Circle circle. Dot dot

A scourge that was found in playgrounds everywhere, children feared catching it. Most likely, you or someone you knew in your youth had it at one point or another during your childhood. Highly contagious and communicable by mere touch or even being associated with someone who had it, one had to take extra precautions to avoid the affliction. One could either stay in isolation or be vaccinated to prevent contacting it. Thankfully the shots were cheap and easily obtainable. One merely had to cross their fingers and chant "circle, circle, dot, dot, now I've got my cootie shots!" More feared than the flu or tonsillitis, catching cooties was THE most dread childhood disease (at least from the perspective of an elementary schooler).

Adults are more wise, though. We understand that people don't get "cooties" by association. Right?

You would think that we've matured past preteen beliefs, but I'm amazed at the number of adults who avoid even the mere mention of things that they perceive to have become "contaminated" by those they dislike. For instance, despite having been taught for decades at the seminary, "Spiritual Formation" apparently became anathema because other people who aren't Adventist used the term too. Despite having the same content, the course title had become so "cootie riddled" that it had to be renamed. And regardless of the fact that meditation is mentioned several times in the Old Testament, so called Eastern religions have totally ruined the practice for Christianity (shhh--don't pay attention to the fact that Jerusalem is IN the Middle East…). And forget about the discipline of contemplative prayer-- cooties! Yes; any time those with whom we doctrinally differ make use of something, we must distance ourselves at all costs to avoid their religious cooties. Not even God is immune!

Sure God may be Omnipotent, but omnipotence is nothing against religious cooties. Other people that don't believe as we believe say that they also worship God. Of course, we can't discard God altogether so we make it a point to say that they don't worship the same God we do. Besides a shared religious ancestor and numerous common beliefs, we are adamant that Muslims and Christians cannot possibly worship the same God. Some people hang their hat on the fact that Muslims do not accept Jesus as Divine. Therefore, if they don't accept the Jesus as God Incarnate, there's no way they could believe in the same God at all. But the wrinkle in that argument is that the Jews don't believe in Jesus as God either, and there's no doubt that Christians and Jews have the same God. Some will contest that pre-Jesus, Jews looked forward to the Messiah, so they had faith in Jesus prior to His first Advent. But where does that leave modern Jews? Are we seriously saying that they suddenly started worshiping a different Divine Being?

Some will take a different tack. They point to Muslim extremists and their beliefs and actions to demonstrate that their God is different. After all, how could they claim to live by God's Word, and do such heinous things? Well, people claim a lot things. History is littered with stories of despicable actions done in the name of Christianity (chattel slavery, the establishment and perpetuation of the KKK, the Crusades…) but that only points to the skewed beliefs of those individuals. That doesn't say anything about God. Nowhere in Scripture is God's goodness predicated on the goodness of God's people. If anything, the Word shows the exact opposite: God is good regardless and in spite of the wickedness of the people of God. In fact "goodness" itself is an attribute of God alone (Romans 3:10-12,Psalm 14:1-3,Psalm 53:1-3).

I don't mean to chill legitimate theological inquiry. However, the greatest amount of discourse regarding this subject revolves around not wanting to share anything with others who don't believe as we do. We dislike what some Muslims have done globally. So, we take great pains to distance ourselves from them so as not to become tainted by association. Sharing the same God became an issue in the 21st century because of terrorism. Christians pushed Muslims away because we didn't want to be seen as related in any way. But we can't continue to run away every time we have something in common with people who have other perspectives--or even dangerous ones. The truth is that we will continue to see that we use and share many things with other religions. Islamophobia is immature. And to that I say, "Grow up". You won't catch cooties. I double-triple promise.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

We don’t have to cross the ocean blue, and traverse the deserts beyond, to look for “cooties”. The “raison d’etre” for the church we hold in common here, is precisely to identify the infested and offer a cleansing, all the time shouting, “Come out of her my people”. The current cause celeb is to be nice to everybody, even those whose holy book begs for cleansing through ultimatum, “join us or be killed”. Yes, we have those too - how different is the "third angel’s message, really - and what “dyed in the wool” Adventist isn’t waiting for vindication…

As Christians, our job is to offer Christ - not to whole nations and regimes, but to individuals, as we meet them, one by one. We are not to judge or condemn; but to “feed the hungry and bind up their wounds” - but there is no such mandate for manifested evil. Evil is evil in any language. Most reasonably intelligent people can identify it pretty quick. It is our job, to protect the vulnerable, the defenseless. What is “immature” is not to make a distinction between respect for an ideology, verses respect for its adherents. We don’t owe Islam anything, but we do have cause to condemn it, based on its fruits. We do owe the individuals who believe in it, respect as God’s children.


Our behavior toward others, especially those with whom we disagree, betrays the identity of the god we serve - no matter how we verbally identify that god . If we love our enemies and do good to them, then we clearly serve the God that was demonstrated in the life and teachings of Jesus. If we kill, hurt, defame, or otherwise damage our enemies, then we serve a different god. This is true whether we call ourselves Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, or Jews, etc. We may choose to distance ourselves from those who persecute us, but Jesus calls us to love our enemies and do good to them. It seems reasonable that it would be easier to do good to our enemies when we are close to them, so, is there any excuse to distance ourselves from anyone? Who was it that said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”!


Great article! As Adventist we are “experts” on Social, Theological, and Moral Cooties! says "Cooties is a word in North American English, used by children, referring to a fictitious disease or condition, often infecting members of the opposite sex. One catches cooties through any form of bodily contact, proximity, contact with an infected person’s possessions, or third-party transmission. In prepubescent children, it effectively serves as a device for enforcing separation of the sexes."
These mythological bugs and disease of the schoolyard or playground are expressions of prejudice, bias and discrimination. The word probably derives from the Malay kutu, meaning “a biting, parasitic insect”. Often it is believed by some to spread from female children to male children (or the opposite, male to female) via kisses or other public displays of affection.

As the world becomes more interconnected—more collaborations between countries, more intermarrying between different groups—more and more people are encountering greater diversity of others in everyday life. Just ask yourself if you’ve ever been asked, “What are you?” Such a question would be preposterous if you were only surrounded by members of your own group. Categories, then, are becoming more and more uncertain, unclear, volatile, and complex. People’s identities are multifaceted, intersecting across gender, race, class, age, region, and more. Identities are not so simple, but maybe as the 21st century unfurls, we will recognize each other by the content of our character instead of the cover on our outside.

The definition of prejudice provided by Gordon Allport 60 years ago is still used as an authoritative definition of the term prejudice: or having, spreading, using, “cooties” aversive or hostile attitude toward a person who belongs to a group, simply because he belongs to that group, and is therefore presumed to have the objectionable qualities ascribed to that group.Prejudice is the result of being ignorant and being afraid. Prejudice is seen as having different sources, chief among them being different forms of fear.

The Integrated Threat Theory of Prejudice is inclusive of several different types of threat: the expectation that the other will do one harm; the perception that the different worldview of the other will create challenges to one’s own; the presumption that interaction will lead to embarrassment, rejection, or ridicule; and the generation of fear of negative consequences as a result of negative stereotypes.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Words, in fact, can hurt; vicious language is part of the arsenal of the bigot and the bully alike. Attitudes, however, by themselves, are more likely to hurt the holder than the target. If I avoid people who are different than myself, I stunt my own growth, and have little impact on the target of my disaffection. But, each of us is likely to translate attitude into behaviors, whether they be sticks, stones, words, or things more subtle.

Unfortunately, prejudice is not simply an attitude that remains internal to its owner; it impacts behavior. When negative attitudes on the basis of differences translate into behavior, we have as a result, “cooties” discrimination and the social inequity it produces.

When I was younger, I was puzzled by the energy with which my father pursued learning so many different languages (Biblical Greek, Latin, German and English) and the amount of time he spent on a wide assortment of cultural events, when we were only connected by heritage to some of these things. I don’t remember the question I asked him, but his answer stuck with me: “You can’t really understand your own culture unless you understand others.” Perhaps far from being a detraction to one’s identification with, and love for, one’s own culture, learning to appreciate those of others could actually be an enhancement. It certainly gave me a “a cure, an immunity” to cooties!


I believe that was Abraham Lincoln. I think we need to be careful with this one. Would we tell a woman in an abusive relationship to keep her assailant close…or to get out for the sake of protecting her own life and well-being, and maybe even the lives of her children if she has them? The NT even gives instances where Jesus and Paul distanced themselves from persecutors, by getting out and going to other towns or cities…not remaining as sitting ducks where they were.

Sometimes love calls for putting limits on people’s bad behavior. I can still love you, and not retaliate in kind, but I don’t have to set myself up unnecessarily as a target for abuse. Removing oneself can sometimes send enough of a message that brings about reconsideration and grieving over a lost relationship. That grieving could lead to repentance, and eventually healthy reconciliation. That can sometimes be a good thing to do to our enemies, or to those who treat us as such.




I am reminded that Israel was never encouraged to associate with Canaanites or other idol worshiping faiths. Major and Minor Prophets encouraged isolation and separation from other religious faiths—how could it but result “in discrimination and social inequity.” God would often punish with judgments when Israel accommodated any form of religious idol worship, the universal practice of different faiths.

David captured the negative cultural sentiment saying “I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord (Ps 31:6) and “All the gods of the peoples are worthless” (Ps 96:5) Moses bluntly said, “They sacrificed to demons that were no gods (DT 32:17), calling them “goat demons, after whom they whore” (Lev 17:7). Even more graphically related the words of God saying, “I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols, and my soul will abhor you.”

From Mount Sinai God made it plain that idol based faiths will be held accountable up to the great-great grandchildren: “You shall have no other gods before me… for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me (other religions).”


I found amusing a recent article in Adventist World, in which an Adventist father became excited when his Adventist child and her Moslem playmate agreed that Jesus created the world. I was amused because Jesus as creator is noted eight times in the Koran. This is a standard Islamic belief. It might serve Adventists well to learn, at minimum, the basics of world religions, in order to be good neighbors.

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The author says, “not wanting to share anything”. Then the author says “we take great pains to distance ourselves from them so as not to become tainted by association”. Both these statements are patently false. Every year the US brings 300K Arabs here to become Americans. That is equal to or even greater than the populations of Des Moines or Lincoln, Neb. 92% of them are on full supplements. The current administration wants to increase the flow. How much sharing does it take to at least stop you from saying “we aren’t doing anything”?

And the author wants to claim that we all worship the same God/Allah, Muslims and Christians alike. If you want to be honest, that is exactly what the Muslim is trained to say too: And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, but say, ‘we believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which has come down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one’".

Muslims will always rate Muhammad above Jesus. Muslims will always deny that God has a Son. Muslims will deny that Christ literally died, was buried and rose again. A Muslim cannot deny that his Koran has 240 verses that incite violence and demand submission.

I am proud to pay my share of income taxes, some of which will be used to fund worthy immigrants. I will be respectful and kind to the Arabs I see in my towns and cities. But please don’t say that we are doing nothing! And to say that we all worship God, Allah and Jesus together is troubling, coming from an SdA pastor.

And you may want to consider that jihadists who are currently entering under the guise of “refugee” is a bit more serious than getting cooties.

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All Arab-speaking people are not Muslims; nor are all Muslims terrorists. The U.S. has its own share of terrorists. Many are Christians, Coptic and various branches.

What percentage of the Muslim terrorists who are in the U.S. to their total population? Fear distorts rationality but perfect love casts out fear. Before condemning someone for his nationality or religion, Adventists, of all people, should respect others as those who are told they will one day become the persecuted and who will then stand up for them?

There is one God, He has been called by other names by other people which does not affect Him. All Christians believe in one God, also.

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You ave the Muslim prblerm, k. We alsdo hasve it, althought om another level.

But WE heve a nesw hymnal in German : In germany in <swizerland - and of course , you know, e in austria are the reel keepers ofthe highled torch - - the same , but censored. Inbetrween there are the battles, quite hoistile sometimes, about the Devil creeping into the Church by “charismatic songs” ( - no clear definition for them , but seminaries, lectures, enterprises against the whole hymnal.)

The “Messiah” is godly, as long as "our “choir and orchestra (really simply too small for a good performance ) presents it. And we listen to Brahms “German Requiem” - the choir also too small - - the Dettinger Tedeum” by Handel and a Requiem by RC Bruckner. (The same limitations !) and nobody gut it, that the “Sanctus” of Schuberts “Deutsche Messe” is - like in the US - hymnal - now also in ours .

And the organ, its history and its costs (!!) But no drum, so never the great last Biblical oratorio by Schmidtf :" Das Buch mit sieben Siegel" - 1938 - late Romanticism - the drums !!