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The War on Jesus: Universities Nationwide Snub, Criticize Christ, Survey Finds

Nevermind the War on Christmas – what about the War on Jesus Christ?

Universities across America show an outright disregard and disdain for Jesus Christ, a survey by The College Fix finds.

A look at hundreds of religious studies classes at universities across the nation uncovered that, for the most part, professors prefer to snub the subject of who Jesus was and what he preached. Classes that are focused on Christianity, meanwhile, tip-toe around or altogether avoid the topic of Christ’s teachings.

Jesus Christ is – without question – the most influential figure to ever walk the Earth, but professors clearly prefer to offer electives on much more obscure matters, the survey found.

The survey looked at class titles and descriptions categorized either directly under religious studies, or courses heavy with religious topics but filed under departments such as history, the humanities, political science or philosophy.

Of the 316 classes surveyed, only three focused exclusively on Jesus, compared to:

2 classes on witchcraft and shamanism;

2 classes on yoga and meditation;

3 classes on sex and religion;

3 classes on death and afterlife beliefs;

4 classes on religion and doubt/various conflicts;

5 classes on science and religion;

5 classes on mysticism;

12 classes on women/gender and religion; and

14 classes on religion and culture.

Some of the electives are too difficult to even classify, such as: emergence, from biology to religion; suffering and transformation; anthropology of body and pain; religious dimensions in human experience; sport and spirituality; and a history of apocalyptic thought and movements.

University of Colorado at Denver’s 40-plus religious studies classes include “whores and saints,” “theories of the universe,” “Freudian and Jungian perspectives in dream analysis,” and “spirituality and the modern world.” No electives focused exclusively on Jesus, however.

How about Florida State University at Tallahassee’s 39 religious studies courses? Among them are “performance in Africa,” “human rights and crimes against humanity,” “religion and fantasy” and “abortion and contraception in ancient Christianity.” Nope, no Jesus.

Arizona State University’s 50 religious studies classes run the gamut from “anthropology of material culture” and “ritual, symbol and myth” to “what is religion” and “gender and peace.” Again, no Jesus electives.

In fact, the only religion class at Arizona State focused exclusively on Christianity is called “lost scriptures/lost Christianities,”and zeros in on the “wide diversity of early Christianity and its suppressed and lost texts, which have been found in modern times.” But rest assured, the campus offers four classes on Islam and two on Stalinism.

Over at Illinois State University at Springfield, the “History of Christmas” seminar spends its time “on the origins and development of the celebration of Christmas. Themes include early Christian Nativity traditions, the date of Christmas, devotional literature, liturgical texts, hymnography, art, global perspectives on the celebration, and Christmas traditions.”

This class is likely an opportunity in part for the professor to highlight the holiday’s pagan timing origins and minimize the season’s message of selflessness, reducing Christmas to something of a joke or materialistic boondoggle. (The class is not offered this semester).

While Jesus does headline three classes among the 316 surveyed, some other characters also got their own top billing, such as “the life of Muhammad,” “The Brothers Karamozov” (fictional characters), and “Martin Buber, thought and influence.”

Most of the 12 universities surveyed offered a hodgepodge of classes on a rainbow of religions, including Christianity as well as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.

But just because a class is on Christianity does not mean it will give much, if any, consideration or weight to the person of Jesus Christ or his teachings. He might get a lecture or two, if he’s lucky, but many course descriptions on Christianity classes don’t even include the word “Jesus” at all, the survey found.

Take, for example, intro to church history at Alabama State University, which surveys the church “from its beginning to contemporary times.” Talk about a broad brush.

Similarly, at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, a Christianity class looks at “major developments in the history of Christian thought from its origins in the New Testament through the Protestant Reformation.”

An early Christian church class at the University of Connecticut hones in on “the evolution of Christian institutions, leadership and doctrines in the Roman Empire. … Topics may include gnosticism, prophecy, martyrdom, asceticism, pilgrimage, heresy (and) orthodoxy.”

Intro to the New Testament at Florida State University at Tallahassee looks at the Bible through the lens of “historical development of the early Christian church, ancient Judaism, and the wider Greco-Roman world.”

Boise State University’s early Christianity course studies “the rise and development of Christianity from its Jewish and Greek origins in the first century through its establishment and elaboration as the state religion of the late Roman empire in the fifth century.”

Nary a mention of Jesus, and so on and so forth.

When classes tackle Islam or other religions, it’s an “examination” or “understanding” of said belief systems; when the focus is on Christianity, terms like “critical analysis” can often be found, survey results indicate.

Moreover, the few classes on Jesus found in the survey don’t hone in on his teachings, but rather what other people said of him.

Take Georgia State University at Atlanta’s “Jesus Inside and Outside the Gospels” course. It’s a “comparative study of portrayals of Jesus as they have evolved over the past two millennia … and visual depictions of Jesus in modern media such as film, television and the internet.”

The University of Hawaii’s “Life and Teachings of Jesus” class is a “critical study” of gospels and of extra-Biblical sources.

And the survey’s third and final elective solely devoted to Jesus comes from Butler University in Indiana. Called “Historical Jesus,” it offers a “close look at Jesus of Nazareth, focused on sources and methods of knowledge about Jesus as a historical figure. Attention will also be paid to historical and cultural context, and to beliefs about and depictions of Jesus in early Christian literature.”

The point of all this is not to say students should be forced to study Jesus. But if this survey highlights anything, it’s that they’re not even given the option. Meanwhile the classes that do focus on Jesus or Christianity sidestep his message and teachings in favor of historical context and critical analysis.

Bottom line: Universities across America show an outright disregard and disdain for Jesus Christ.

Click here to view the entire list of colleges and classes compiled for this report.

Click here to Like The College Fix on Facebook.

IMAGE: Flickr/JLWO

NOTES: To produce a random sample of religious studies classes at universities across the nation, The College Fix focused on one mainstream campus from each of the state capitals in alphabetical order, excluding Alaska and Delaware. Twelve colleges were surveyed.

The surveyed focused on undergraduate studies only, and the data was compiled by searches of courses listed on universities’ websites and current class catalogues.

About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. She previously worked as a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for a decade in Southern California, and prior to that held editorial positions at The Weekly Standard, Washington Times and FrontPageMagazine. She is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship recipient and has contributed to National Review.

Add to the Discussion

  • William Burns

    Our only evidence for Jesus’s teachings is “what other people said of him!”

    • RenatiusBarton

      He spoke the Truth. This dumbed-down, godless, narcissistic age will pass, but Truth is eternal.

    • shemafish

      “what other people said of him!”…and this from universities that, hopefully, teach history (Greece, Rome, Chinese…)! Solipsistic philosophy is alive and well in American universities…who would have thought it?

      • David Patton

        Humanistic liberals do not have to adhere to laws of logic and reason.
        Only poor and pathetic Christians are relegated to such barbarism, since we can’t possibly keep up with the hyper intellect of the narcissists.

    • David Patton

      Your comment discredits most written human history. Especially eyewitness accounts.

      You forgot to mention that He rose from the dead and every prophesy He spoke has been fulfilled or will follow in like manner as those that have.

      • William Burns

        You’re massively missing the point here. What I said was that Kabbany’s dichotomy between “classes about Jesus’s teachings” and “classes about what other people said about him” doesn’t make sense, in that our sole source for what his teachings were is what other people said about him. It doesn’t mean we can’t study his teachings, but there’s no book “My teachings by Jesus.”

  • RenatiusBarton

    Godless universities!!! Old news. They are messing with the wrong person.

  • Mikifenn

    Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is not the least bit intimidated by what people on college campuses think.

    • katie

      Neither am I the least bit intimidated by what he thinks.

      • one day,you will bow,and declare whom he really is,and then, the judgement

      • Rocky Mountain

        A real “free thinker”. LOL

    • carole smith

      No, He is not. And He did not come into this world to bring peace.

  • Normalperson

    Only uneducated people cling this desperately to religion – the opiate for the masses. No wonder you people keep attacking education. Can’t you go hop on an ark to somewhere far away?

    • David Patton

      The Bible says the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.
      Since He is perfectly smart and has all power, He made you and you hate Him, we’ll opt to side with God.
      This is safe and wise.

    • you ignore the evidence at your own risk. There is film evidence of the RED SEA crossing, MT. Sinai, and Noah’s ark. Uneducated? how much are you paying for this uneducation ? Or is someone else paying?

  • And you still wonder why this useless stupid blasphemous world will soon end?

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  • Maybe they don’t teach many classes about Jesus’ teachings because they aren’t churches? Just a thought. But then again, I’m just an evil music graduate student.

    • David Patton

      Colleges and universities in America used to offer Theology and had depts. dedicated to the study of God (the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob).
      This was the rock bed foundation of what made America great.

      • Sure, buddy. Education in facts has nothing to do with higher education.

    • Rocky Mountain

      Part of the point is that they go out of their way to teach other things that stand in stark contrast to what Jesus stands for. Anyway, you can criticize contemporary Christianity as individual institutions and the people that very frequently make fools of themselves (in a non-Christian way) but surely you don’t believe that Christ himself was cut out of that cloth?

      • No, but I also don’t see why colleges should be expected to teach what is the church’s domain and be prohibited from teaching contrary ideas.

  • BMFJ

    Are you weirdos suggesting we teach our young people about this anthropomorphic fictional character in institutions of higher learning? Get over yourselves. You imaginary friend is not as popular as he used to be.

    • BMFJ: you, sir, are an ignoramus. No historian worth his salt (and yes, I have a PhD in history and am also a Christian) doubts the historicity of Jesus–not least because at least three non-Christian Roman historians attest to his existence and the general outlines of his life. You’re on much safer historical ground positing that Muhammad was a fictional character–but you can be damn sure no college class is ever taught that advances THAT thesis.

  • James F. Strange

    12 universities out of several thousand is not impressive. I have been teaching at the University of South Florida since 1972 and have no trouble filling up a class called “Jesus’ Life and Teaching” for many of the years that I have been here. The class is not a darling of sceptics or believers, but is an academic study of Jesus and his times, and I believe it to be a good class. If you wish, I will email you a syllabus. I think “War on Jesus” is simply silly.

    James F. Strange, [email protected]

  • Pingback: Report Exposes Colleges’ “Disdain For Jesus” « OBAMA-B-GONEOBAMA-B-GONE()

  • “Jesus Christ.” Let’s start with etymology: “Jesus” – an anglicization of the ancient Greek “Iesous” – an adaptation of the Aramaic/Hebrew “Joshua.” So – this person Joshua “Christ.” “Christ” from the ancient Greek “christos” – “an annointed one” – a translation of the Aaramaic /hebrew “messiah” – charismatic leader – one annointed for the task of G-d’s work; a militatry/political /spiritual leader.” Ergo – the unit “Jesus Christ” so essentially referred to herein is really an individual named joshua who was given the honorific – “the annointed.” Let’s at least start by acknowledging these historical and etymological facts. If you beleive other things about this person, peace be upon you: but do not confuse faith with scholarship – please.

    • Captain Obvious

      No Christian I know of thinks that “Christ” is Jesus’ last name.

  • that response was disingenuous

  • Comparative Religion 101: There is No Comparison to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

    Ref: UNIVERSITY MOTTOS

    VERITAS (Truth – originally Truth for Christ and the Church)
    Harvard University

    IN GOD OUR TRUST
    George Washington University

    UNDER GOD’S POWER SHE FLOURISHES
    Princeton University

    LIGHT AND TRUTH
    Yale University

    LET THERE BE LIGHT
    University of California

    IN GOD WE HOPE
    Brown University

    IN THY LIGHT SHALL WE SEE LIGHT
    Columbia University

    THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE
    Johns Hopkins University