Being forced to read anti-Christian material in school


(I hope this is the right forum…)

I’m soo conflicted about something and I’d appreciate any advice…

I’m taking an English course in university; just a general first year English course on novels… and some of the reading material really criticizes Christianity, so the class discussion today basically consisted of ‘how bad Christianity is’. It makes me really angry and I feel like I’m sinning and don’t know how to be charitable in these situations. I have to sit through two hours of this (AND take notes). By the end, it caused me so much stress that I actually felt sick.

In addition - and this is even worse - one of the REQUIRED books for the course is absolutely horrible cause parts of it might as well be pornography. The language can’t get more explicit. I read a bit of the book and it shocked and disgusted me - and afterwards I felt that I had offended God even by reading such material. My mistake was not throwing the book away right from the start. It’s absolutely VILE, I can’t even describe it. I can’t imagine writing an essay about it or answering an exam question.

I thought of just dropping the course, but it’s already past the drop/add deadline, so if I cancel it, the cancellation would appear on my transcript…and the money might be lost - I need to ask about this and will do so tomorrow. (there would however be no academic penalty).

what should I do? I feel like it’s a sin to read such descriptions (filling your mind with garbage and inviting occasion of temptation…) but I can’t avoid it cause it’s required. Should I just get a chapter by chapter summary of this “novel”. lol. I CAN’T read it in good conscience, as a Catholic.

i’m so upset it’s on the reading list and I hope it wouldn’t lead anyone into sin :frowning:

I can’t even say anything cause everyone at my university probably thinks that if you’re “over 18” it’s oki to read stuff like that… that’s so wrong! it is not! grr…

just wanted to express my frustration

am I putting God second by being hesitant about cancelling the course? (for the reasons I described)

I thought about how God sees this book, and how He saw me reading it, and it made me so so sad :frowning:


I remember when I was an undedrgrad and I had to read many books and articles that were anti Christian and anti anything that was religion, to be honest. But here is what I tell our novices today, as they go off to school

  1. It is important to know what the world is saying about the faith. Unless you live in a cloister, you will have to deal with this on a daily basis, so you may as well become familiar with the arguments out there.

  2. Don’t ever be afraid of expressing the other side of the issue. As long as your thoughts are well organized, not full of emotionalism or pious euphimisms, some of your classmates wil hear you. Other won’t. But you can’t control what others choose to hear or not hear.

  3. There is nothing wrong with expressing why you believe that a piece of literature is anti-Christian, anti-semitic, anti-muslim or discriminates against any other group. Outside the bible, there are no perfect pieces of literature.

  4. Offensive language is everywhere. Try to be an adult about it and remember, that’s the way the world speaks, even if you do not. You do not have to speak that way. But you’re not seeing anything in print that you are not going to hear on the subway or at a party. The best response is always to restate things in a manner that is clear and innofensive. You send a message to others that human communication does not need to be vulgar to be clear.

  5. You attend university to get an education. You do not attend to convert to every idea or movement that is thrown at you. Part of being an educated person is knowledge. But knowledge is not what leads us. Faith is what leads us. So lead others by the example of your faith. The best example of faith that you can offer in a classroom is to be a pro-active Christian. Defend what is true. Denounce what is in error and be open to what others think. Being open does not mean that you are yielding or subscribing. It means that you want to understand the world in which you are called to minister. You cannot minister in a world that you know nothing about.

  6. Finally, I remind our novices of something that St. Teresa of Avila once said, “I prefer one intelligent man to 10 saints. Saints can be very naive. But intelligent men can become saints and not lose their wisdom.” Just look at St. Augustine. I can’t thinki of a person who had a better knowledge of the sinful world than Augustine. He used this knowledge to guide generations of men and women to Christ, becaues he knew how they thought, spoke and lived. In other words, he understood their non-values and he could address those issues without being called a simpleton.

Don’t give up the course. Finish it, but be another Augustine or another Teresa of Avila, always interested in learning so that you know what you have to change.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


I see what you are saying, thanks for your reply… I’m just afraid that reading that particular book is an occasion of sin for me. It’s not just offensive or anti Christian… it’s actually extremely sexually explicit, to the point of being pornographic, and I cant stand it. Purity is a very important virtue to me and a part of me ‘dies’ (to use that expression) in a way whenever I come across stuff like that. I can’t imagine the Saints reading a book like this. (even though I can imagine them reading antiChristian material just to make arguments against it…but not this type of thing)

Also I’ve noticed in myself some symptoms of OCD, and sometimes when I hear or read something that shocks or upsets me, later on it starts repeating over and over in my head… I’m afraid it will happen with this too. And I also have a very visual imagination, I always imagine the things I read - which is often a good thing but in this case it is not.

So I kind of see both perspectives… I see what you are saying, and if it wasn’t for this book, I wouldn’t have a problem staying in the course for the reasons you described… but in this situation, I’m not sure what to do. I also don’t know what to write my essays about cause I can’t write anything against my faith, thats for sure…

I’ve been around anti-Christian stuff for many years and I know their arguments pretty well, I used to hold some of them…

I’m also not sure what I could say in class, because the prof asks questions like “what is the author trying to say here about this or that topic…” and the topic is something relating to Christianity… and the author seems to be VERY opinionated and expresses contempt for our faith :frowning:


JReducation has given some excellent advice.

Try to express your opinion when you can without sounding angry or hurt. Try not to take things personally. Many people are very ignorant about Christianity and say things that are extremely offensive to us without realising it. Also, many people are extremely concerned about being politically correct. It doesn’t hurt to gently point out that Christianity deserves the same treatment as other religious groups if people start saying offensive things in seminars.

I don’t know about the book. (Is it Henry Miller by any chance?) Do you have to write an essay about it? I’m sure there are ways to avoid writing about it.


Have you ever considered going to a better school? Giving people who do this money isn’t something one would prefer to do.

J.R. that quote sounds bunk, so I’d like to see the source. :slight_smile:


Check your college’s code of ethics. I guarantee you there will be a clause prohibiting derogatory statements about race, gender and sexual orientation. If you’re lucky they will also include religion. Usually though, it’s open season on faith based beliefs.

Here’s another thought.

good luck.


What novel are you being required to read?


Frankly if it were me, I’d refuse point blank to read it and I’d tell the professor my reasons. If it’s really that bad. (I, to, would like to know what it is.) If he’s the sort of hard ***** that would fail you for refusing to read it, I’d go to the dean and see what I could have worked out for me.


If the book is really so obscene that it can be pornographic, then I would write a letter to the professor and a copy to the department chair asking for an interview. I would explain why I can’t read this book. You don’t have to give your personal moral story or tell how it impacts on your imagination and sexual lfie. You can simply state that you cannot read the book because of conscience and that you are asking for another assignment. Make sure that you explain in your letter that you are willing to do another assignment in place of this book, so they don’t think that you’re trying to impose your position on their curriculum. This usually is taken with a better attitude. But do get a meeting with the people who can make this decision. And explain that you can’t remove yourself from the course and why. Not only is the time passed, but you paid for the course and you will lose your money.

Let me know how else I can help. I was a college dean. I know a few tricks around these issues.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


Shin, you’ll have to read St. Theresa’s autobiography yourself, because I can’t remember what page or chapter she said it in.

However, you will stop speaking to me in that manner. First, I deserve respect because I’m a person. You don’t just tell a person that something they’re saying is “bunk.”

Second, I’m a religioius. If you’re so Catholic, you should also be equally respectful toward religious and clergy. I’m humble in admitting my faults and weaknesses, but I’m not a doormat. You have no right to speak to me as one. You take advantage of it every time you and I meet on a thread. You it’s time for you to stop it. I’m not the only person reading your post and others can see that you are being unnecessarily rude.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


If the book is pornographic, wouldn’t that be sexual harassment to be forced to read it?

redhen’s advice is on target too. Bigotry should not be allowed on campus.


So…did the problem here just go away? What book are we talking about, 4EverHis? Is the problem resolved now, or what?


Hi friend! I’m a college student too, and I’ve been in a similar situation.
Last semester, in French class, we were going to watch a movie (in the French language) that was rated R for and ual content. I explained to my professor that it was against my morals and conscience to watch it, and asked if there was any way to watch something else. My prof was receptive and allowed me to watch a different French movie. (I ended up watching one about a Catholic priest:thumbsup:)
Most colleges that would ask you to read something that’s really out there are public colleges, and I’ve found that public colleges have a lot of “tolerance and diversity” clauses in their policies that we can use to get out of situations like this.

And about the class discussion…I’ve also had a lot of these experiences. Say a quick prayer to the Holy Spirit or Our Lady before you speak up…I’m sure they’ll help you know what to say and how to say it :wink:

God bless you for your desire to live for Him even when it’s hard!!!


This is a smart comment and it makes sense. You should check into this and see it through.

Be willing to defend your faith; you may end up teaching the teacher! I once took a seminar in which an extremely vile thing was said, very anti-religious, and I was so shocked that I was stunned for two days afterward. I very much wish I had protested to the teacher and departmental chair. Just extremely offensive. Deeply so.


Thank you for the advice everyone :slight_smile:

Here is an update… I ended up dropping the course and taking Music History instead. I was REALLY unsure if this is what I should do, or if I should stay… and I prayed a lot about it… and then it seems God made a way.

Initially I wanted to drop the course and register for Music History, but that course was full. So I decided to stay in the English course and work something out. But the next day, I checked again, and the course became available again; someone dropped it! :slight_smile: I was very suprised cause Music History is a second term course and I don’t see why anyone would drop it now, in September, but they did.

So I dropped English and it turns out that I’m getting most of the money back, and it will appear as “cancelled” on my transcript but they told me that’s not a big deal as long as I don’ t have several “cancelled” courses… one or two are alright.

I feel relieved now…

sadly today in my other English course, they made us watch a movie that had a pretty explicit scene involving homosexuality


but I can’t do anything about that…I actually couldn’t take it anymore and walked out half way…lol! Glad I sat at the back of the class so that wasn’t an issue!

But I don’t have to write an essay about the film and I don’t think it will appear on the test so it doesn’t matter. :shrug:


**At 49, I tried to earn a master’s in History (second master’s degree). The professor I had for two courses was so hatefully liberal and boastfully atheist, I couldn’t take it and dropped out of the program. We quarrelled everyday in class, and on one occasion, he sought revenge in the grading of one of my papers. Hang in there. You probably won’t get an A if you don’t agree with the prof, which of course you can’t. Sounds like a class to be survived, more than anything. **


What was the book/movie list for the course? You’ve been rather vague. Although it’s too late, I would have recommended staying in. I had a 2 semester class that was like that, turns out the prof that was teaching very anti-Christian messages (from what could have been considered anti-Catholic pieces of classic lit) was a Christian trying to get us to examine our own morals and make sure they had a sound base. Aren’t you going to have to take the class at some point to get a degree?


Was it any worse than the story about the guy who pushed his prostitute outside where she was gang-raped to death by a vicious mob, then chopped her body into twelve pieces and told everyone how he was really the victim here?

(Read it here if you have the stomach for it.)


I agree with NoMoreGames. I’d still like to know what book we are talking about. If it was that awful to cause this much of a problem, I’d like to have some specifics as to what it was… Sometimes people do post bogus things on this site, you know. I’m not saying that’s what happened here, but it does seem strange that we don’t really have any facts to judge for ourselves. So, please, what book and movie were so offensive? You asked for advice, but we really weren’t given enough info to know if your school is really being anti-Christian or you are overly sensitive.


the reason I didn’t mention the name of the book or movie is because I wouldn’t want someone here to go look it up and then potentially fall into sin…
but if you want to know ,the book was (a particular chapter in) Alice Munroe’s “Lives of Girls and Women”, and the movie was called “Wilde”, about Oscar Wilde. But I wouldn’t encourage watching/reading it… best to stay away.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit