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. Ralph Goldheim

    You Sir are a Jew Hater, plain and simple. Henry Ford would have proud of you. I hope we meet up somewhere.

    April 14, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • The real Tom

      Who are you talking to? Prothero? The teacher? What makes you think they "hate" Jews? Do you think teachers who assign students to write a persuasive piece about slavery from the point of view of the white plantation owner "hates African Americans"?

      April 14, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • laraine

      real tom–you don't have to be eaten by an alligator to appreciate that an alligator is capable of eating you. And you don't have to pretend to justify a Nazi in order to recognize their inhumanity. Some things are better studied at arm's length.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • The real Tom

      I disagree. If what you want is to have students write some superficial blather about what they "would have done", then fine. You do that. If what you want is to have them really think, then you would need to go a little further than "arm's length."

      April 14, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  2. Princess of the city

    The real problem with this assignment is that it is not age appropriate. As a retired History high school teacher I was well
    aware of the maturity levels of my varied classes. Tenth grade students are too young to deal with the provocative nature
    of the assignment. What the teacher and this professor should realize is that in high school the teacher has a "captive"
    audience because the students are required by law to be there. The students cannot walk out of class if bothered by an
    assignment nor can they really refuse to do the assignment without a penalty. In college one has the freedom to choose
    their classes and leave (of course there is financial loss). Another important aspect is that before one gives such an
    assignment one must be certain that the students have all of the facts. Too often teachers give this assignment without
    good information.

    April 14, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • The real Tom

      What do you know about this teacher's students? Do you think all 10th grade classes are the same?

      April 14, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  3. Ada Minkin

    As an educator AND a child of two Holocaust survivors who grew up knowing the horrors of ALL my ancestors having been tortured, then incinerated like garbage, I cannot even begin to fathom the benefits of such an assignment.

    Would it not have made more sense to have the students use their HIGHER level thinking skills to expound on what THEY would have individually DONE as citizens of Nazi-occupied Europe? Some creative problem-solving, not mean kindergarten role-play, would have been not only more appropriate but also more sensitive to one of man's darkest roles in modern history.

    No fodder is necessary to feed anti-Semitism as so much globally exists today. Shame on you for even considering assigning this same thesis to your own students!

    April 14, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • The real Tom

      Doesn't it occur to you that most high school students have very little knowledge of the Holocaust? The goal of the assignment wasn't to foster hatred of Jews–it was to show how people rationalize hatred of groups and what such rationalization can lead to.

      April 14, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Completely disagree, Ada. Sometimes it takes a little shock to expose the depths of vast ignorance. I feel the lesson was a great benefit to the minds of the students.

      April 14, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • The real Tom

      And what do you suppose most kids would say they "would have done" when confronted with evil? How well do you think most of them understand what kinds of evils were committed and what the consequences of fighting against it would have been? They might claim they'd be courageous and give up their lives rather than support the Nazis. What would they learn from an assignment like that? Nothing.

      April 14, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • laraine

      Even better, let the students do research on the Holocaust and write a paper on what could have, should have happened at any stage to stop it from happening. I hadn't even heard of the Holocaust until high school and only then because I read Exodus. That book influenced my life. Studying the Holocaust should be mandatory; expecting a high schooler to study the depth of human depravity and somehow justify it is way beyond their experience. Or, actually, beyond the experience of most of us with any sense of humanity.

      April 14, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • D

      I agree. I cannot even imagine how a student would feel if they were Jewish in that class or had great-grandparents involved in the Holocaust. Could you imagine being a Jewish student and having an assignment handed out to write why you are evil? And knowing that your classmates had to state why you are evil? I really don't understand how anyone can justify this assignment. There are ways to have students test their own morality without this assignment.

      April 15, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  4. laraine

    Is the writer trying to justify christians that supported or even actively engaged in murder? Seems like it. And it also seems that he has poor judgement and a weak idea of right and wrong. Recently the Holocaust and slavery have become subjects for teachers with no concept of what those things really meant. Assignments involving slaves as word problems and Jews as legitimate targets don't demonstrate any type of creativity or imagination–they show a callous disregard of humanity and a supremely smug lack of compassion and understanding. Articles like this only increase my contempt for so-called Christians who display none of the virtues that they attribute to Jesus. Interesting that "thinking outside of the box" involves what looks like condoning the murder and inhumanity people have shown blacks and Jews.

    April 14, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • The real Tom

      Conveniently ignoring the fact that the great majority of Nazis were Christians, aren't you?

      April 14, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Austin

      15“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith ind Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

      17“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

      19“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”e

      April 14, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • The real Tom

      Austin, quoting the bible is just lame. Why aren't you in church?

      April 14, 2013 at 10:52 am |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    April 14, 2013 at 7:46 am |
    • Science

      Where do morals come from?

      By Kelly Murray, CNN


      Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”


      Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
      Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \



      Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
      By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...


      April 7th, 2012

      08:32 PM E
      The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth


      April 14, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • use-your-head

      The Nazis not only killed Jews they killed many more RUSSIANS AND GERMANS as I recall. It is a mistake to focus on Jews as if they were the main victims of that insane evil. Many Christians were killed too and many just kept their mouths shut in order to survive. Theologians back then liked to eat three meals a day and to keep their jobs – is that a surprise to anyone? The lesson should have been more general – "What To Do When Facing Evil – Political Or Otherwise".

      April 14, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • Austin

      @ use your head. Then again, is is about the jews. They were the ones put on a train and sent to camps to be exterminated and starved. Was hitler doing that to a special "breed" of Russians? There is no reason to take the emphasis off of the Jews.

      April 14, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Science

      Origin of Life: Power Behind Primordial Soup Discovered


      April 14, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      April 15, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data, has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!

      April 15, 2013 at 10:56 am |
  6. A good reason

    Isn't the nazi party a good reason that we (as humanity)should learn not to be mean to one another on the basis of religion(s)? Even if someone's belief system(s) are different from our own they are still people.

    April 14, 2013 at 7:22 am |
    • .

      atheists have long been known to hate and murder everyone else. atheist nazis killed jews, christians, gypsies, communists, mos basically everyone including themselves.

      April 14, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Nazi's were not atheists.
      During negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of April 26, 1933 Hitler stated that "Secular schools can never be tolerated" because of their irreligious tendencies.

      April 14, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  7. He carried the Cross for us...

    When He Prayed In The Garden
    It Was Us That He Did See
    Knowing That He Had To Die
    So We Could Be Set Free

    When He Stood Before The People
    And They Shouted, “Put Him On The Cross
    He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels
    But He Knew That We Were Lost

    When They Stripped Him Of His Rode
    And Beat Him To The Ground
    He Could Have Called His Angels
    But Choose Not To Make A Sound

    FOr It Was His Love So Great
    Yes His Love For Us
    That Made Him Stay Right There
    For It Knew It Was A Must

    As He Walked Up That Road
    With Each And Every Step
    He Could Have Used His Power
    But It Was His Love That Keep

    Him Moving Towards That Hill
    Where He Knew That He Would Bare
    Our Sins Upon His Chest
    Oh How Greatly He Does Care

    The Nails, They Were Driven
    Into His Feet And Hands
    For It Was The Only Way
    To Complete A Mighty Plan

    There In The Middle
    Of Two Thieves They Placed His Cross
    What Did He See That Day
    He Seen How We Were Lost

    He Could Have Called His Angels
    And They Would Have Come Indeed
    But It Was Us That He Knew
    Who Would Be In Great Need

    Our Sins, There Have Been Many
    Yes Many In Our Day
    These Sins He Paid In Full
    Because He Choose To Stay
    Upon That Cross He Won
    Our Battle To The End
    Upon That Cross He Bearried
    All Of The Sins

    All The Sins Of Those
    Who Are Covered In His Blood
    Yes He Carrried That Cross For Us
    All Becasue It’s Us He Loves

    – – – written by Cathy Jo Moore

    April 14, 2013 at 6:56 am |
    • Franklin

      He gave his life so that you and I can have forgiveness of life. He gave his life for the jews and the gentiles. He loves all of them equally. He has paid the sin debt in full on that cross. His resurrection offers you Prothero life eternal if you choose to accept Him. No one could take his life, he gave his life.

      April 14, 2013 at 7:02 am |
    • Science

      Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
      By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...


      April 14, 2013 at 7:27 am |
  8. Bob1god

    I knew , before clicking, that this was u, Stephan, u secret Nazi u!

    April 14, 2013 at 2:54 am |
  9. HarryGP

    This article is one of the reasons I do not own a TV. It is because the programming is just that, programming. If you turn on a TV, you see endless violence and gore. The more the better, so they say, to sell products and "challenge" values... change values. It is to take away good and have people think evil, and feel right thinking it. That is wrong. The programs tell people to kill, reject God, laugh at people doing good, or say it's too boring to be good, so be evil instead so you "live life to the fullest, you only live once, flame out fast". It's all wrong, but it's said it's right. Instead of teaching kids why it was wrong to mass murder people, they were being taught to think like someone wanting to mass murder people, and get a high score for it if they do well. This is the violent video game theology, where you get high scores for the most people killed in a game. It's all programming of kids to reject God for nothing and death, rather than life with God.

    April 14, 2013 at 1:58 am |
    • HarryGP

      Remember Lot's wife.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:07 am |
    • Science

      Hey Harry P.............Facts work when teaching children

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”


      April 14, 2013 at 6:32 am |
    • Science

      By the way Harry.................facts make learning FUN !

      April 14, 2013 at 7:13 am |
  10. Austin

    If the assignment does not point at satanic deception, then the assignment IS satanic deception.

    April 14, 2013 at 1:53 am |
    • midwest rail


      April 14, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  11. Austin

    Why wasn't the assignment about satanic deception?

    April 14, 2013 at 1:51 am |
    • The real Tom

      Because the teacher was talking about something real, lamebrain.

      April 14, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      Because they don't teach mythology as truth in public schools.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  12. PaulH

    When I did debate in high school we were routinely assigned to defend positions we didn't personally believe in. What on earth is wrong with this exercise?

    April 14, 2013 at 1:24 am |
    • HarryGP

      Teaching kids to prove it's good to mass murder people?

      April 14, 2013 at 1:43 am |
    • Austin

      It mocks the ministry of the Holy Spirit accusing it of being capable of genocide. It uses the name of Christ in Christian in a genocide, of Jews and Christ was a Jew, and sidesteps the reality of the satanic work and working in this entire matter , then and now.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • Jesus freaker

      It mocks the ministry of the Holy Spirit accusing it of being capable of genocide.

      As if Christianity has a clean track record When a Christian commits an immoral act, you conveniently blame it on the devil. Nice.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:12 am |
    • MalcolmA

      I was involved with debate teams as well. Debates on gun control, abortion, Middle East peace, etc. provide opportunities for the truth to come out and are based on a common, positive goal and/or conflicting goods that require tradeoffs. There is no truth in Nazism and arguing for it achieves no positive goal. There is no base for debate here. Encouraging pro-Nazi arguments in the guise of a high school exercise in persuasive writing is evil. Full stop. If the assignment were a persuasive writing piece on how to counter pro-Nazi arguments - even if it means exposure to that trash - I would have no problem with it. I would also have no problem with a persuasive writing exercise on what the Albany schools superintendent should do in response. I sincerely hope you see the difference.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:23 am |
  13. Austin

    The same satanic deception that caused religious people to form a movement to kill Jews inspires heathen pagans to state that the ministry of the Holy Spirit provoked the crusaders Or the holocaust .

    Satanic deception and compliance caused king David to kill Uriah the Hitti.te.

    April 14, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • faith

      "religious people to form a movement to kill Jews" bull crap dorothy

      April 14, 2013 at 1:10 am |
    • Austin

      What you mean faith? "religious people" are the same crazy empirical colonialists that were kkk and slave drivers. I don't think they were true Christians at all. They were followers of the deceiver.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • PaulH

      You can disavow them til the cows come home, but sometimes religious people do very bad things, don't they? Your position is like saying that Christianity works, except when it doesn't, or when Christians go really evil. Then it's not the fault of Christianity, but some invisible bad thing. Sure, we'll buy that! Why not?

      April 14, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • Dorothy

      The Lord is RIsen.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • tallulah13

      Jack is Lord.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:33 am |
    • Austin

      Paul, every Christian faces a daily battle to repent. Christians today form massive idolatry, wither it be the war machine, or alcohol, they portray
      Christ with mans reputation. this is sin. ips Christ the minister of sin as all men will always be found as sinners? Certainly not. And it is Satan who deceives people. The temptations are attacks with the intent to destroy.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • Austin

      From within the realm of religion will come apostate Christianity and this is prophetically forecasted. It would be likely without a prophecy.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:41 am |
    • faith

      BY: Interview by Dena Ross
      On the outside, things seemed great for guitarist Brian "Head" Welch. He was a member of one of the most popular heavy metal bands of the '90s, Korn, he had lots of money, and he was partying with some of the biggest names in the music industry. But behind the fame, Grammy Awards, and Billboard hits, Welch was battling many demons–an addiction to crystal meth, depression, and what he described as evil of a spiritual kind. It was only after hitting rock bottom that he found what he believed was missing in his life–God."

      name that movement dottie

      April 14, 2013 at 1:56 am |
  14. Sunny Meriwether

    Thank you! Sane, well-reasoned, and cogent commentary.

    April 14, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • HarryGP

      The assignment should have been to show why people were fighting against Nazism, not why they should be for it.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:39 am |
  15. Reality

    The better, easier and safer assignment for all concerned: Convince the Boston U's administration that Religion Department's name should be changed to the Mostly Myth Department. We can help by providing the proper study guides for the assignment and some ideas about retraining the likes of Stevie P.

    April 13, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
    • HarryGP

      Atheism is a myth. If you want to teach that, you will have to find people willing to pay money to trust nothing, learn about nothing, and think about nothing.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • Completely clueless

      I'm with HarryGP on this one.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:05 am |
    • faith

      "We can help by providing the proper study guides for the assignment and some ideas about retraining the likes of Stevie P." Dorothy lol

      your ideas can't clear the most generous "peers" you don't have. they don't consider you to be on or even near the same level as they. you aren't. it is true.

      don't you agree little tom thumb the moron?

      you should consider having your thoughts on hitler's devotion to jesus Christ published in academic circles. that would surely boost your sagging book sales and give you the kind of cred you've been trying to barter for all this time

      April 14, 2013 at 1:06 am |
    • Reality

      Let the retraining begin:

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

      The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,


      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      April 14, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Reality

      Retraining Part II:


      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      April 14, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • Reality

      And for those who are reading or eye-challenged:




      Added details upon request.

      April 14, 2013 at 8:20 am |
  16. trainwreck

    And while in high school I wrote a paper about being a Nazi and crashed cars on the highway in my spare time.

    April 13, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
  17. The real Tom

    What's really telling is the lack of any critical thinking skills among those who are "horrified" by the objective of the assignment. If you can't figure out what the exercise achieves, it's your lack of imagination and creativity that's at fault. Try to figure out what a student might learn from this.

    Is it REALLY that much of a mystery to you?

    April 13, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Too many people are afraid of what they'll find when they are actually asked to dig into the unsavory side of their inner lives. Me, racist? A homophobe? Never! Except in my darkest thoughts, or if you push the right buttons.

      April 13, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • Debbie

      They could achieve their goals using other examples which won't be insensitive and bigoted. So who are the people who lack creativity? How about using their own religion and their own culture. If you believe there isn't propaganda about your religion and culture, you are quite mistaken.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • The real Tom

      Why should the instructor use any other example? There's nothing wrong with using the Nazis for such an exercise. How do you suppose Nazism got a foothold? By showing how people were able to rationalize its tenets, the exercise can reveal that "normal" people, god-fearing "good Germans" committed these sorts of atrocities or ignored the fact that they were being committed by others.

      When people attempt to paint the Nazis as "monsters" and therefore "not human", we remove the possibility that any of us could commit horrors just as they and the people who put them in power did.

      April 14, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  18. Al

    Which one of Mel Gibson's children is a teacher?

    April 13, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
  19. DigiGrrl

    Seriously? Are you going there? Really, nothing wrong with this assignment? Everything is wrong with this assignment. Much like accidental racist, also wrong. So so wrong.

    April 13, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Then you should be able to articulate precisely WHAT it "wrong" about it. When are you going to get around to that? Or are you incompetent?

      April 13, 2013 at 11:21 pm |

    @Austin, FREEDOM is not free, so we muslims, in any country, don't care, let Hindu, Jew, Christian enjoy FREEDOM, we don't need it, no thanks

    April 13, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
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About this blog

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.