Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Biblically Illiterate Christians???

Here's a shocker, coming from the Boston Globe:

Holy Book Learning Americans are shockingly illiterate when it comes to religions -- including their own.

Stephen Prothero, a professor of religious studies and chair of the religion department at Boston University, thinks he may have found something that conservative Christians and liberal secularists can agree on: It's not a good thing if students, whether religious or not, think Joan of Arc was Noah's wife -- or stare blankly when a teacher (or President Bush or Hillary Clinton) refers to a "Good Samaritan."

In his new book, "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know -- and Doesn't," Prothero lays out the evidence of what he considers Americans' paradoxical, and troubling, religious ignorance. According to various surveys conducted since 1990, half of all Americans can't name even one of the four canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), the cornerstone of the New Testament. A majority can't name the first book of the Bible (Genesis). This suggests a curious unfamiliarity with a text that two-thirds of Americans believe contains the answers to all of life's questions.

This ignorance about basic religious and Biblical matters crosses all sorts of sectarian lines. In a survey from 2000, 60 percent of evangelicals, but only 51 percent of Jews, answered yes when asked whether Jesus was born in Jerusalem (the New Testament says he was born, as we're reminded by all those Christmas carols, in Bethlehem). Less surprising, students do even worse when asked almost anything about religions besides Christianity. Prothero has replicated these findings in surveys of his own students at BU.
If Christians ever became familiar with their own Scriptures I might have to shut down this blog, since the Word-Faith and Prophetic proponents, among others, would be out of business. In fact, everyone would undoubtedly turn Lutheran!



At March 08, 2007 7:59 PM, Blogger Mike Messerli said...

you are right, and funny! Lutheran indeed!

thanks for the post. It's obvious that this is a real problem, and it's affecting the church in a very bad way, isn't it?

At April 16, 2007 11:46 AM, Blogger healtheland said...

"In fact, everyone would undoubtedly turn Lutheran!" I wouldn't go that far :-)


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