Teaching Bigotry

A few years ago, to somber fanfare, Washington unveiled the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, a stark, concrete building designed to teach Americans about Nazi bigotry and how it led to the slaughter of six million Jews. Teaching about the evils of bigotry is a noble goal—and that's why I was shocked to discover that the museum itself is engaged in bigotry. It teaches that Christianity is responsible for virtually every evil perpetrated against the Jewish people—including the Holocaust. Visit the museum and you'll be shown a film called Anti-Semitism, which denounces some of the church's most shameful episodes throughout history. These include the centuries-old practice of forcing Jews to live in separate quarters known as "ghettos," and the false accusation that Jews used the blood of Christian children in rituals. Mind you, much of this criticism is warranted. But the film's treatment of Adolph Hitler and Martin Luther make it clear that the filmmakers had more than history on their minds. The film emphasizes the fact that Hitler was baptized a Catholic—as, of course, virtually all Austrian babies were at the time. Then viewers are shown a film clip in which Hitler says regarding his treatment of the Jews: "I am acting for the Lord. The only difference between me and the church is that I am finishing the job." And there's a strong suggestion that Martin Luther's teachings caused Auschwitz. This is outrageous nonsense. Hitler did co-opt biblical language—just as Satan does—but he was no Christian. His policies were fiercely resisted by the confessing church in Germany. To blame the Holocaust on Christianity is an historical travesty and a terrible smear upon Christians. In recent weeks several prominent Jewish-Americans—including Michael Horowitz, Elliott Abrams, and Michael Medved—have courageously spoken out against the film. Horowitz recently wrote to me, "The film’s depiction of Christianity as the prime, near-singular cause of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust itself [is] profoundly inaccurate." In Horowitz's opinion, the film's bias reflects a secular worldview that characterizes religion, especially Christianity, as the source of intolerance and prejudice. For some secular elites, you see, it is not enough that Christians have apologized and continue to apologize for wrongs committed against the Jewish people. As Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School writes in the journal First Things, there are "persons for whom no apology will ever be enough until [Christians] apologize for their very existence." Glendon means that secular elites believe that Christianity is defined by intolerance. To them, if Christianity did not exist, intolerance would not exist. This view attacks the very root of Christianity, and it is bigotry at its worst. If your kids are being taught about the Holocaust—as they should be—make sure the goal is moral education, not an apology for being a Christian. Christians should be ready to acknowledge that the Church has often failed her Lord on numerous occasions; this simply proves our need for constant grace and sanctification. But these failings do not justify what millions are seeing in the Holocaust museum—a bigoted attack on Christianity itself.  


Chuck Colson


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