When I was a young man in the 1970s, I received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, majoring in Judaic (Jewish) Studies.
My teacher and mentor, Rabbi Joseph Schultz, taught me about the history and culture of the Jewish people.
I went on to become a United Methodist minister and used the knowledge that I learned to promote understanding between people of different faiths, especially Jewish-Christian relationships.
Rabbi Schultz and other teachers in that program also taught me about the dark side of humanity, that people are capable of the most heinous atrocities in the name of “law and order” and nationalism.
I learned how prejudice, fear and hatred of the “other” can lead to death camps and how a strong leader can promise the moon to give people pride in their national heritage.
This sounds very familiar and very frightening. I fear the same thing is happening at this very moment in our country.
The Rev. Robert Francis of Gladstone served in the Army from 1968 to 1971 and graduated in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in Judaic Studies from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In 1980, he graduated from the St. Paul School of Theology and served for eight years in the United Methodist Church. From 1988 to 2006, he went back into the military, serving as an Army chaplain. He and his wife, Cindy, have two adult daughters and three grandchildren.