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Americans Don't Know Religion

Can you name the first five books of the Hebrew Bible/Christian Old Testament? What’s the sacred text of Islam? Can you name at least one sacred text of the Hindu religion? Apparently not many Americans can, according to a USA Today article that examines Americans' religious knowledge (or lack thereof).
"If you think Sunni and Shia are the same because they're both Muslim, and you've been told Islam is about peace, you won't understand what's happening in Iraq. If you get into an argument about gay rights or capital punishment and someone claims to quote the Bible or the Quran, do you know it's so?...We can't outsource this to demagogues, pundits and preachers with a political agenda." --Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University
The article mentions data from the Bible Literacy Project, a nonprofit group that advocates the non-religious teaching of the Bible in schools. According to some of their data, only 36% of high school teenagers know that Ramadan is the holy month of Islam and only 10% could name the world’s five major religions. Yet at least 81% of them knew the “golden rule.”

Included with the piece is a short and revealing quiz that tests your knowledge of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. I won’t say here what my score was, but let's just say that I should’ve paid a little more attention in Sunday school.

"Americans Get an 'F' in Religion" (USA Today, March 8, 2007)
"Bible Literacy Report (PDF)," Bible Literacy Project

For more info and some interesting stats on the world's religions, take a look at the Religion chapter of The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2007 (pages 711-722).


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