Teaching, not indoctrination


This anthropology professor — who is not a Christian — gets it right when it comes to teaching classes where the majority of students hold beliefs that are different or even counter to his:

The key, of course, is that the stance we take on Christianity in class be distanced and yet respectful. While I may feel that I’m soaking in it, Christian students see themselves to be an embattled minority in an increasingly secular society full of professors who belittle their beliefs in lectures on evolution and secular humanism. Beating up on my Christian students for their faith in the name of cultural relativism is simply not effective anthropology.

So while I have a gimlet eye for some of Christianity’s more incongruous beliefs I am someone who actively participates in the life of their faith community, and being the guy who sings motets while everyone else takes communion — in participant-observation in the classically anthropological sense. This sense of being both insider and outsider helps, I believe, to reassure students that our my analysis of Christianity is not meant to be a partisan exercise either for or against, but a demonstration of the power of social science to make taken-for-granted topics amenable to analysis.

Go read the whole thing. It’s a refreshing counterpoint to this.

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