Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon His Name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all His wondrous works! Glory in His Holy Name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 1 Chronicles 16:8-10
The professor at University of Texas Rio Grand Valley had made his decision. That decision was made plain to his students through the course syllabus. And what was that decision? The professor decreed that students were to refrain from using the term "God bless you." The ban was in effect during all of his classes and tests.
It was an order which upset some of the students who felt it was a violation of their freedom of religion; others thought their prof was just being pretty picky.
It didn't take too long for the professor's rule to go viral.
So strong was the reaction in the general public, the University jumped on in with an explanation. It said, "The intent was not to limit the religious freedoms of (the UTRGV) students but to avoid unsolicited comments that might distract others." That could make sense if the professor had also said saying, "Gesundheit!" was unacceptable, or "Up your nose with a rubber hose!" or any of a thousand other disruptive things people might say.
Nope, the professor only forbade his students from saying, "God bless you."
To make a long story short, the prof has taken that line out of his course syllabus and said he will explain himself to the students. That's fantastic.
But ... and here is where it gets interesting, when I was researching the story, I came upon an article, "Why We Say Gesundheit When Someone Sneezes." This is what it says:
"The attraction of gesundheit isn't hard to miss. The English 'bless you' has inherent religious connotations. Some today simply aren't religious and so look for an alternative, while others have become more concerned about the political correctness of the words and phrases they use, and religion has always been a hot-button issue. Just as people are moving away from saying, 'Merry Christmas' in favor of 'Happy Holidays,' being able to wish someone 'health' rather than 'blessings' is seen as more politically correct."
Up until this time, I have both blessed and gesundheited people. No more. I'm going to be politically incorrect and regularly wish the Lord's blessings upon sneezers. Understand that's not because I'm being obstinate or contrary.
No, it's because I don't like it when God gets banished from my daily life and vocabulary.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I call upon Your Name as readily as You are ready to listen to my prayers and praises. In the Name of my Savior Jesus I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries