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“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Prov 29:2)

“Stories of (Whose) Faith”?

I was asked by a friend to check out the five month long “Stories of Faith” series currently offered by the San Diego public library from 27 August to 20 January.  Since I found the title intriguing, I ended up looking over the various presentations planned, as well as the list of reference material given for further study (  In total, 40 “faith based” presentations are aimed at acquainting the people of San Diego with the culturally diverse beliefs practiced in this county.  These faiths include Baha’i, Buddhist, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Islam, Rastafarianism, Native American Indian, various Protestant and evangelical denominations, Voodoo and even black witch varieties.

What was not apparent from the posted poetry, dance, music, art, drama, genealogy, readings and teaching sessions was the underlying assumptions that appear to guide both the selection and presentation of material.  It’s one thing to educate the public on the diversity of culture and faith that reside in our corner of the country, it’s quite another to under represent the massive, positive influence that foundational, traditional Christian faith has given to us. 

By it’s own description, the purpose of the program is to “explore the role of religion as a pivotal filter through which San Diegans can better understand their history and changes to their communities.”  In doing so, substantial exposure is given to the presence of a relatively small percentage of non-Christian “religious” beliefs.  The obvious impression given is that there is significantly more presence and influence from these minority groups than are realistically present or observed.  In contrast, little treatment appears to be given of an even-handed presentation of Christianity.  Virtually nowhere is a solid presentation given of evangelical Christianity in its full and robust form in San Diego.  To illustrate, in the bibliography, consisting of over 80 entries, the following can be found: “American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon”; “The Ground We Share: Everyday Practice, Buddhist and Christian”; “The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America”; “The New Believers” A Survey of Sects, Cults, and Alternative Religions”; “Uncivil Religion: Interreligious Hostility in America”; “Faith and Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America”; “Fundamentalists and Extremists”.  It’s difficult to find a clear treatment of the positive impact true Christianity has given to this nation and specifically this region.  One is left with what appears to be a bias against mainstream, Christian faith.

Even this would not necessarily be of concern if the program made it clear throughout that non-Christian religious beliefs are being presented in sharp contrast with the prevailing Christian worldview so common throughout our society.  Our nation was founded on strong Biblical truths by Christian men committed to the authority of scripture.  This heritage has guided every major aspect of our society down to this very day.  The fact that this nation is a “Christianized” nation ensures the freedom of non-Christians to practice their beliefs according to the dictates of their own conscience.  But this does not imply there is moral equivalency between beliefs.  Public programs that focus on aberrant forms of Christianity, as well as those hostile to Christianity, in effect teach their equivalent value and merit.  By doing so, these programs miss the opportunity to highlight the distinctives that make true Christian faith so attractive and valuable to us all, as well as the solid rock on which our very freedoms are based.

The final question that comes to mind has to do with the role of the public library in educating people.  Taxes are raised for the common good of all, not to bias common sentiment against values and beliefs that are critical to the continued health and prosperity of our nation.  Christian ministries to the poor, destitute, disadvantaged and those at risk flourish in our county.  Many sincere Christian men and women serve according to their solid Biblical beliefs and values at all levels of public and private work to contribute to the common good of all. There are thousands of solid Christian publications and books that build people up in life changing ways and are based on solid Biblical truths.  Yet if I stroll through the local library, what impression will I walk away with concerning the type of “religious” belief and practice that is dominant in our land?  Is the representation in shear volume consistent with what is known and observed around us, or does it represent an inordinate bias against mainstream Christian belief and practice?  How about the offerings of videos, do they represent and teach foundational values consistent with our Christian heritage?  Also, what of Internet access by children, is it the role of the public library to allow unrestricted access to virtually any material, no matter how bizarre or perverted as some would demand?

There is a place for addressing subject matter that may be of interest to not only a small portion of the population but to the wider audience as well.  But I believe intellectual honesty requires a clear, truthful context for comparison with the faith that has made our society and nation strong from the very beginning and has proven its merit in countless lives.

I may yet be pleasantly surprised by the overall content and presentation of the “Stories of Faith” program.  But, if the information available so far is any measure, I prefer to not see the film “Of Men and God’s” which  “examines the prevalent gay culture that flourishes within the context of Haiti’s Voodoo religion” or discuss Maryse Conde’s book “I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem.” 

- Frank Kacer

First published as a Guest Commentary in the September 2004 issue of Good News Etc.