nazi Germany was basically an atheist state, I successfully refuted that. You are just making yourself out to be bigger moron with each post....keep it up.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Leroy Porter

      Dang @Cheesydischarge , you really are stupid. Schutzstaffel ws translated as protection Squad. Not xtian boyscouts..

      April 15, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Leroy,

      You are making the arguement that the SS were just a "protection squad" and not an intricate part of Nazi Germany? Really? You can't be this stupid.

      Your posts just keep getting better and better....can't wait for the next one.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      For Matthew, Leroy and Marvin,

      “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a
      fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded
      by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and
      summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest
      not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian
      and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord
      at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the
      Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was his fight
      against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with
      deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact
      that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross. As
      a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have
      the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is
      anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly, it is
      the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty
      to my own people. And when I look on my people I see them work and
      work and toil and labor, and at the end of the week they have only
      for their wages wretchedness and misery. When I go out in the morning
      and see these men standing in their queues and look into their
      pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very
      devil, if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two
      thousand years ago, turn against those by whom today this poor people
      are plundered and exposed.”

      [Adolf Hitler, speech in Munich on April 12, 1922]

      April 15, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Leroy Porter

      @cheesedoodle

      April 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Cogs

      @cheesedoodle

      "The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity. " Hitler 10/19/1941

      " Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery.... " 12/13/1941

      April 15, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Cogs

      Even after 1942 Hitler went on maintaining that he regarded the church as indispensable in political life. He would be happy, he said in one of those teatime talks at Obersalzberg, if someday a prominent churchman turned up who was suited to lead one of the churches - or if possible both the Catholic and Protestant churches reunited. He still regretted that Reich Bishop Müller was not the right man to carry out his far-reaching plans. But he sharply condemned the campaign against the church, calling it a crime against the future of the nation. For it was impossible, he said, to replace the church by any "party ideology." Undoubtedly, he continued, the church would learn to adapt to the political goals of National Socialism in the long run, as it had always adapted in the course of history. A new party religion would only bring about a relapse into the mysticism of the Middle Ages. The growing SS myth showed that clearly enough, as did Rosenburg's unreadable Myth of the Twentieth Century." Albert Speer – inside the third reich

      April 15, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • HM Cortez

      Well there were Christians in the German forces, English forces, French Freedom fighters, American forces , etc. Trying to tie nazism to Christianty at large to push an agenda is an idiot's errand.

      April 15, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Leroy Porter

      cheesydrawers is a danger to himself it seems.

      April 15, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • Larry

      HM Cortez
      Not at large, but the fact remains that the Nazis did see themselves as good Christians, bust like the Christians in the Allied Forces did. This speaks to the argument that, when you believe in a Holy Spirit that guides you to following God's supposed wishes, you can get polar opposite results. There are far too many people these days who have been told that their actions actually hurt people, but they push on because they are also convinced that the HS is guiding them.

      April 15, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Schwartzman cometh

      Proof is in the pudding Larry . No evidence to fully support that conjecture. The Nazi party goons were fervent nationalists. This we know. "Good Christians" as whole? Then kindly explain the thousands of clergymen that bought the farm at the Dachau concentration camp. Pheh.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:56 am |
  16. b

    next weeks assignment. after we have white power day we will imagine and write why slavery was necessary. Imagine your self a slave owner and justify why slavery is good for all involved. its a reflective article to help understand slavery and the origins and the necessity of the times.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Matthew

      LOL the author of this article is dumb and everything in this article is just wrong including his description of Nazis being Christian. They worshipped the state and Hitler, not Jesus. Hitler > God under Nazi ideology. That is why they banned the teaching of Christianity in school.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Kris

      Awesome analogy. If that "assignment" had occurred it would be case closed and this teacher would have been out on their butt. Ridiculous. This teacher is a either a completely oblivious moron or a closet anti-Semite. Either way they should be out of education for good...

      April 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @b,

      indeed. There are still plenty of people here who still proclaim the veracity of Biblical slavery – just like people in the old south did.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • chubby rain

      Matthew, the Nazis used a lot of Christian symbols and replaced Protestant Church leaders with individuals possessing more "militant" interpretations of Christian teachings. They weren't incredibly successful as many of the clergy were sent to concentration camps, but this allowed the Nazis to control a primarily Christian population. Ironically, people like you might benefit from completing this as-signment.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • derp

      I had to do that in fourth grade. Actually had a debate in the auditorium.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  17. chubby rain

    We should expect more from our students, rather than shelter them from anything that might be controversial.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  18. suncat166

    I think the teacher needs to be fired! He needs to go to the holcoust musuem and see how my family members surived during world war 2 some did not some had been in camps! These students should not be learning hate! instad theyshould be learning about the jewish faith and why? these people had to be put thruogh this!

    April 15, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • chubby rain

      The students are not learning "hate". They were learning to recognize propaganda and the mental gymnastics evil people used to make good people do evil things. Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it...

      April 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  19. lol??

    Same ol', same ol' teaching of the Hegelian Dialectic that lies at the roots of pwogwessive socialism. Otherwise known as White man speaks with forked tongue, AKA serpent talk which goes all the way to man's beginning. Socies are experts at it.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  20. Mark L.

    The best way to learn about a subject (and I think we can all agree that this is a subject that needs to be explored and not just forgotten), is to try to defend it.

    However, if this was the teachers intent, then the teacher should have explained this from the start to their students.

    I do NOT think this teacher should be forced to resign or be suspended. Just a reminder to clarify certian teaching styles when certian subjects are touched upon should be enough

    April 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • E.J. Dowd

      Agreed. You expressed it well.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.