The Hamilton Elementary School has an interesting poster hanging in the halls. It’s a kid’s drawing of Jesus asking people to kill unbelievers:
It’s horrible. My first thought was that it was irresponsible of the school to allow that to be displayed — it’s a terrible message to send to the non-Christian kids in school. But then I read their explanation and my views flipped 180°.
A spokesperson with the Fresno Unified District released a statement, which said: “Students at Hamilton were assigned to create a help wanted poster for soldiers needed to fight in the crusades and write a poem about Joan of arc, the Black Death, or the Magna Carta and create a visual background for it. This was one of several posters displayed.”
Oh. It’s a historical poster intended to illustrate people’s actual attitudes…and yes, that’s a reasonable picture of what the Crusades were all about: killing people who didn’t think as you do, in the name of a deity. It’s good for people to know about reality. It’s also good for people to learn the difference between proscriptivist and descriptivist lessons. The poster is describing a reality, but isn’t (I hope!) endorsing it. If kids were to learn that in history class, it might also help us in biology, where so many people have this bizarre idea that because biologists explain what natural selection has done to every species on the planet, that means we all want to kill and sterilize those that don’t fit some imaginary standard.