We all know what Christians are known for and negative perception by outsiders. When I was in high school, my friends and I mocked the religious believers who fit every stereotype of a Christian and called them "churchies."

I discovered that perception has not changed for the last 500 years in Western culture.

Renaissance writers and artists have criticized and mocked the religious Christians. Even before Shakespeare's time literature mocked Christians for being sheltered, hypocritical, self-righteous, judgmental, socially maladjusted and so on. . .

Shakespeare and his contemporaries made fun of the Puritans. And yes, the Puritans had some very extreme ideas even though they were passionate in faith and saw purpose. Malvolio in "Twelfth Night" was a comic figure making fun of Puritan ethic. When I took an advanced Shakespeare class, I'm getting the impression that he sounds like a horny young guy with a dirty mind. His sonnets and plays are full of sexual innuendos and coarse jesting. If we translated the Shakespearean language to modern day English, it would be equivalent to movies like "Saved" "The Family Guy" and maybe "The Simpsons"

I loved Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and some of his other writings address Christian ethic. The issues in the church hasn't really changed much since 200 years ago.

There were comedic plays in the 18th and 19th centuries that also mocked the Methodists for their fervor and cliched speech that is unrecognizable to those outside the church.

If we translated the language, it would have been considered popular entertainment or that is how the audience of that time understood them.

So, the popular perception of Christians has not changed much since Shakespeare's times. In America, evangelical Christians are known for Republican politics and hypocrisy.

From what I understood, during the time of Acts of the Bible or in the first century, the Christian faith was ridiculed. A Roman citizen would have most likely said something along the lines of, "You know these Christians have some ridiculous spiritual ideas...but I have to admit you should see how much they love one another, love other people and are faithful. It's unbelievable."

Now, would anyone say that about believers today?

Indu Shanmugam