Texas school board fights Islamic bias with Christian bias

By David Waters The Texas state board of education, which last May scrubbed “anti-Christian bias” from history textbooks that have … Continued

The statistics are in. The millennials are leaving the church, and nobody seems quite sure what to do about it.

I am one of them. Born in 1983, I belong to the wispy beginnings of the new generation. I turned 30 this year, and I’m raising two small boys. I hold within me both cynicism and hope. I left the church. I came back.

Here is what I can tell you about millennials: We grew up on easy answers, catchphrases and cliché, and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that things are almost always more complicated than that.

When I returned to church, it wasn’t because of great programs, alluring events or a really cool “café” set up in the foyer. I went back not because of what the church was doing, but rather in spite of it. I went back because I needed community, and because, thanks to a steady dose of medication and therapy, I was finally well enough to root through the cliché to find it.

But not all of us are there yet. For some of us, the clichés are still maddening and alienating. Recently, I asked my followers online for the five church clichés that they tend to hate the most. These were the top five responses:

“The Bible clearly says…”

We are the first generation to grow up in the age of information technology, and we have at our fingertips hundreds of commentaries, sermons, ideas, and books. We can engage with Biblical scholars on Facebook and Twitter, and it’s impossible not to see the way that their doctrines – rooted in the same Bible – differ and clash.

We’re acutely aware of the Bible’s intricacies. We know the Bible is clear about some things– but also that much is not clear. We know the words are weighted to a culture that we don’t completely understand and that the scholars will never all agree.

We want to hear our pastors approach these words with humility and reverence. Saying, “This is where study and prayer have led me, but I could be wrong,” does infinitely more to secure our trust than The Bible clearly says…

“God will never give you more than you can handle”

This paraphrased Mother Teresa quote has become so commonplace in Christian culture that I was shocked to learn that it wasn’t in the Bible.

Inherent in this phrase is the undertone that if life has become “more than you can handle,” then your faith must not be strong enough. We millennials may be a bit narcissistic, but we also know the weight of too much. We understand that we need help. Connections. Friendship. Sometimes therapy.

We know that life so often feels like entirely too much to handle. And we want to know that this is okay with you and with God.

“Love on” (e.g. “As youth group leaders, we’re just here to love on those kids.”

In addition to sounding just plain creepy, this phrase also has troubling implications. We may understand that we need help, but we certainly don’t want to be anyone’s project or ministry.

It may just be semantics, but being loved on feels very different than being simply loved. The former connotes a sudden flash of contrived kindness; the latter is simpler…but deeper. It suggests that the relationship is the point, not the act of love itself.

And really, that’s what we’re looking for: relationship –that honest back and forth of giving and receiving love.

Black and white quantifiers of faith, such as “Believer, Unbeliever, Backsliding”

Millennials are sick of rhetoric that centers around who’s in and who’s out. We know our own doubtful hearts enough to know that belief and unbelief so often coexist. Those of us who follow the Christian faith know that world around us feels truer than the invisible God who holds it together.

Terms like backsliding that try to pinpoint the success (or, more accurately, lack thereof) of our faith, frustrate us. We don’t want to hustle to prove our faith; we don’t want to pretend. We want to be accepted, not analyzed.

“God is in control . . . has a plan . . . works in mysterious ways”

Chances are we believe this is true. But it’s the last thing we want to hear when something goes horribly wrong in our life. We are drawn to the Jesus who sits down with the down-and-out woman at the well. Who touches the leper, the sick, the hurting. Who cries when Lazarus is found dead…even though he is in control and has a plan to bring Lazarus back to life.

You’ve heard us say that we like Jesus but not the church, and it’s not because we’re trying to be difficult. It’s because the Jesus we read about enters into the pain of humanity where so often the church people seem to want to float above it.

In the end, it’s not really about what churches say or don’t say. What millennials want is to be seen. Understood. Loved. It’s what everyone wants, really. And for this generation of journeyers? Choosing honesty over cliché is a really great place to start.

Check out our related article: “5 really bad reasons to leave your church.”

If you liked what Addie had to say in this piece, consider purchasing her recently released book, “When We Were on Fire: a Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love and Starting Over.”

Addie Zierman
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  • cmdel07

    Thank you Texas Board of Education, there is a real political agenda against the values that are the foundation of our nation and our states and against our children and their generation. I applaud you for your stand against this political agenda that is like poison in our society, but it has to be ingested before there is any harm and you have keep many from harm. Thanks!

  • joe_allen_doty

    The Constitution of the United States of America has no connection with the Bible. In fact, in the body of it there is a paragraph that states in words to this effect, “There shall be no test of religion for any federal office, appointed or elected.”

  • johnnormansp

    What?? Christians using deceptive arguments, stretching the truth and resorting to outright lies??? It’s entirely unheard of.

  • edbyronadams

    In the UK the cause of the Thirty Years War must have been purely territorial.

  • mbeck1

    thebobbob wrote “Pastafarians are totally ignored and they’ve made up a religion that tastes better than all the rest!”First of all, there is no made up about it. The Flying Spaghetti Monster “handed” down the fundamental food group with her noodley appendages. Low-Carb-free dieters will pay the ultimate price.Second, I must ask what pastafarian sect thebobbob belongs to? I’m a Carbonarian myself?

  • abrahamhab1

    Waters gives an example of “Texas” bigotry below:If you think this is bigotry then you should read some of the history books taught in Muslim dominated societies. Their books describe the Christians and Jews as najis (unclean and defiled) like a pig or a dog that should be avoided and humiliated. Furthermore they teach that those infidels living among them need to be impoverished by overtaxing them and discriminating against them in education, jobs and places of residence. The manual they use is the so-called Omar Pact, inspired by their prophet and penned by his successor Omar.It is cited below.

  • Secular

    Palinistas have taken over the texas school board. The dimwits are trying to pollute the all education here. Afriend of mine whose son still goes to public schools here once went to the class room to volunteer his time to give lecture on science and prepared a PPTX and delivered a synopsis of cosmology and told the kids that there is no room for god in scientific explanation. That left thr teacher’s mouth agape.Thank GOD my kids already graduated from the high schools.

  • LastBastionOfBalance

    It shouldn’t be about what members on a school board “think”… it should be the TRUTH. The truth of the matter is…Most people think that the Koran is a religious text. Instead, 64% of the text (by word count) is about non-Muslims, who are called Kafirs. The Koran is fixated on Kafirs and makes many demands on them. Not the least is that Kafirs submit to the rule of Islamic Sharia law. Ultimately Sharia law is the pure expression of Islamic politics and it completely contradicts our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Under Sharia there is no freedom of speech, wives may be beaten and apostates murdered.Mohammed had little success with Islam until he transformed it into a political system. He preached the religion of Islam in Mecca for 13 years and made about 150 converts. He left Mecca and moved to Medina. In Medina he turned to politics and jihad. In the last 9 years of his life, Mohammed was involved in an event of violence on the average of every 6 weeks. The political method persuaded every Arab to convert to Islam. The religion did not succeed; it was politics that made Islam powerful.While Christianity has had it’s violent turbulent past, Islam has not outgrown it’s violent and barbaric beginnings.So by definition, contrasting Christianity and Muslims is RIDICULOUS. We are a country based on Christian values and beliefs. Moses sits atop our Supreme Court and the 10 commandments adorn the doors of the building. It’s time to STOP appeasing *ANY* Muslims on our country for the simple FACT that Islam and the Constitution of the United States of America CANNOT co-exist. Wake up people and smell the jihad.

  • thebobbob

    How about getting rid of pro-religion distortions? And, while we’re at it: Pastafarians are totally ignored and they’ve made up a religion that tastes better than all the rest!

  • shimmeringfalls

    Unfortunately Islam is not a religion that can be treated like any of the various Christian religions. There is a powerful and numerous group of Islamic Jihadists that, by fair means or foul (mostly foul) will try to force their sharia onto the rest of us. The Founding Fathers could not have anticipated the battle now going on. Christianity is a religion of freedom while Islam is a religion of tyranny. One thing the Founding Fathers did teach us was to fight tyranny, I’m sure they would be right behind the fight against Islam.

  • GiordanoBruno

    Let us invite everyone else in the world to return the Texans’ favor: all history books in the rest of the US and the world should also be rewritten so as to give sufficient credit to the role of Texas in dragging the country and the world back into the Dark Ages. Really, we have not acknowledged the Texans’ importance enough! They are truly outstanding pioneers in bigotry, authoritarianism, hatred of science and the liberal arts. Surely their “national” pride can only be tickled by such due recognition. Let history judge…!

  • yasseryousufi

    Shimmeringfalls, what about the Christian Sharia? Isn’t the American Constitution based upon bible? Aren’t their violent chapters in the bible? Haven’t Christians been guilty of conducting religously motivated violence? Were you also educated in one of these Christian Madrassahs of Texas?

  • TriCorneredHead

    The Texas school board has sent a bold, clear, uncompromising message to everyone who might have the audacity to send their children to school and expect an objective textbook:”Our violent, oppressive, primitive Bronze Age set of superstitions is better than THEIR violent, oppressive, primitive set of superstitions from the Middle Ages. And let NO ONE suggest otherwise!”

  • billsmithaustin

    Texans used to be able to make fun of Kansans for the antics of Kansas school boards. Sadly, those days are over.Bill Smith

  • FarnazMansouri2

    mbeck1:thebobbob wrote “Pastafarians are totally ignored and they’ve made up a religion that tastes better than all the rest!”First of all, there is no made up about it. The Flying Spaghetti Monster “handed” down the fundamental food group with her noodley appendages. Yet, if I’m correct, there is no recognition either in Texas or anywhere else of the FSM. It seems to me that we cannot continue to delay the awakening of humanity to the great gluten truth of things. Without a Pastafarian Congressional lobby, we who have seen Its noodly appendages will go on alone to the AfterSauce.

  • eezmamata

    Don’t pick on the Texas school board for being a bunch of ignorant bible pounders.They’re writing Thomas Jefferson out of their history books. Why? They must have actually read the endless things he had to say regarding their silly religion, and religion in general.They’re not ignorant of the real Thomas Jefferson.They are a bunch of idiotic religious fanatics, just not ignorant of what they believe are their real interests — the establishment of an unquestioned southern christian white theocracy.

  • Kingofkings1

    Just when you think you’ve heard or seen everything.

  • rush_n_crush

    “Christianity is a religion of freedom….”Oh really?!Tell that to all of the Native North/South Americans, Australian Aborigines, Asian colonies, African slaves, African colonies, etc., all who died, were raped, imprisoned, enslaved, etc., all in the name of the Christian god.

  • areyousaying

    Unfortunately the Texas form of Christianity is not a religion that can be treated like any of the various other Christian religions. There is a powerful and numerous group of Glenn Beck Christians that, by fair means or foul (mostly foul) will try to force their “Christian” sharia onto the rest of us.

  • Kingofkings1

    I know some teenagers will be happy when Texas get rid of Algebra, Algorithms, and chemistry (all Arabic words). Getting rid of the zero will prove more difficult.

  • waris1

    In simple words all KKK members came from south, but NOT all people from south were KKK members. Much of arrogance, hypocrisy, ignorance and intolerance is not necessarily belongs a geographical location but it does base on some past practices and history.

  • NorthDallasForty

    After living in Texas for just over 25 years, I hope to be leaving soon. Never have I been to such a place with so much arrogance, hypocrisy and ignorance. And, that includes Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

  • GregCleveland

    LastBastionOfBeingWrong, the Ten Commandments, along with the rest of the Old Testament, are accepted by Muslims, as well as Jews and Christians. Moses is joined by many others in the sculptures of the Supreme Court, including Hammurabi, Solomon, Solon, Draco, Confucius, Charlemagne, and Mohammad.

  • ConcernedDutchman89

    We should rather teach people what actually happened in history and let them learn from it by forming their own opinion. Education should be free of indoctrination.It is not necessary to elevate one religion above another. If EVERYBODY would live up to that the world would be a better place I believe. Of course, the people who want to enforce their religion on others should be stopped, and that includes the religious extremists of ALL religions (and NOT only those of the islamic faith).