Imam Kip Curnutt, Director of Religious Education and Associate Imam of Masjid At-Tawheed in Grand Rapids, responds:
“I think this problem comes down to how we deal with moral responsibility and forgiveness. In Islam, once a person reaches puberty, they are morally responsible for their actions. This means that being a teenager does not mean that someone’s actions have no consequences for adults. However, at the same time, it is understood that every human being is fallible and makes mistakes. Mistakes, or even sins, are only bad for someone from whom they learn nothing. As mentioned in a prophetic narrative: every son of Adam sins, and the best of those who sin are those who repent. I think it’s important that as a society we teach our young people to take responsibility for their actions from an early age and to understand that they have consequences in the real world. At the same time, we must provide them with an environment that allows them to grow and learn from the mistakes they have made.
Reverend Steven W. Manskar, a retired United Methodist pastor, responds:
“Because current brain science tells us that the male brain is not fully developed until around the age of 25, it is neither fair nor just to punish anyone for statements made at age 16. year. Shares. But comments made during puberty should not be held against anyone. Mr. Kashuv should be judged by who he is today. Not the immature 16 year old who behaved stupidly.
Father Michael Nasser, who writes from an Eastern Christian perspective and is pastor of St. Nicholas Orthodox Christian Church, responds:
“There are two main teachings of Jesus that I think apply to this situation. The first is that we should not personally engage in judging others. There is, of course, room for societal safeguards such as law enforcement and the judiciary, but on a personal level, Jesus urges us to “judge not, lest we be judged.”
“The second principle that comes to mind is repentance. The first word of Jesus’ sermon was ‘repent’. It teaches that we can and should change when we find ourselves having committed wrongdoings and that we should each honor the other’s repentance and not hold back for past transgressions.
Reverend Sandra Nikkel, senior pastor of the Conklin Reformed Church, responds:
“I don’t agree with us being punished for the mistakes we made as teenagers. Educated yes; but not punished. It’s a fact that our brains aren’t even fully formed until we’re past adolescence. How then could we hold teenagers to the same standards of responsibility that we would hold for anyone else? Our current “cancel culture,” so popular these days, is anything but sympathetic, empathetic, considerate, or thoughtful.
Fred Stella, the Pracharak (minister of outreach) of the West Michigan Hindu Temple, responds:
“With the immortality of the web, we can freeze people in time, not seeing the growth that may have taken place over the years. While I agree with the premise that we shouldn’t be judged on everything we’ve said and done in our teenage years, there’s a big difference between accessing personal development between, say, 19 and 35, and having the same kind of determination of someone at 18 who may have erred in judgment at age 16. That seems to be the case here. A quick search of Mr. Kashuv online leads me to question his sincerity. While Harvard may have made the right call in this case, the bigger question still needs to be addressed in general.
“Of course, it can be easy to apologize for things said decades ago, but beyond apologies which may or may not be sincere, I would look at the actions of the person. could he or she have done in the years since (and not just before they can believe eyes are on them) to indicate that a genuine change of heart and mine has taken place?
“Example: Former US Representative Tulsi Gabbard (who happens to be a Hindu) was raised in a conservative household and joined anti-gay movements as a teenager. She later apologized and the legislation that she backed once in office was a clear indication that she meant what she said.
Reverend Colleen Squires, pastor at All Souls Community Church of West Michigan, a Unitarian Universalist congregation, responds:
“I think most older adults regret the mistakes made in our youth, it’s how we hold ourselves accountable for our actions that matters most. Harvard or any school vets all potential students based primarily on their high school behavior, it’s standard practice. I think what’s most important for this question is the timing of the apology. Kyle Kashuv has apologized after being rejected from Harvard. Had he acknowledged his behavior in the application process, things might have been different for him. I think at the age of 16 a person should know that using the n-word 11 times in a text is horribly offensive and wrong.
This column answers questions of ethics and religion by putting them to a multi-faith panel of spiritual leaders from the Grand Rapids area. We would love to hear about common ethical questions that arise in your day as well as religious questions that you have. Tell us how you solved an ethical dilemma and see how members of the Ethics and Religion Talk panel would have handled the same situation. Please send your questions to [email protected].
The Rapidiana program of the nonprofit 501(c)3 Community Media Center, relies on community support to help defray the cost of training journalists and publishing content.
We need your help.
If each of our readers and content creators who value this community platform helps support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around the issues for years to come.
Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.