The unknown can be frightening. And that may explain why so many secularists are afraid of religion.
The first week of April saw a social-media-driven panic sweep across the campus of Indiana University. Starting around 9:15pm, students started tweeting about a sinister character prowling about campus seeking whom he might devour.
One student tweeted, “[IU] students be careful, there’s someone walking around in [KKK] gear with a whip.” Another complained about the school’s failure to “make students feel safe.”
A residence hall advisor then fired off an email saying, “There has been a person reported walking around campus in a KKK outfit holding a whip . . . I would recommend staying indoors if you’re alone.”
When an intrepid IU student confronted the threat at a local frozen yogurt shop—that’s your first clue—he did not find a Klansman, complete with hood and whip. Instead, he found a Dominican friar, Father Jude McPeak, whose “hood” turned out to be his habit and whose “whip” was his rosary.
And far from looking for someone to assault, Father McPeak was on his way back from a meeting with students. It wasn’t the only time he had been on campus: He often walks around IU praying for students.
For his part, Father McPeak chuckled and said it wasn’t the first time his appearance had ruffled some feathers.
True, but it’s almost certainly the first time that people responded to his habit by asking him whether he hated black people.
Events in Bloomington reminded my colleague John Stonestreet of another example of ignorance about Christian faith and practice closer to his home. After the 2007 shootings at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, a reporter asked a member of the church who witnessed the shootings whether they took place during or after “Mass.”
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