Censoring the Bible and God

Censoring the Bible and God

In the last post, I wrote about some of the types of things censored in the Hasidic secular curriculum. The pattern is generally that they will censor: the words television, magazine, radio; words like “millions of years ago,” dinosaurs, and other mentions of a world that is older than creationism claims; anything remotely implying romantic love, sensuality, sexuality, fun sexy things.

One other interesting thing that is often censored: religion. The word Christmas, for instance, or church will be censored. But even the Bible and Gods are fair play for the black crayon.

In the essay about Martin Luther King Jr., the following was crossed out:

“On the day before his death, Dr. King had declared, ‘I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you but I want you to know that we as people will get to the promised land.’”

It might sound counterintuitive that a fundamentalist religious community would censor out religion. Right?

But it’s quite in line with the community’s approach to religion as something that exists in the background as necessary and common as air. There are times to speak of these religious things, but you reserve talk of god for pious subjects; one should not mix it with secular things like the civil rights movement. The Hasidic community also sees tradition as manifestation of faith and godliness, so to express faith you express ritual. This makes their idea of religion very distinct from the Christian faith, for instance. And therefore, they don’t relate to the way faith is expressed or what it means to other faith groups.

Hasidim will say “god willing” and “with god’s help” as often as anyone in Brooklyn says “like.” But they don’t have a conversation about believing. There is no concept of theological analysis. So God is more of a given in the backdrop rather than an actively cultivated belief. Shows like Unorthodox will often assume God is a constant, and the main character said at one point, “God expected too much of me.” This sounds as right for a Hasidic girl as the speech by Martin Luther King! It doesn’t fit.

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