Sociologist delivers sermon on prejudice Talk kicks off relations week

March 22, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

You've got to be taught to hate and fear,

You've got to be taught from year to year,

It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear,

You've got to be carefully taught. . .

Sociology professor Richard Bucher knows a lot about teaching.

And as the congregation of Mount Olive United Methodist Church in Woodbine learned yesterday, he also knows a lot about prejudice.

In his lay sermon, "A Christian Dilemma," Mr. Bucher told the members of the tiny church that the county and church communities, like the country, have not held themselves accountable to "practice what they preach."

"I would like to pose a question to you this morning," said Mr. Bucher to the 18 people gathered for his message. "Is there a Christian dilemma? Are we, as Christians, torn and tortured by this conflict between our principles and our behavior?"

Mr. Bucher, who lives near Mount Airy and is a member of the Carroll County Community Relations Commission, has been speaking to schools and community groups about how prejudice affects the way society operates.

During his 20-minute talk -- which begins activities of Community Relations Week -- Mr. Bucher touched on many issues concerning prejudice and racism and how they affect our society.

"One of the most important Christian teachings is that we are all God's children," Mr. Bucher said. "We are all equal in his eyes and in his heart."

Mr. Bucher is the director of the Institute for InterCultural Learning at Baltimore City Community College, a multicultural program that celebrates diversity while cultivating community among the faculty, staff and students.

Although most of his talk was on the effects of racism, Mr. Bucher used a personal experience to remind the group that there are other forms of prejudice.

"Having a child who is autistic has taught me a lot about prejudice and what it's like being a social outsider -- being on the outside looking in," Mr. Bucher said of his son Jimmy, 16.

"You don't know what it's like to have a child like Jimmy, who in all his 16 years has never had a child call him up and invite him over to play," Mr. Bucher said.

Mr. Bucher talked about how children often taunt children who are "different" and make fun of what they don't understand.

He used the words from the musical "South Pacific" to illustrate how racism spreads from the mouths of adults to the ears of children, who eventually grow up to repeat the cycle without knowing how the myths are perpetuated.

"I have talked to students at Mount Airy Middle and Sykesville Middle, and prejudice is still pervasive and thriving among our children," Mr. Bucher said. "Oh, the groups may vary -- the nerds, the geeks -- but it is still there."

He emphasized that people should take responsibility for what they do and say instead of assuming racism and prejudice are problems associated with "other" groups of people.

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