Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Point of This Project

Guess what? Most people who profess to be religious, including evangelical Christians, have obviously never read the Bible. The Boston Globe's Christopher Shea explains the findings of BU professor Stephen Prothero:

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).

So, if you claim to live a biblically based life, or to found your belief system in the Bible, the least you can do is know what's in it. If you don't like my critical perspective, feel free to argue with it. But at least read the damn thing.