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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. waynerowlands

    I find it very interesting that people such as you make comments about Christians and even teach about Christians, yet it is fully apparent that you have not read the Bible. Nothing in the Bible condones killing people, especially Jews. Jews are the chosen people of God according to God himself. If someone judges anyone, God warns them that they themselves will be judged. Anyone that claims to be a Christian and believes anything other than what the Bible teaches is not a true follower of Jesus. As to you, I would recommend that you study the Bible and you will understand this. If Christians are your enemy, then you may wish to study your enemy. General George Patton said,"Know your enemy."

    April 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • oOo

      Oops – looks like someone read the article so quickly they missed the point. I hope they didn't read their Bible in similar fashion.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Nothing in the bible condones killing?

      You have not read your bible. Your god killed millions, tortured people, made people kill for no reason, and condones stoning for nothing offences.
      You can cherry pick your bible to find the nice god, but you turn a blind eye to the vidictive spiteful mighty smiter that is your god

      The bible condones killing, all through it.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Austin

      Oh no, there is a right and wrong, and a just God who knows the difference. And a holy God has the authority to justly do as He wills. And He will.

      He is Holy. He is Risen.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • waynerowlands

      Richard, apparently you have not read the Bible also. There is no place in the Bible where God says to torture people. All of those kinds of things are inspired by the evil one.. the devil. Jesus was all about love and peace. I would recommend reading the book of John and you will understand.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • oOo

      First day of Christian Sunday school: "Jesus loves you"

      First day of Christian adult Sunday school: "[apparently] you have not read the Bible"

      April 14, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      wayne
      Ahh...so satan is to blame...except your god created satan knowing full well the ramifications, and the outcome.

      Your god created satan, so your god is responsible for all satan does. (if he didn't know to the end of time, he would not be responsible, but allegedly he does, so he is.)

      April 14, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • waynerowlands

      Richard, all I know is that God has a plan. Here is what God has to say about unbelief (1 Corinthians 2:14) "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit." I personally know that I am following God's word the best that I can. I am not anyone special, I am just saved. I have a great peace inside me in knowing that God loves me and I will not be judged when I die due to the great work that Jesus did for us. What is your plan for your future?

      April 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Wayne
      You quote men and claim it is god.

      Men wrote your bible, there is not one word of it put there by any gods.

      April 14, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • waynerowlands

      Richard, Here is what God says about the Bible (2 Timothy 3: 16-17) "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

      April 14, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  2. Of course this is irrelevant to the topic?

    Hitler and his doctors wanted to be able to identify Jewish facial characteristics on people whom they were unsure had Jewish ancestry.
    They also had charts of what they considered to be perfect Aryan qualities.
    They had eye charts, hair color charts, and also measured foreheads and noses to determine what these characteristics were.
    They were using these to try and breed out/in these characteristics, via breeding homes, to try and construct the perfect Aryan specimen.

    Of course, Hitler was crazy.

    Of course, this is irrelevant to the topic.

    April 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Of course this is irrelevant to the topic?

      Austin
      "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."

      April 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Of course this is irrelevant to the topic?

      How many wicked idiot people who's primary motive is disreputing the word Christian, can't understand that Adolf Hitler was existing as the most evil man alive on the planet, and that his intentions were so far from the instructions of Christianity that obvious explanation for this history is

      Demonically inspired evil.. is the the evidence of the absence of God. This is not what a Christian is.

      Your agenda is to force your idea that the Holy Spirit and Christ are not God, or a living ministry and spiritual life, by exalting what Satan has done as the reality of what Christ will do.

      This is incredibally deceitful and evil. You are warring against God and you are dragging people to hell. You are desperate to strangle spiritual truth. You are the manifestation of spiritual death and destruction. This belongs in hell .

      April 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • .

      hitler, was an atheist

      April 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      You have one take, but there are thousands of other gods you did not address.

      Why don't you believe in the thousands of other gods?

      April 14, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Akira

      Um, yes, eye charts are irrelevant to the topic as to why the assignment may have been given.

      Eye on the ball here, sparky.

      And if you're going to c/p my post, give me the credit for it instead of acting as if it were your original thought.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      .
      You are a liar.Hitler disliked atheists, and was obsessed with the judeo-christian god, and horded religious artifacts because he believed in their power. He was never an atheist.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Of course this is irrelevant to the topic?

      how can they exercise that responsibility without coming to understand the contours of Nazi thought?
      ....................they told me confidently, because Christians would never kill Jews just for being Jews. Case closed. Time to move on to more comfortable topics.

      Ok you devil worshipping freaks, pull out the bible and show where these Nazi's learned from the bible that they were possibly called to kill Jews as Christian duty. Where has God ordained this idea? and further more where in the new testament, the new covenant where Christians, not Israel are addressed, where are Christians ordained by God to make war, genocide or murder, IN THE NAME OF CHRIST OR GOD?

      April 14, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Akira

      And, Austin, are you refuting anything I have posted?
      You didn't seem to know what they eye charts signified, so I explained them for you.
      You did ask many times.

      And eye charts STILL have no relevancy to the article topic: an assignment.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Of course this is irrelevant to the topic?

      b.s. Akira, the new testament is a light unto the world. Jesus Christ was a Jew. Satan himself, is the one who will persecute those who follow him. The Nazis were going DIRECTLY AGAINST THE ENTIRE NEW TESTAMENT, and they were a product of their own evil imagination. there is nothing in the new testament that condones the level of racist mentality that Nazi's worshiped.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Akira

      Austin.
      You are becoming irrational.
      It is painful to see you acting thusly.

      Not one person here has ever said they embrace Nazism.
      You, on the other hand, keep insisting that others are doing so...why?

      Stop it. If you'd care to learn why Nazis did what they did, do some research. If you don't care to, fine. However, the information is available to you, and it isn't up to the commenters on a blog to educate you as to why the Holocaust happened.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • salvation is for all verses, not a racist nazi motivation

      1) God works ALL things after counsel of His will
      2) God will have ALL to be saved
      3) Jesus ALWAYS does which pleases His Father
      4 Jesus sent to be the Savior of THE WORLD
      5) Jesus to do the will of God who sent Him
      6) Jesus came to save ALL
      7) Jesus gave Himself a ransom for ALL
      8) He will finish the works He was sent to do
      9) Jesus is the Savior of THE WORLD
      10) Jesus will draw ALL to Himself
      11) Jesus is able to save to the uttermost
      12) Jesus the first born of ALL creation
      13) By Him ALL things were created
      14) In Adam ALL condemned, in Christ ALL live
      15) In Adam ALL die, in Christ ALL live

      April 14, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • oOo

      LOL – is that last move like putting up garlic to ward off vampires??

      April 14, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • salvation is for all verses, not a racist nazi motivation

      It is up to me, knowing the power and life in God, to educate you on the end road for those who do not understand who and what Satan will do to you. You have been justified through name and blood of Christ. If you choose to war against God, Satan will take you captive as you follow him. I am afraid for you .

      April 14, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  3. steve

    My Take: Steven Prothero is an idiot.

    April 14, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Science

      Hoefully he knows this !

      Origin of Life: Power Behind Primordial Soup Discovered

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130404122234.htm

      The facts.............no gods needed !

      Does the RCC have any ? Bible thumpers too.

      Where do morals come from?

      By Kelly Murray, CNN

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/

      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.”

      http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/08/atheist-prof-peter-higgs-stop-calling-higgs-bosen-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... \

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/28/pope-praises-science-but-insists-god-created-world/

      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...

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/17/heaven-is-a-fairy-story-scientist-stephen-hawking-says/

      April 7th, 2012

      08:32 PM ET

      The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/07/the-jesus-debate-man-vs-myth/comment-page-137/#comment-2281915

      A wedge !

      April 14, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Science

      oops .............Hopefully

      April 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Science

      You would think he would know this too ?

      Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought

      Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130305145821.htm

      April 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • 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 11:00 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 11:01 am |
  5. Bostontola

    There is nothing wrong with giving students a controversial persuasive writing assignment. The teacher screwed up by not assigning the converse argument to half the class. Developing the skill of logical argument is laudable, but both sides should be assigned, then this would not be a big story.

    April 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Perhaps the teacher intended to give precisely that assignment to the entire class AFTER this one was completed.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • faith

      i used to be an atheist but i joined the nazis and today i believe deeply in hitler and dorothy

      April 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • The real Tom

      faith, you are just about the most boring person on these boards. Every post is idiotic and dull.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Arguing the overwhelmingly popular side of a position teaches one very little.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Austin

      THE AGENDA OF A AND A HERE FOR THIS FORUM

      "I believe in the word of Hitler because that's what Satan does, He tried to bring down the name of Christ at all costs. And I believe Hitler was a christian at all costs because i am loyal to disreputing Christ, because THIS IS THE FOUNDATION OF MY UNBELIEF HOBBY"

      April 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • .

      hitler was an atheist

      April 14, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Austin

      "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."

      April 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • oOo

      .. and it looks like his point was that those students were wrong – they had received a corn-state education on the topic

      April 14, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Akira

      Please show me where any atheist, ever, has said that, Austin.
      Nobody has *ever* said that Hitler represents Christian ideology.
      Ever.

      Dot, like it or not, Hitler *was* a Christian. He was a piss poor one, and in no way were his crimes done in the name of Christianity, which every thinking person already knows...and no atheist EVER condoned it, let alone ebraced it as a common belief.

      Oh, my goodness, people. Get a grip on yourselves.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      .
      Why do so many christians deny that Hitler was one of them.

      Hitler was raised catholic, the catholic church helped him in his rise to power, and he disliked athesists. He believed in the judeo-christian god.

      dot...you are lying.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • .

      hitler to those who knew him was an atheist, born in a catholic he never accepted that there was a God or even the gods that himmler sought after. himmler amused hitler and the gang with his nordic ramblings. hitler hated and killed Christians as readily as jews and given the opportunity would have put Christiansto death as an entire group after the Jewish solution was finished.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • oOo

      "hitler hated and killed Christians as readily as jews"

      what Christian isn't judge and "executioner" to another Christian to some degree?

      His was just extreme.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      .
      You are lying again.
      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.

      Hitler had a big problem with secularity, and did not want anyone to not believe in his god. He was obsessed with religion.

      This was during the time the catholic church was helping him rise to power.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Austin

      Richard Cranium

      Read the new testament you ignorant anti christ.

      Now where does it condone Hitlers behavior in the new testament? Put up or shut up. You all are slanderous liars. You are in a spiritual war against God hand in hand with Satan trying to deface Christianity, and the work of Christ, the Risen Lord.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " Read the new testament you ignorant anti christ. "
      Spoken like a true contemporary Christian – arrogant, condescending, and hateful.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Austin
      All I have done is tell dot idjit that it is lying.

      Hitler believed in the same god as yours and felt he was doing the work of your god.
      From Hitler himself.

      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.
      Adolf Hitler

      By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.
      Adolf Hitler

      Who says I am not under the special protection of God?
      Adolf Hitler

      God is good to the Irish, but no one else is; not even the Irish
      Adolf Hitler

      This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief
      Adolf Hitler

      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

      In the life of nations, what in the last resort decides questions is a kind of Judgment Court of God... Always before god and the world the stronger has the right to carry through what he wills.
      speech in Munich, 13 April 1923
      Adolf Hitler

      It would have been more to the point, more honest and more Christian, in past decades not to support those who intentionally destroyed healthy life than to rebel against those who have no other wish than to avoid disease. Moreover, a policy of laissez faire in this sphere is not only cruelty to the individual guiltless victims but also to the nation as a whole... If the Churches were to declare themselves ready to take over the treatment and care of those suffering from hereditary diseases, we should be quite ready to refrain from sterilizing them.
      speech, 30 January 1934
      Adolf Hitler

      I say that they can be solved; there is no problem that cannot be, but faith is necessary. Think of the faith I had to have eighteen years ago, a single man on a lonely path. Yet I have come to leadership of the German people... Life is hard for many, but it is hardest if you are unhappy and have no faith. Have faith. Nothing can make me change my own belief.
      speech in Nuremberg, 12 September 1936
      Adolf Hitler

      Very strange things for an atheist to say, but not so much for the christian that he was.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Austin

      @ midwest rail, where are those new testament verses condoning the thought of Nazis? can you find just one?

      April 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Another interesting deflection. Could you possibly be more intellectually dishonest than you already are ?

      April 14, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Austin

      Who cares that Hitler claimed to be a Godly man? What I am asking you is to justify his murderous acts and mentality, linking these through hitlers obedience to scripture. That is the entire point. Hitler was acting on his own evil imagination which has nothing to do with the new testament, and the purpose of Jesus Christ.

      Nothing Hitler was doing was justified by Christian rationale. are schitzo people who claim to be JC deemed as Christians?

      You INSIST that Hitler was a christian, because you are pushing a demonic scandal.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Anything to deflect legitimate criticism, right Austin ? Lying included. Dismissed.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Austin

      Midwest Rail, you know for a fact that nothing in the new testament condones what Hitler did . There is absolutely nothing linking Nazi thought to the Christian doctrine except disobedience, and evil.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • midwest rail

      See previous reply.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Austin

      Midwest Rail, you are an ignorant anti-christ as well. Where is nazi thought comparable to what the new testament or Jesus Christ instructs Christians to do? What New testament verses inspired the Nazi's ?

      April 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • midwest rail

      See previous replies.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Austin

      Case closed, you are equivalent to the pawn of Adolf Hitler because you post his words as fair and accurate.

      You spit in God's face with your demonic game of slander, and you exploit the evils of Hitler for your own cause of defaming Christianity. What sick perverts you are.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • clarity

      Oh my – look at is this way, Austin. The ELCA already performs gay marriage. We're talking about a Christian organization of some over 4 million members. And they are not alone – there are other organizations with similar views on gay marriage with members numbering in the millions. Now you might say that they have "anti-Christ-like" qualities. You might also accuse the Catholic Pope similarly, but perhaps for different reasons. That's not exactly "minor" disagreements when you call another Christian out in that way – saying they exude "anti-Christ-like" qualities. Knowing there are these great disparities among Christians, why is it so difficult for anyone to imagine that Hitler was simply another Christian with yet another interpretation of "the Word"?

      April 14, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Wrong again, troll. Show me any post where I quoted Hitler, or even mentioned him. Still clinging desperately to that intellectual dishonesty, I see.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Damocles

      @austin

      There isn't much difference between goose-stepping in rhythm to an invisible deity or a person who thinks they are a deity.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Austin

      Where is the scripture linking nazi thought to the new testament?

      April 14, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • midwest rail

      You asserted that I quoted Hitler. Where is that link ?

      April 14, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Austin
      Hitler believed in your god, and he felt justified by your bible and his belief that he was doing gods work.

      You seem to have a problem with someone justifying the actions of someone like Hitler through his belief and his bible.

      Though you are outraged that Hitler did indeed use his christian belief to justify some of his worst actions, it is fact.

      Perhaps you can take it as a warning that though you may feel justified in your actions because of your beliefs, your beliefs do not ACTUALLY justify everything, and your beliefs are subject to your viewpoint... case in point...Hitler was christian, and believed that he was doing gods work. Just because you are outraged, he felt he was in the right. Don't get angry with everyone else just because history shows you and Hitler have your faith in common...obviously you two interpret it differently...but that is between you and Hitler.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Austin

      arrogant.........or with correctness

      condescending, and hateful i hate evil and your agenda that encourages people to go to hell through this scam .

      April 14, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Still deflecting ? Where is that link, Austin ?

      April 14, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Austin lies for his God

      Case closed.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Damocles

      You hate evil, yet are ever so willing to follow a deity that acts like an evil child. Strange.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      austin
      "you are equivalent to the pawn of Adolf Hitler because you post his words as fair and accurate"

      You are lying. I never said any such thing. I merely show you some of Hitlers own words to show you that he was christian (called himself christian) and that he did not like atheists.

      You are trying to read too much into this, and getting personnally offended, which I can only take to mean, you are an idiot who cannot see reality, nor can you distinguish ones words from ones point.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Austin

      You seem to have a problem with someone justifying the actions of someone like Hitler through his belief and his bible.

      This is demonic deception Richard. HE WAS NOT JUSTIFIED THROUGH THE BIBLE. who cares what he believed?

      HE WAS NOT JUSTIFIED THROUGH THE BIBLE, THEREFORE CHRISTIANITY IS NOT LINKED TO NAZI THOUGHT.

      THERE IS NO LINK TO THE NEW TESTAMENT, WHICH IS CHRISTIANITY, AND NAZI THOUGHT.

      You have no truthful reason to imply anyting about Hitler and his bible and justification.

      April 14, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • oOo

      Austin, I am glad that your notion of Christianity is not linked to Nazi thought. However it's good to keep in mind that is your personal interpretation of the Bible. The Christian down the street from you in with crosses and swastikas hanging on his walls has quite a different interpretation.

      April 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  6. faith

    BREAKING NEWS

    dorothy plans on getting a job

    when? no one knows and she isn't saying

    April 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • What difference would that Make?

      The real Tom
      Why don't you tell us, Austin? You know you want to.

      Should we explain what the eye ball chart was about ? Is it even worth it ? They dont care any way.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • faith

      100 out of every 100 nazis were monks

      April 14, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Reply button still a mystery is it? Why don't you tell everyone why you think Hitler had an eyeball chart? Or are you just going to stall some more?

      April 14, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Akira

      Faith Biggles, who is dorothy? Please answer.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • faith

      my uncle was a nazi and when he didn't take communion one day, they shot him. true story. ask dorothy

      April 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Akira

      Well, faith, I would ask dorothy, if I knew who the heck you were talking about.
      Is she a figment of your imagination?
      I keep asking you, and you keep evading the question.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • faith

      dorothy spends every waking moment on this forum asking xtards to tell her who wrote mark.

      I LOVE DOROTHY

      you love her, too and the world will be a better place

      heil dorothy

      April 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Akira

      Are you talking about the poster clarity?
      Oh, nonsense.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  7. please dont call me anti-semite

    knowing the kind of control on the media a particular group has and seeing everyday the way they mis-use the media/connections/politics and mastered the game of propaganda, and also observing the kind of some recent manufactured publicity stunts by this group to better the cause of their own companies/people/power etc.. i just have a thought that many here don't seem to have.. that is may be the teacher was paid or part of the plan to create this in order for the machinery to reiterate certain things that the group would like to force upon people..

    April 14, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Akira

      Are you trying to imply that this teacher was paid by someone to give this assignment?

      April 14, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • please dont call me anti-semite

      @Akira – yes, that is exactly what i am saying in the back-drop of the kind of world manipulation that happens these days... she may well be just a tool to invent this discussion.. honestly, there is a good chance that i may be wrong.. but i wouldn't be surprised if that was true.. which we will never know anyways..

      April 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, bushwa. Conspiracy theories are so laughable.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Damocles

      Yes, the teacher was paid... to teach. I think tough issues need to be tackled in school as quickly as possible. If some pepole feel squeamish about talking about the past, then by all means feel free to opt out of the class but do not make it impossible for other kids to learn.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Akira

      Well, I respectfully disagree that there is any conspiracy to resurrect the Nazi ideology via an assignment.
      And all they have to do to find out her intentions is *ask* her.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  8. biggles

    Hitler was the second coming. Atheists love Hitler. He was terribly devout. We know there is a god cause Hitler was it. Dorothy is the Third Coming. She will complete the trifecta

    April 14, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Delusional idiocy.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Mo

      What about Toto?

      April 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • Christian forgiveness

      Atheists lovedHitler?? Wow, that is truly a stupid comment as 20% of Hitler's SS were practicing Carholics. Let us not forget our most recent pope, the Nazi Ratzinger.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • What difference would that Make?

      20% ? wow that is an astounding number retard.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Akira

      I have to assume that, whoever this "dorothy" is, she wields great power in biggle's mind, since biggles is clearly afraid of here.
      I still haven't gotten a satisfactory answer from either biggles OR faith as to who this legendary "dorothy" is...Dorothy Gale or Elmo's fish, Dorothy?

      Clearly, this "dorothy" is veddy scawy.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • The real Tom

      And why would you imagine that most Nazis were atheists, when even NOW, atheists are in the minority by a large margin?

      The idiot here is you.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Doroth

      I am Dorothy and I am your mother.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Austin

      What were the eye ball charts for? I dont know can someone other than a Christian please explain to me WHAT WERE THE EYEBALL CHARTS FOR?

      April 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • The real Tom

      If you don't know anything about them, Austin, then how do you know they even existed?

      My word, but you are an imbecile.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Akira

      Ok.
      Hitler and his doctors wanted to be able to identify Jewish facial characteristics on people whom they were unsure had Jewish ancestry.
      They also had charts of what they considered to be perfect Aryan qualities.
      They had eye charts, hair color charts, and also measured foreheads and noses to determine what these characteristics were.
      They were using these to try and breed out/in these characteristics, via breeding homes, to try and construct the perfect Aryan specimen.

      Of course, Hitler was crazy.

      Of course, this is irrelevant to the topic.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Akira

      I might add that Hitler was uncertain of his own ancestry, and his own looks were far from his "Aryan" ideal; both of which made him, in addition to being one of the world's biggest monsters, one of the world's biggest hypocrites.

      But, we already knew that.

      April 14, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  9. What difference would that Make?

    Austin
    ??? Why did Hitler have an eye ball chart???

    What difference would that make?
    The fact is, he believed in your god, and disliked atheists.
    Do you have a point, or are you just off your meds again?

    April 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • What difference would that Make?

      You are a pitiful lying piece of crap.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • What difference would that Make?

      "You engage in deflection to excuse any wrong doing by your chosen side."

      you see, when you blame the devil's works on the righeouss ministry of the Holy Spirit, you are the human manifestation of a demonic circle of demented accusers. You are liars. Adolf Hitler was and never will be on the side of Christianity.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Hitler was a Christian

      Sorry, but I'm afraid it's true, even more true than true-blue.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • .

      hitler was an atheist.

      April 14, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  10. Austin

    Why did Hitler have charts of different eye balls?

    April 14, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • midwest rail

      You're seeing a whole team of therapists, aren't you ?

      April 14, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Austin

      Midwest Rail.......why did Hitler have charts with different eye balls?

      April 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • midwest rail

      What relevance does that have to the story ? You engage in deflection to excuse any wrong doing by your chosen side. It is the worst form of intellectual dishonesty.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The better to see you with, Austin.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Why don't you tell us, Austin? You know you want to.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  11. Bleh

    The poor little leftists (socialists) are mad. But then, their left wing professors are in the clear for whatever bunk they preach (indoctrinate) on a daily basis.

    April 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Nonsense.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Really-O?

      10-to-1 Bleh doesn't know the meaning of "socialist".

      April 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Really-O?

      ...actually, that's a sucker's bet as Bleh's post demonstrates that he believes "leftist" and "socialist" are synonyms.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The extent of what this one thinks it knows:

      Big government & Higher Taxes = Bad

      Higher education = charlatans, swindlers and worse

      God is Great (oops, that sounds Muslim – I mean "God is Very Good")

      April 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  12. The real Tom

    What's really funny is seeing Austin get himself all bent out of shape about this assignment. If your own belief is so strong, Austin, then why would writing a persuasive paper be so threatening? If your god is so awesome, why are you so terrified and angry when people question your beliefs?

    April 14, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Austin

      I am really enjoying myself today Tommie.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • The real Tom

      Doing what? Smoking weed? That last post of yours looks like it came from a brain-dead stoner.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • amy

      Maybe something like this already happened to Austin, Tom. Maybe that was the signal that resulted in remedial reading assignment.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Austin

      drugs are bad. so is pretending that Hitler was a Christian. So is pretending that false prophets, doctrine, and apostate church is not t a satanic work.

      Mimicry is bad. War that is not ordained by is what Satan taught man to. Not discerning the satanic presence in Adolf Hitler is a disgusting blindness that only serves Satan and exemplifies spiritual death.

      22“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,c your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are unhealthy,d your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

      April 14, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • amy

      Austin says 'So is pretending that false prophets, doctrine, and apostate church is not t a satanic work.'

      This is what one type of Christian says about the next type of Christian.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Austin
      Hitler was a christian, raised catholic and actually did not like 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 12:00 pm |
    • Austin

      What is the difference between the slaughter of the Cannanites, and the slaughter of post resurrection Jews? Do you know the correct answer?

      April 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Austin

      Is Marolyn Manson a christian? He went to christian school. Moby Schtick was a pastor.

      Why did Hitler have charts of different eye balls?

      April 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Austin
      ??? Why did Hitler have an eye ball chart???

      What difference would that make?
      The fact is, he believed in your god, and disliked atheists.
      Do you have a point, or are you just off your meds again?

      April 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  13. Austin

    lets teach ourselves about the circus, and we can put on animal costumes and crawl around on the floor and make animal noises, and bite each other.

    April 14, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      okay, I want to be a PIG, oink oink

      April 14, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Austin

      I want to eat you now! I am a lion. Roar!

      April 14, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  14. Socash

    I wonder if Dr. Prothero reads these comment threads and, if so, how much faith in humanity he loses each time he does.

    April 14, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • midwest rail

      No need to lose anything. The vast majority of these comments are hardly representative of a majority on either side of the aisle.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  15. TTMich

    The dumb teacher is a product of a substandard education system. If s/he thought this subject was the best idea, s/he should ask 1/2 of the class to write about the "Jew is evil", and 1/2 of the class to write about "the Nazi is evil".
    t is even better if the class was asked to do the persuasive writing about "The teacher is evil"!

    II don't know what kind of "scholar" Stephen Prothero is, but this kind of harmful argument has been tearing apart the country!!

    April 14, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • The real Tom

      How is it "tearing apart the country"?

      April 14, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      So your advice is to assume that "the jew" and "the Nazi" are on equal moral footing? The assignment assumes that the Nazis were wrong. It seems odd that you disagree with that approach.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Austin

      "acting out a nazi mindset" is not a profitable exercise in any way. This is foolishness. We should not portray foolishness lest the vulernable idiot take hold of it or be overcome with the temptations of the devil.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Austin

      If it is not enough you you to be told or read the history, and you have to "pretend and make believe" to manipulate your mind then you are a freak.

      You are a pompous freaky circus act in your head.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Roger

      If you have a simple mind, then yes, Austin, best not attempt such exercises. But speak just for yourself, please.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, look, Austin's going to lecture everyone about school.

      This should be funny.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Austin

      Ok then, I see, in case there are little adolfs in class we can manipulate the classes emotions to try to prevent the rise of adolf?

      Thank God for education where we finally understand that we should not starve and kill people. What would we do without you professor?

      April 14, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • The real Tom

      My word. I didn't think you were really that stupid.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      "What would we do without you professor?" Probably if you were never asked to give issues like this any thought you would be as susceptible as anyone to being influenced by a popular culture that thinks it's ok to be openly hostile towards some group you are encouraged to think of as "other" and inferior. And if a charismatic maniac came along to exploit such ideas you'd be among those waving the flags and cheering him on.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  16. The real Tom

    Having students understand how the Nazis rationalized their behavior and how supposedly "good" Germans ignored it or condoned it would go much further toward preventing such horrors in the future–because students would recognize that these people who came to do such monstrous things were not so different from anyone else.

    April 14, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Me II

      +1

      April 14, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Mipochka

      right, the great majority never wrote propaganda essays. I teach Russian history, and I have never ever assigned an essay in which people are asked to think as if they were in the NKVD, ripping into others as "class enemies," "wreckers," and so on.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Austin

      The were different than me. I recognize how in the fifties when the t.v. came out the world started having little kazoos and flags and cheering on the soldiers, and putting the war on t.v. and flying jets over ball games, the government uses the media to popularize war. And people are so shallow, that they sit there and take it in like zombies.

      The part in this article about Christians, is really just another irrelevant characteristic of gullible and dumb people. Dumb culture. these were the same whig wearing freaky type anglo's that think they are way better and deserve at all cost to one up themselves finally. this is way more of a demonic evil than anything else.

      This has nothing to do with God, or Christ, and everything to do with evil.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • The real Tom

      "The great majority never wrote propaganda essays." The great majority of what? Germans?

      April 14, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • The real Tom

      Austin, please translate that mess of stupid into English.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Austin

      We are now in need of having our emotions manipulated? is that brainwashing? we must go beyond logic, moral, and reason?

      Now we should really really trust OUR emotions?

      April 14, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • The real Tom

      Austin must have gone to "special classes."

      April 14, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Christian forgiveness

      When the Nazis came for the communists,
      I remained silent;
      I was not a communist.

      When they locked up the social democrats,
      I remained silent;
      I was not a social democrat.

      When they came for the trade unionists,
      I did not speak out;
      I was not a trade unionist.

      When they came for the Jews,
      I remained silent;
      I wasn't a Jew.

      When they came for me,
      there was no one left to speak out.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  17. Me II

    @Stephen Prothero,
    Good article, thank you.

    In addition, isn't this a common method of teaching critical thinking, i.e. argue the side that you don't agree with.

    April 14, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Socash

      It is, but considering the bulk of the comments here are based on emotion and ignorance, that tract won't get you very far, sadly.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  18. Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_q1cXSM_6o

    April 14, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Christian forgiveness

      Hawkings is no idiot. But making such a ridiculous assertion is truly idiotic.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  19. Mipochka

    The assignment gets it so terribly wrong. People in Germany were not required to "prove" anything in this video-game-like way. Many loved the Nazis. They had to "prove" mainly that they wanted to get ahead, make a career, live more joyfully, and buy more things.

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

    King David killed Uriah the Hitti.te because he coveted Uriah's wife. The level of corruption in this was on a satanic level. God's elect committed a crime and trecherous sin.

    The plea for help from the Jew's to America was ignored by the U.S. at the onset of their deportation. America's leaders turned their back on the rising situation. With that in mind, the forces and acts against the Jews should be seen as a global following and submission to satanic evil.

    As we see going through the New Testament, we see that there is great and abounding discussion about false docrine and Churches that do not pass the test. This may be directly applied to a group of murderous people who commit genocide.

    A mocking atheist or God hater, could easily say, "look what these religious nuts did, this is what happens." but that would be no more than the sick demented pleasure of a hell bound soul exploiting the works of the devil, a great evil of genocide, and attributing Satans great work to a supposedly "dead religion."

    What a cheap shot. The resurrection of the Lord has all ready taken place. There is more to come , both good and evil. All things work to the purpose and glory of God.

    God allows evil leaders to dominate this world before Christs return, and this antichrist will punish the ones who follow him. God is going to let your god punish you for following him. So you can get crafty with your cheap shot,

    but THE TRICK IS ON YOU!

    April 14, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • The real Tom

      Why are you here instead of observing the Sabbath?

      April 14, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Austin

      Sabbath was made for man. I am in to the Mosaic law.

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

      Oh, really? And that absolves you of any need to attend church services? How convenient.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Austin

      Tom, what is this that you assume? did in not allready explain to you that I have saturday night church, church service on sunday at 8:30, 10:45, or 12:30, and i also attend sunday night service at 6 pm? I go saturday and sunday night on a regular basis. I have bible study with a men's group saturday morning.

      April 14, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • The real Tom

      So? Does that mean you can get on here and talk smack without repercussions? Does that mean the best way to spend the rest of your time is on here?

      April 14, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Christian forgiveness

      You my friend, are a loon.

      April 14, 2013 at 12:44 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.