How to approach this professor?


Hey everyone. I’m in an anthropology class studying “Comparative Religions” and so far there have been a few issues with the class.

Well, a week or two ago we were discussing symbols, and The Virgin of Guadalupe came up. Then a few minutes into the discussion the professor said “well you know, Mary is only mentioned two or three times in the Bible” and thought “where is she going with this?” She then said “But she’s not supposed to worshiped. Worship is only reserved for God and Jesus Christ, this is supposed to be a patriarchal religion.”

Then the issue of the pope came up and some student said “The Pope is a liberal who supports homosexuals!”

I decided to leave alone for one week. The next week, were discussing symbols again and talking about the symbol of the American family. She then showed a slide that said “some Americans form their idea of the American family off of religion, in Christianity we have the Father (God), the son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit (The Virgin Mary - The Mother)” A student then raised his hand and said “do Christians really believe the Holy Spirit is Mary?” and she said “well, yea”

So yeah, that’s my situation. lol :frowning: Can anyone give my ideas on how to approach this professor in a passive way and in not-attacking-her type of fashion?

Some people gave me some input but I want to know what you guys think.

Thanks :thumbsup:


I’d just leave it alone for now. If the issue does come up again in class, if I were you I’d just put my hand up and say something along the lines of:

“That is incorrect” - and then state your reasons which I’m sure you know.

After all, it is factually incorrect to teach that Christians believe the Holy spirit is Mary. Facts are facts.

Just let her know politely, that is all.



I would bring the issues up with her outside of class. I don’t think that it would seem like you are “attacking” her or anything. What the Church teaches on these matters isn’t exactly vague, and she is misrepresenting your religious views.

You could say something like, “You said that the Holy Spirit is thought of as the Virgin Mary. What do you mean by that?”


Yea my therapist, said I should just speak as if I’m asking to clarify what she meant.


Yeah, I definitely agree with this approach. It might work well if you decide to make an office hours appointment to discuss a paper/homework/lecture, and then if you are having a nice conversation, you could casually bring it up.

Ex. “Oh, the way you explained this lecture/homework/paper was so helpful, thanks so much! By the way, I was also a bit confused on this point…”


That is definately unprofessional! There is so much indoctrination and in this case the blind leading the blind. I would first of all pray about it, that God lay upon your heart and give you the words to say when or if the time comes for a fruitful clarification. Some of those students are not going to question her remarks unless someone provides some kind of loving response from someone informed about the Faith.

If the same thing happens again, I would simply say that I have studied Christianity, and I consider myself a fairly informed Catholic, and that what was just said is not accurate. And if the professor wants to challenge that, then I would make sure that I be clear and straight with my explanation. That may also encourage anybody else in there who may agree with you to speak up as well, because sometimes people won’t speak up all by themselves. If you are challenged by your response, then offer to bring a Catechism in to prove what the Church teaches. If you are rejected, then at least others in the class will not leave thinking that what the professor said went undisputed. But stay calm and kind, never get ugly, let the other side do that. The “in your face” approach usually turns people off and usually just gets others to reject you whether you are right or wrong.


Wow. I never had a professor quite that bad. I had one that said Jesus borrowed his theology from Buddhists from India, but never “Mary is the Holy Spirit”. My professor’s claim at least had the appearance of intelligence… sort of.

It’s so annoying that they’re being paid a high salary to make people dumber.


Or maybe you should do your homework and formally present your response with well documented references in a report. If she cannot refute it, then after, maybe you can ask to show the rest of the class, since they were subjected to her misinformation…?



This reminds me, I forgot to bring up she also brought up that she believes the virgin of Guadalupe is based off the Aztec goddess “Tonantzin” and is an example of “syncretism” (blending religions, in this case, Catholicism with Aztec culture)


Well, that’s true enough! We venerate Mary and the saints, but we worship only God… :wink:

I decided to leave alone for one week. The next week, were discussing symbols again and talking about the symbol of the American family. She then showed a slide that said “some Americans form their idea of the American family off of religion, in Christianity we have the Father (God), the son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit (The Virgin Mary - The Mother)” A student then raised his hand and said “do Christians really believe the Holy Spirit is Mary?” and she said “well, yea”

I would send her an email:

*"Dr Smith:

I was reviewing my notes from the other week, and I wrote in my notes on the topic of ‘the symbol of the American family’ that you said that the Christian notion of family is formed on Father (God), Son, (Jesus), and Mother (Holy Spirit and/or Mary). That looked a little weird to me as I re-read it. Did I maybe mis-copy what you’d taught? I’ve done a little research, and I can’t find any Christian Church that teaches that the Holy Spirit is the spouse of God – a ‘mother’ figure to God’s ‘father’ figure – or any Christian Church that asserts that Mary is the Holy Spirit.

Assuming that I copied it down correctly, do you have any citations that support this assertion? Thanks!"*


Mary is a creature, a creation of God, and thus is not God. She was born of human parents the natural way, just like you and me.


Actually, I have heard this before. There are some Catholics who are so overly zealous in their devotion to Mary that have arrived at the same conclusion, that Mary is the Holy Spirit.

I wouldn’t fault the teacher since it sounds like she isn’t Catholic and has a cursory knowledge of the intricacies of Catholicism. There are certainly many Catholics who have far worse views and beliefs about the Church and what She teaches. If it is important enough, you can visit your teacher and simply explain to her what the traditional Church has taught about Mary and her role in the plan of salvation. I doubt she would take offense.


Absolutely NOT. If she is teaching on something, she needs to be informed of its facts, and not of the ‘rumors’ that are perpetuated about it. I can understand the common misconception that we worship Mary, which we should always correct. If she is presenting all of these things as FACT, not only does she need to be corrected (in the proper manner), her curriculum needs to be reviewed. Any facts can be twisted and presented in a manner that will get the result that the leader is looking for if people aren’t faithful to the actual truth, and stand up for truth.

For the record, I’m 44 years old and I’ve never once heard of, or read, of any Catholic considering Mary as the Holy Spirit. Didn’t Jesus say the Comforter would yet come? Yet, Mary was already there, so that is not possible, in just one example.

Facts should be presented properly, and then the students/people can make up their minds. Of course, this is 21st Century Earth, so we are used to information being presented to us in a biased manner, and even when we know differently, we shrug it off. That is irresponsible. It’s a very good thing that I don’t belong to the Catholic Church of the Media; I belong to Christ’s Church, Catholicism.


I like this advice, Gorgias. It demands further clarification from a humble student-to-teacher approach rather than a presumptive “You’re wrong!” standpoint. When the professor re-checks her “facts”, and finds no supportive evidence for the belief that Catholics consider Mary to be one and the same as the Holy Spirit, she will be forced to conclude that her teachings were spoken in error.

Followingtheway, do you have a Catechism? If so, you can offer to lend it to your professor and explain that everything she needs to understand about Church dogma is explained within it. Or, send her a link to the online Catechism in your e-mail and refer her specifically to the passages that discuss Marian devotion so that she has little excuse to avoid correcting herself by saying she doesn’t have time to read through the entire compilation.

In addition, you might also want to politely request that she reiterate the correct teaching to the entire class, as she has (perhaps unintentionally) misled her students into false assumptions regarding authentic teaching. I understand that it’s uncomfortable sometimes to challenge an authority figure, however think about all of your fellow students who are leaving her class with misconceptions about Catholicism.

*Minor *errors or misinterpretations could perhaps afford to go unchallenged with little harm being done; but your professor made a whopper of a mistake here, and should rectify it - if only for the sake of academic integrity.


Here’s my thoughts as an instructor:

Use “I” statements as much as possible, and approach it as a conflict between what she’s teaching and what you’ve learned. Act like there may be some segment of Christianity out there that believes what she says - I doubt that’s the case, but it will keep it from sounding like you think she’s making things up.

I’d say something like “I did religious education when I was younger/I’ve read the CCC/whatever you’ve actually done. We were always taught that the Holy Spirit was a Divine Person, while the Virgin Mary was a mere human. Could you show me where it is that said Christians think they are the same? I’m afraid I’m not familiar with that portion of Christianity.”


Lolwut? :eek:


To her credit, she’s half-right. The Aztecs did call Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin (‘our mother’, a title reserved for goddesses like Cihuacoatl), Tepeyac hill - where Mary is supposed to have appeared to Juan Diego - was originally a site used for pre-Columbian worship of a ‘Tonantzin’, and originally there were fears among contemporary Spanish friars that the Aztecs were engaging in syncretistic worship due to the above elements.


Among the many “dirty little secrets” in higher ed is that a lot of profs are simply incompetent. There are many reasons for this including the politicalization of many disciplines, the lowering of standards in graduate programs (my alma mater now requires only 75% of the course work required in the 1970s), pressure to enroll weaker students to keep enrollment numbers up, the imposition of theory over reality in many disciplines and I could go on and on.

I would respond to this prof with an office visit and civil questioning. Mention that you are experiencing “cognitive dissonance” between her class remarks and what you have learned from other sources. Be polite and non-threatening. If you are lucky you will get a correction. Accept it graciously. Insecure profs can be vindictive. Consider taking this matter up with the dept. head and perhaps a dean at the end of the semester. Good luck.


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