21 July 2012

Omission in Class Survey

My daughter found a major error of omission in a school textbook. At least, having spent so much time with me and her mother, she believes it's a major error. This is the text with the error:

Question 8

The religion I follow is
  • Christian-Protestant
  • Christian-Roman Catholic
  • Jewish
  • Hindu
  • Sikh
  • Islam
  • Buddhist
  • Atheist (I do not believe in God.)
  • Agnostic (I don't know if there us a God, or I believe the ultimate reality is unknown.)
  • Native spirituality
  • other
Did you notice the error?

Not being one to leave such errors go uncorrected, I just sent an e-mail to the creators of this textbook. This is the body of the e-mail without change:
My daughter is working through Social Studies 20 - 1 · Perspectives on Nationalism, in which she found a very significant omission. On pages 16 through to 18 is a Class Survey. The first two possible answers for question 8 of this survey, "The religion I follow is," are "Christian-Protestant" and "Christian-Roman Catholic." This leaves a large number of Christians no option but to choose "other." Included in these "other" Christians is the second largest group of Christians in the world, not to mention a number of Catholics in full communion with the Pope of Rome.

This question posed no difficulties for my daughter to answer since she is Roman Catholic on account of the fact that I am Roman Catholic. That is, I belong to the Roman jurisdiction of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. However, her mother is not Roman Catholic, but Ukrainian Catholic. That is, she belongs to the Ukrainian jurisdiction of the Byzantine Rite of the Catholic Church.

To suggest that a member of one of the Eastern Rites (the Alexandrian Rite, the Antiochene Rite, the Armenian Rite, the Chaldean Rite, and the Byzantine Rite) is Roman Catholic is a great insult to their religious heritage. Eastern Rite Catholics, though hurt by such insults, are used to them. Eastern Christians that belong to these same rites but are not in full communion with the Pope of Rome, usually referred to as Eastern Orthodox, are extremely irritate at any suggestion that they are Roman Catholic. These members of the eastern orthodox catholic Churches make up the largest group of Christians second only to Roman Catholics.

This, of course, does not even take into account the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Church, which are also neither Protestant nor Roman Catholic.

The most correct text for the second option of question 8 would read, "Christian-catholic" (note the lower case "c" in "catholic"). There are, however, many Protestants that would take offence at this as they consider themselves catholic with a lowercase "c." A text that would be less offensive to these Protestants would read, "Christian-Catholic/Orthodox."

To be truly inclusive, the text of the first option should read, "Christian-Protestant/Anglican." However, even this may not be entirely correct as some Anglicans are more closely aligned with Roman Catholicism than Protestantism. Although, many such Anglicans are coming into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church through the Personal Ordinariate.

There are even some Protestant denominations that deny their Protestant roots, calling themselves non-denominational Christians, not to mention some sects, such as the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, that were derived from Protestantism, but are clearly not Protestant.

Actually, both Protestantism and Anglicanism were derived from Roman Catholicism. Hence, the first option could read, "Christian-Roman Catholic/Protestant/Anglican," while the second could read, "Christian-Orthodox." Historically, this is entirely correct, but a bit cumbersome. The same definition could be communicated with the text of the first option reading, "Christian-Western," and the second, "Christian-Eastern."

As you can see, there are a great many ways to be Christian other than just Protestant and Roman Catholic. I strongly suggest changing the text of the first option to "Christian-Protestant/Anglican" and the second to "Christian-Catholic/Orthodox." This is still not entirely inclusive, leaving the only other possibility of combining the text of both options to simply "Christian."