Ignorance of the Bible Isn’t Bliss
More than 10 percent of Americans believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. This is just one of the distressing
statistics that Stephen Prothero, the chair of the religion department at Boston University, presents in his book
Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—and Doesn’t. He claims that although the United
States is arguably the most religious nation in the developed world, it is also the most religiously ignorant.
How does your Biblical knowledge compare to that of your fellow Americans? Only half of those polled could name even
one of the Four Gospels. A mere one in three knew who delivered the Sermon on the Mount. And less than half of those polled
could identify the first book of the Bible. (We won’t insult you by printing the answers.)
On the other hand, approximately 75 percent of adults believe that the Bible teaches that “God helps those who
help themselves.” (Benjamin Franklin said it.)
It may be a bit surprising to learn that Evangelical Christians, who traditionally place a high value on Biblical
literacy, fared only slightly better than their non-evangelical counterparts. Unsurprisingly, however, Americans know even
less about Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism or Hinduism than about Christianity and Judaism.
This lack of Biblical proficiency is only one manifestation of a more general decline in the public’s cultural
and civic knowledge. According to polls conducted by the National Constitution Center, only one-third of Americans can name
even one of the rights protected by the First Amendment.
Bible in Modern Culture
11:03, Jun 1995)