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Rants / Debates (Serious) > Are Americans "religion illiterate"?

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message 1: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments This survey says so:

http://www.jsonline.com/features/reli...

Here's a set of sample questions:


http://media.journalinteractive.com/i...

I got all 15, but I totally had to guess on the last one.


message 2: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (ksprink) | 11469 comments i missed two. the last one and the one about prayer in school. i don't have kids in public school anymore so who knew.

i will def say from my experience with religion (i am a christian, and am not religious by my definition) there is much ignorance. many religious people defend their religion and attack others with no ammunition other than "oh yeah?" they really don't know enough about their own or the others to really make a convincing argument at all.


message 3: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11694 comments I missed the last one as well. The others? I had no trouble - possibly because, as a "strong" atheist, I've studied quite a bit on this.


message 4: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Lopez | 4728 comments I had a brain cramp on number 14 but got the others.

I'm never sure what to make of these polls of Americans' general knowledge of various subjects. They usually indicate that the majority of the population can't name the current vice president or recite the fifty states, etc. So if knowledge of comparative religion or religious history is weak, I guess it's not all that surprising.

I would say that, in my experience, Americans seem to be more likely to have a substantial scriptural background--the ability to cite chapter and verse, recite a passage by heart, compare various gospel descriptions of specific events--than are Europeans, or at least Europeans in the countries that I visit often. If you ride the subway in New York, you'll see people reading all kinds of things, but you'll see a remarkable number of people reading the Bible on the way to and from work. I've not noticed that very much in the Netherlands, where I've also spent a lot of time on trains.

Of course, that's a different kind of thing from what this test is about.


message 5: by Lori (new)

Lori I missed the last one too! The others are quite easy, at least to me. I've always thought the people who are non-religious are more knowledgeable about religions since they approach them all whereas someone who is deeply entrenched in only one are not at all curious about anything else.

In Jake's World History class they are learning about all religions, and yesterday the teacher asked about the difference between the OT and NT God. Jake, who usually doesn't participate, eagerly answered the OT is a prick and the NT is much nicer. He said the Catholics got very pissed, and one even hissed!


message 6: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) I missed three! I had no idea what Ramadan was. I've heard the term, but still, had no idea. I also figured the Bible would be banned in public school, even as "literature". Then, the last one. I knew Billy Graham was just a red herring, since it was the only name I actually knew it was tempting to pick it. So, I had a 50/50 shot with the other two and chose wrong.

Petra, I'm pretty sure "The Great Awakening" was some kind of reformation movement in The States way back when. There have been several. Yep, just googled it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Aw...


message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments I got them all, but the last one was just a guess.


message 8: by Lori (new)

Lori THomas Paine?

A joke. REALLY!

But it's really only relatively recent. He's not one of the big guns. Altho he should be.


message 9: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I got a little thrown by six, too, because I remember talking about how controversial trans-substantiation was in a class last semester...


Books Ring Mah Bell yes we are.

(but I got 'em all!)

:)

I don't get the chance to brag, very often, so there it was.


and I repeat, yes, we are.


message 11: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24357 comments Mod
Phil wrote: "I missed the last one as well. The others? I had no trouble - possibly because, as a "strong" atheist, I've studied quite a bit on this."

That's what they said on the Newshour - atheists did better than religious people. It's like the clip of Christine O'Donnell on Politically Incorrect where she was asserting that Jesus had said something in the book of Romans, and Bill Maher, said, "No, no, Jesus did not say anything in Romans." And then she said, "Well, the whole Bible is the word of God, so it's all Jesus' words" etc. But yeah, Jesus did not speak in Romans.


message 12: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24357 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: "I had a brain cramp on number 14 but got the others.

I'm never sure what to make of these polls of Americans' general knowledge of various subjects. They usually indicate that the majority of the ..."


I had a brain cramp on nirvana too but then I massaged my brain and it slowly came to me.

I got the last one wrong, though. I thought surely Jonathan Edwards must be too early for the First Great Awakening. So even though I had no idea who Charles Finney is/was, I voted for him.

I got #10 right but was suspicious it might be a trick question, like prayers led by the teacher in the classroom were banned, but if the teacher also doubled as a football coach they could pray on the field or something.


message 13: by Carol (new)

Carol | 1679 comments I guessed Charles Finney and was thrown by #6. The others weren't difficult and I don't know exactly why.

I try to learn a bit about others beliefs/cultures/etc. even if there's no chance I'll be believing it my own self.


Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments I knew all but the last one. This is interesting. Why this correlation between faith and ignorance? It doesn't have to be the case. I know that Jesuits are intellectually rigorous, and I understand that Judaism values scholarship. So what's going on here?

Does being religious discourage religious studies in certain groups of Americans? Or, are those with less education more likely to trust in faith over intellect?

I'd like to see a breakdown of religions and denominations by correct answers. And a breakdown by economic class as well.


message 15: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24357 comments Mod
I'd like to see a breakdown of religions and denominations by correct answers.

That would be interesting, yes. I'd actually like to see it broken down further, by congregation. There are some "Christian" churches that are not very rigorous in how they impart information. Joel Osteen, for example, leader of a mega-church. Are the members of his church actually reading the bible? Or are they only reading his books, which seem to be his own made-up happy talk bullshit theology? That would certainly explain a lot. I think also there are people who, when a poll taker asks them, will say they are religious or Christian but this doesn't necessarily mean they attend church, or read the Bible. I'm thinking these people failed the quiz in large numbers.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmmmmm, very interesting stat's. More interesting than the questions.


message 17: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I wonder if religious people tend to be knowledgeable about their religion but not others. I guess, in a weird way, that kind of makes sense. They picked their religion and want to delve deeper into it, perhaps at the expense of others.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Blinkers.


Books Ring Mah Bell Does being religious discourage religious studies in certain groups of Americans? Or, are those with less education more likely to trust in faith over intellect?

Both, I think.

My first roommate was a girl I met in college. She was raised in a very (what I see as) strict religion. (Netherland Christian Reformed). There was no tv (not all bad) school friends were the same as church friends and by God, "outside" ideas were wrong. and thus, discouraged.

I was deemed evil/dangerous because my parents were divorced.

My parents!!

She somehow bucked the system, nearly got kicked out of her yearbook for wearing a knee high skirt (that tramp!)... really had lots of arguments with her family...

I went to a Catholic mass once with my in laws, and the priest used a bit of Buddhist philosophy in his sermon, along with a lesson from the bible. and it fit, and it was good, and I actually enjoyed it... but BOY were some people around me STEAMED!
(that's of the devil, you know. Next thing you know we'll be praying to crystals and having gay orgies in the rectory!)

I think there are many religions out there that encourage life via faith alone, all the answers exist in a holy book or the church... and to look beyond that is dangerous.

Also, imagine how knowing other religions might make you think, or challenge your own beliefs?

It is a threat, really, that maybe you are wrong, or maybe there is more to God/Divinity/ whatever.... and if you hang on to your faith for comfort/hope (Yep, soon as I die I'm going to Heaven to see my child that died! or I'm killing infidels and now I get virgins!!!) exploring or trying to understand other religions may rattle that faith and that's just downright scary for some people.


I know that was all rambly and incoherent. I 'm sleep deprived.


message 20: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) RandomAnthony wrote: "I wonder if religious people tend to be knowledgeable about their religion but not others. I guess, in a weird way, that kind of makes sense. They picked their religion and want to delve deeper i..."


In my experience, being a Christian in three states, two countries and having gone through seminary; I have to say that a significant percentage of Christians don't bother to delve very deep. In fact, not deep enough to even get wet.


Books Ring Mah Bell t a significant percentage of Christians don't bother to delve very deep.

do you think this is due to "we have the answers, duh, so why look?"

or fear "what if I'm wrong?!?!"

or, as Petra says... disloyalty/slippery slope to the devil.


message 22: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Laziness, more likely. Just accept the status quo, do what's expected and "look the part".


message 23: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11694 comments A discussion on The View on Monday veered off into evolution. Apparently Sherri does not believe that evolution is real because no one has found "the missing link." Holy crap, Sherri, welcome to 1950!

In earlier shows, she has said she interprets her bible literally. Heck, the woman isn't even sure if the world is flat or round because the bible doesn't address it!


message 24: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Interpreting the bible literally is a tough road to slog. I wonder how she's faring with finding clothes that don't mix cotton and polyester.


message 25: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Actually Phil, it does. The bible refers to the earth as a "sphere"...at the very least a "circle" in Isaiah 40:22.

Not that that makes Sherri (whoever that is) less of an idiot.


message 26: by Phil (last edited Sep 29, 2010 09:00AM) (new)

Phil | 11694 comments You can see Sherri here, on the show.

Start at the 8:00 minute mark and watch five minutes or so.


message 27: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Um...thanks, but I kinda try to avoid The View. Actually I avoid talk shows in general.

I'm a creationist/evolutionist. I totally believe God created the world, but NOT in 7 actual 24hr days (that's absurd, given the scientific evidence as to the age of the planet), and I totally buy evolution within species as fact. Jumping species...yeah, you're not gonna convince me of that, so save your breath. Christians who try to negate science using the bible are ridiculous. That isn't what the bible is meant for. Especially using the genealogies to try to "prove" how old the earth is! There are whole generations left out, you can tell by comparing different listings of the genealogies. Their purpose was to show lineage...ancestry. Idiots.


message 28: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Oh, and I buy the "Big Bang" theory as the most logical. God made the "Bang". :)


message 29: by Félix (last edited Sep 29, 2010 09:13AM) (new)

Félix (habitseven) Have you read Origin of Species, Amelia? He said with limited utilization of breath.


message 31: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Larry wrote: "Have you read Origin of Species, Amelia? He said with limited utilization of breath."

Nope. I should, I know. It's down to pure laziness that I haven't.


message 32: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Phil wrote: "Kneel before Zod!"



*Snicker*


message 33: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) I believe the part that throws off many evolution thinkers is the concept of deep time, and how much change that can occur from very small genetic mutations over billions of trips around the star in the center of the system.


message 34: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Lopez | 4728 comments Are you saying billions with your Carl Sagan voice, Larry?


Books Ring Mah Bell I wonder how she's faring with finding clothes that don't mix cotton and polyester.

OH!! That's funny as hell.


Books Ring Mah Bell Leviticus ROCKS.


message 37: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Leviticus BITES, Bellsy. Can you even imagine being a Hebrew back then? Gah! Every single time I have tried to read the Bible cover to cover it peters out at Leviticus.


message 38: by Lori (new)

Lori I don't think we ever read Leviticus in Hebrew school. What's in that?

Amelia, if I believed in god, then your reasoning is right on. I've got no problem with it. In fact I rather think science and religion is a great mix, and don't disproved each other as much as the nutjobs on the extremes try to shout it into our heads.


message 39: by Jim (new)

Jim | 6485 comments Amelia wrote: "Leviticus BITES, Bellsy. Can you even imagine being a Hebrew back then? Gah! Every single time I have tried to read the Bible cover to cover it peters out at Leviticus."

I always quit at Genesis.


message 40: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Is trying to read the Bible start to finish really a worthwhile endeavor? It's an interesting question.


message 41: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Genesis is awesome! I love Genesis. Great stories.

Lori, it's just listing all of the minutia of laws and rules for life and sacrifice and tithing and so on. Tediousness that is also repeated over and over and over again until you want to SCREAM.


message 42: by Lori (new)

Lori Thanks Amelia. That's what I thought. What's Deuteronomy? Is that the one about who begat who?


message 43: by Meels (last edited Sep 29, 2010 11:11AM) (new)

Meels (amelia) Deuteronomy and Leviticus have genealogies I think. Deut. repeats quite a lot of the tedium of Lev. In fact, in The Narrated Bible (which takes everything and puts it in chronological order and combines any repetition into one passage) it's almost down to one book between them.


message 44: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11694 comments When do we get to Moroni and the Nephites & Lamanites?


message 45: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11694 comments Confused by what? Why they would believe such an obvious con meant to garner money and babes?


message 46: by Meels (last edited Sep 29, 2010 11:26AM) (new)

Meels (amelia) I don't know much about it, 'cept they can get baptized for the dead. That's why they're so into genealogies. So, like, your great great grandkid goes Mormon, they can get baptized for you after you're dead and then you're in!


message 47: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) No idea. I always imagine that prophet dude licked a bad frog. Why people accepted it as fact is beyond me. But then, I'm sure lots of folks say that about me, because I believe the bible is God's word. (Though no, I do not take it all literally. Much was meant to be figurative. That seems obvious to me.)


Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments BunWat wrote: "Confused by many things; the whole everybody gets their own planet thing seems kind s biggun. What's the deal with the Jesus came to America thing, what is that supposed to be about? Why of all t..."

I always picture these planets to be very small ones, akin to the ones the Little Prince visits. But without baobabs. :)


message 49: by Phil (last edited Sep 29, 2010 11:54AM) (new)

Phil | 11694 comments Some of those are answered in the book, "Mormonism for Dummies." I bought it when we first moved here, and it has been a good resource.

One issue that makes answering your questions difficult is that there's not always a clear demarcation of what is scripture and what is something a prophet said while "speaking as a man."

Generally, the four standard works are considered scripture (King James Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants). The writings and speeches of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other prophets, however, are viewed by many as "the word of god" and by others as opinions from fallible men. Heck, even official prophecies have been reversed over time, with the leaders saying things about god not revealing some truths until we're ready to receive them.

With that confusion as a starting point is it any wonder that the religion is hard to understand?


message 50: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11694 comments It's patriarchal because it was created by a misogynist who loved to boink anything in a skirt (look out, Kevin!).


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