There has been a lot of talk recently about an Albany, NY, teacher who assigned students the task of writing a paper advocating Nazi ideology and theology. A State Senator demanded she be fired. There was discussion on Christian websites and even a post here. The teacher felt terrible and was placed on a leave of absence.
The problem here is not the teacher. It is myths about Hitler’s Nazi Party that keep being repeated.
Author Stephen Prothero used to have his students read and write about a book, Theologians Under Hitler (Robert P. Erickson). Nazi Christian theology taught that a good Christian hates Jews because Jews killed Christ. Prothero used the book to teach students the wide variety of Christian beliefs that have and continue to exist.
The belief that Hitler was an atheist is so ingrained in the U. S. mind it is hard to fathom he was actually a Christian. That is why the student assignment seems so strange to people.
To teach about real history causes some Christians, and nonChristians as well, to have insecurities. If students learn the bad stories of our family, country or religion maybe they will stray into something else. Of course, it is always important that students are old enough to understand the point of the exercise.
I hope the Albany School District allows this teacher to return to the classroom and continue to challenge students. On a larger scale, it would be helpful if politicians and religious pundits would stop referring to Hitler as an atheist.