I know, I know – I’ve been blogging about opinion articles lately. My apologies, but they’ve been about topics that interest me. Anyway, I enjoyed this one in the LAT the other day – Boston College religion chair and professor Stephen Prothero says we live in a nation of Christians who are essentially biblical idiots.
In a religious literacy quiz I have administered to undergraduates for the last two years, students tell me that Moses was blinded on the road to Damascus and that Paul led the Israelites on their exodus out of Egypt. Surveys that are more scientific have found that only one out of three U.S. citizens is able to name the four Gospels, and one out of 10 think that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. No wonder pollster George Gallup has concluded that the United States is “a nation of biblical illiterates.”
Biblical illiteracy is not just a religious problem. It is a civic problem with political consequences. How can citizens participate in biblically inflected debates on abortion, capital punishment or the environment without knowing something about the Bible? Because they lack biblical literacy, Americans are easily swayed by demagogues on the left or the right who claim ‚Äî often incorrectly ‚Äî that the Bible says this about war or that about homosexuality.
In just two short paragraphs, Prothero touches on two problems that irritate me greatly – people who argue about things they haven’t researched or know enough about and people who look to other people who are as weak as anyone else. I also found out firsthand how Bible illiterate some churchgoers are when I began teaching Christian education classes. Hardly anybody knew about Moses and the Exodus, and the kids only knew from the animated film, the Prince of Egypt!
Prothero says the solution lies in offering elective Bible literacy classes to high school students. Now, I’m a realist, so I know that will never happen. However, Bibles are cheap, plus there are libraries, not to mention all the films made portraying biblical events. Let’s get real and just admit that people just don’t want to know.
Anyway, are you curious to see how Bible literate you are? Take this short quiz and find out.