Archive for March 26th, 2007

How much do you know about religion?

Mar 26, 2007 in Current Events

An AP article posted on Fark today revealed that Alabama residents polled higher on Biblical knowledge than the rest of America: “For example, nearly 70 percent of respondents to last week’s Press-Register/University of South Alabama survey correctly named all four Gospels.”

But Fark commenter “MrKraclenutz” noted: “As an Alabamian I have to say that while my fellow residents may sport a higher knowledge of the contents of the Bible, they in no way adhere to the teachings of said book at any higher rate.”

I guessed two of the Gospels correctly, John and Luke. The other two are not Paul, George, Ringo or Bo (for you Dukes of Hazzard fans). The correct answer is Matthew and Mark. Which are both better names for your children than Cody, Dakota or Ashton.

The article mentions the new book from Stephen Prothero, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know - and Doesn’t. The author makes the case that Americans — even those who are “Bible-believing” — don’t know jack about religion.

The main culprit for our religious illiteracy? It’s partly the Christian evangelicals themselves, who place more emphasis on emotion (read: “faith”) than knowledge and who teach doctrine primarily through dumbed-down Sunday school classes. Supreme Court decisions outlawing Bible readings in public schools have also had a chilling effect, even though the court has repeatedly stated that factual discussion of religion is okay.

The author recommends reinstating academic religious instruction in schools and colleges. In an age where religion is frequently the basis of political arguments and extremism runs rampant, a better knowledge of religion would go a long way toward lessening the influence of the bin Ladens, Falwells, Robertsons and Bushes of this world.