Feature

Getting an ‘F’ in religion

“Even if religion doesn’t make any sense to you, you can’t make sense of the world without knowing something about the world’s religions,” said Stephen Prothero in USA Today.

Stephen ProtheroUSA Today

Americans are religiously illiterate, said Stephen Prothero. A new study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has confirmed just how little most people in this supposedly pious nation know about the Bible and the tenets of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or any of the world’s major faiths. Of 32 simple questions on world religion—questions as basic as naming the first book of the Bible (Genesis)—the nation as a whole got only 50 percent correct. That’s an “F” in any school. Does this matter? It sure does.

“Even if religion doesn’t make any sense to you, you can’t make sense of the world without knowing something about the world’s religions.” Faith plays a major role in the lives, politics, and decisions of billions of people, and has helped shaped nations and history. Do we really want to raise children who know nothing of the Bible; or about how Christianity differs from Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam; or why India and Pakistan glower at each other from behind nuclear stockpiles? Children who leave school knowing nothing about the world’s religions are not truly educated.

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