Pew Research Poll: Non-religious know the most about religion

http://www.pewforum.org/2010/09/28/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey-who-knows-what-about-religion/

The Pew Forum’s religious knowledge survey included 32 questions about various aspects of religion: the Bible, Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, world religions, religion in public life, and atheism and agnosticism. The average respondent answered 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions correctly. Just 2% of those surveyed answered 29 or more questions correctly (including just eight individuals, out of 3,412 surveyed, who scored a perfect 32); 3% correctly answered fewer than five questions (including six respondents who answered no questions correctly).

The scores on individual questions ranged from 8% to 89% correct. At the top end of that scale, at least eight-in-ten Americans know that teachers are not allowed to lead public school classes in prayer, that the term “atheist” refers to someone who does not believe in God, and that Mother Teresa was Catholic. At the other end of the spectrum, just 8% know that the 12th-century philosopher and Torah scholar Maimonides was Jewish, and 11% correctly identify Jonathan Edwards, viewed by many scholars as the pre-eminent American theologian, as a preacher during the First Great Awakening, a period of heightened religious fervor in the 1730s and ’40s.

Overall, the three groups that perform best in this survey are atheists and agnostics (who get an average of 20.9 out of 32 questions right), Jews (20.5 questions right on average) and Mormons (20.3 questions right). Looked at another way, 27% of Jews, 22% of atheists and agnostics, and 20% of Mormons score in the top 10% of all respondents in overall number of correct answers to religious knowledge questions, getting at least 26 questions right. As will be discussed in detail later in this report, these groups display greater religious knowledge even when education and other factors are held constant. Mormons outperform Jews as well as atheists and agnostics on questions about the Bible but do not perform as well as the other two groups on questions having to do with world religions such as Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

White evangelical Protestants answer an average of 17.6 religious knowledge questions correctly. Though white evangelicals have lower scores than Jews and atheists/agnostics overall, they do significantly better on questions about the Bible. White evangelicals correctly answer an average of 5.1 out of seven Bible questions, compared with 4.4 among atheists and agnostics and 4.3 among Jews. Mormons answer almost six of the seven Bible questions correctly on average.

White mainline Protestants and white Catholics each closely resemble the public overall, getting about half of the 32 religious knowledge questions right on average (16 for white Catholics, 15.8 for white mainline Protestants). Those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular” answer an average of 15.2 questions correctly. Black Protestants answer an average of 13.4 questions correctly, and Hispanic Catholics get 11.6 right on average. Scores on this survey are higher among whites than among blacks or Hispanics even after controlling for other factors linked with religious knowledge, including education and religious affiliation.

The remainder of this section analyzes religious knowledge within the following subject areas:

The Bible: Five questions on the Old Testament and two on the New Testament.

Elements of Christianity: The Bible items plus questions about Catholic teaching on the Eucharist, Protestant teaching about salvation through faith alone, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther and the First Great Awakening.

Elements of Judaism: The five Old Testament items plus questions about the Jewish Sabbath and Maimonides.

Elements of Mormonism: Three questions on the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Book of Mormon.

Knowledge of world religions: Items on the Jewish Sabbath and Maimonides (Judaism), Ramadan and the Koran (Islam), nirvana and the Dalai Lama (Buddhism), Vishnu and Shiva (Hinduism), Greek mythology (Zeus) and the religious composition of India, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Atheism and agnosticism: Definitions of each term.

Role of religion in public life: Questions on separation of church and state and constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools.

Knowledge of nonreligious topics: Nine questions on politics, science, history and literature.

The Bible

The survey included seven questions about the Bible, tapping people’s knowledge on five topics from the Old Testament (the name of the first book of the Bible, the Ten Commandments and the identities of Abraham, Job and Moses) and two topics from the New Testament (the names of the four Gospels and the birthplace of Jesus).
Old Testament Questions

Nearly two-thirds of the public (63%) correctly name Genesis as the first book of the Bible when asked this question in an open-ended (not multiple-choice) format. More than eight-in-ten white evangelicals (85%), Mormons (85%) and black Protestants (83%) get this question right, as do roughly seven-in-ten atheists and agnostics (71%). By comparison, fewer than half of Catholics (42%), including 47% of white Catholics and 29% of Hispanic Catholics, are able to name Genesis as the first book of the Bible.

A slim majority of the public (55%) correctly says that the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is not one of the Ten Commandments. More than eight-in-ten Mormons (81%) answer this question correctly, as do roughly two-thirds of white evangelicals (67%) and more than six-in-ten white Catholics (63%), atheists/agnostics (62%) and Jews (62%). By contrast, less than half of white mainline Protestants and black Protestants (49% each) get this question right.

Of the three Old Testament figures asked about in the survey, Americans are most familiar with Moses. Overall, more than seven-in-ten Americans (72%) know he was the biblical figure who led the exodus out of Egypt; 92% of Mormons and about as many Jews and atheists/agnostics answer this question correctly. Eight-in-ten white evangelicals correctly identify Moses, as do roughly three-quarters of black Protestants (73%) and about two-thirds of white mainline Protestants (68%) and Catholics (65%).

Compared with Moses, Abraham is less well-known, with 60% of all Americans correctly identifying him as the biblical figure who was willing to sacrifice his son’s life for God. Fewer (39%) identify Job as the biblical figure known for remaining obedient to God despite extraordinary suffering.

St. Louis Archbishop Carlson claims to be uncertain if he knew sexual abuse was a crime

Oh, it’s ok guys, he didn’t know raping kids was a crime. What a relief.

http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/archbishop-robert-j-carlson-claims-he-was-unaware-sexual-abuse/article_4215ecea-3409-53b3-813b-545c81a1b793.htm

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson claimed to be uncertain that he knew sexual abuse of a child by a priest constituted a crime when he was auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, according to a deposition released Monday.

During the deposition taken last month, attorney Jeff Anderson asked Carlson whether he knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a child.

“I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,” Carlson replied. “I understand today it’s a crime.”

Anderson went on to ask Carlson whether he knew in 1984, when he was an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, that it was crime for a priest to engage in sex with a child.

“I’m not sure if I did or didn’t,” Carlson said.

Yet according to documents released Monday by the law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates in St. Paul, Carlson showed clear knowledge that sexual abuse was a crime when discussing incidents with church officials during his time in Minnesota.

In a 1984 document, for example, Carlson wrote to the then archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, John R. Roach, about one victim of sexual abuse and mentioned that the statute of limitations for filing a claim would not expire for more than two years. He also wrote that the parents of the victim were considering reporting the incident to the police.

In a statement, Gabe Jones, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said “while not being able to recall his knowledge of the law exactly as it was many decades ago, the archbishop did make clear that he knows child sex abuse is a crime today.”

“The question does not address the archbishop’s moral stance on the sin of pedophilia, which has been that it is a most egregious offense,” Jones said.

Anderson took Carlson’s deposition as part of a sexual abuse lawsuit in Minnesota involving the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona, Minn.

The plaintiff in the case, only identified as “Doe 1,” claims to have been abused in the 1970s by the Rev. Thomas Adamson at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Paul Park, Minn.

Later in the deposition, when asked about an incident of alleged sexual abuse of a minor by another priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Rev. Jerome Kern, Anderson asks Carlson:

“But you knew a priest touching the genitals of a kid to be a crime, did you not?,” referring to what a 1987 church memo said about the alleged incident.

“Yes,” Carlson replied.

Carlson went on to admit that he never personally reported any incidents of sex abuse to the police, though he encouraged parents to at least once.

Carlson also said that even in 1996 he did not know that pedophilia was a disorder that couldn’t be cured.

“I did not know that, but as a pastor, I was becoming increasingly concerned,” Carlson said.

With regard to the history of sexual abuse in the church, Carlson seemed to suggest he did the best he could at the time.

“I think in everything we do, once we’ve experienced it, we reflect on our actions and we ask what we can do better,” Carlson said. “I think we did a pretty good job.

“Obviously, based on some 25 years later, I would do it differently.”

Anderson then asked, “Don’t you think you should have done it differently then?”

“I did what I did,” Carlson replied.

“I think counselors made mistakes. I think people in general made mistakes. I think the archdiocese made mistakes,” Carlson went on to say.

“I think if you go back in history, I think the whole culture did not know what they were dealing with. I think therapists didn’t. I don’t think we fully understood. I don’t think public school administrators understood it. I don’t think we realized it was the serious problem it is.”

But over and over, throughout the deposition, Carlson claimed to not remember answers to questions posed by Anderson — for a total of 193 times.

Anderson asked Carlson if there was any physical condition or illness that was impeding his memory.

“I can’t make either a psychological or a physical diagnosis, other than to say I have had seven cancer surgeries. Each time, I received some kind of chemical to put me out for that. If that’s impeded my memory or not, I have no idea,” Carlson answered. “My concern is that what I say to you would be accurate.”

Anderson has also taken Carlson’s deposition for a priest sexual abuse case scheduled for trial July 7 in St. Louis. That deposition is under seal.

According to Anderson, Carlson was involved in handling sexual abuse cases in Minnesota for 15 years.

Failed biblical prophecies

Here’s a great list of Failed Biblical prophecies:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Failed_biblical_prophecies

Creationists claim that fulfilled prophecies prove the Bible’s inerrancy and therefore its accuracy on scientific subjects. For example, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania publication “Life–How did it get here? By evolution or by creation?” states, “With so many fulfilled prophecies already to its credit, the Bible has indeed established itself as the book ‘inspired of God.'”
However, any example of apparent prophecy fulfillment that is presented can be explained, such as by its creative interpretation or being written after the event. Thus, although it is possible to identify parallels between Bible verses and subsequently occurring events, alleged prophecy fulfillment is not sufficient to compel belief in the inerrancy of the Bible.

‘Why Christians and Muslims Can’t Get Along’

Why Christians and Muslims Can’t Get Along

What do I know?

Like most other American Christians, I can’t claim to know much about Islam. I took a two-month class on the religion in college, and learned a bit about it in high school, but other than that, I have had no immersion into the religion, and only see it through the lens of the war.

But let’s focus on what we do know. Muhammad was a normal and pious man, born around 570 C.E., married to an older woman, living his life when the angel Gabriel came to him and ordered him to recite. The Qur’an is the result of this recitation from illiterate Muhammad. The Qur’an is the living word of God, similar to how Christ is the living word to the Christian God. Muslims worship only God, Islam means “submission to God,” and Muhammad was a prophet, just as Abraham, Jesus, and all the Old Testament prophets were.

Out of the Qur’an comes the Five Pillars. They are 1) Confessing faith in one God, 2) Prayer five times a day, 3) Alms-giving, 4) Fasting at Ramadan, and 5) hajj, which is a pilgrimage to Mecca, a historically relevant city to the Muslim faith.

Sunnis follow Muhammad’s example. Shiites follow Muhammad’s example but also, long ago, chose to follow the example of Muhammad’s descendants, like Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law.

Jihad means “struggle.” It is not holy war, but it can be. It puts a name to the inner struggle each Muslim goes through to submit to God rather than follow their own ego.

Muslims believe that humans were created with fitra–a good framework everyone is born with, but that many people forget and get distracted from the true path. This negates the need for a Savior, unlike Christianity, which is a religion based on the saving blood of Christ. All one needs to do to be saved in the Islam faith is to follow the Five Pillars.

Treatment of Women

We look at Muslim women covered head to toe, living under strict rules and say the religion and culture is oppressing them. Muslims look at American women wearing next to nothing on TV and billboards, putting all their worth in their bodies, and say American culture and Christianity are objectifying and oppressing their women. Both sides argue that their women are better off.

These differences will always bother the modern, democratic West as well as the traditional, Islamic East. It overlaps into all the question both religions ask: do we move forward with our ideas and technology, or do we try to go back to the way things were in the Bible or in Muhammad’s time? No text or living example can tell us what to do about stem cell research. The ambiguity in both Christian and Islam doctrine create unanswerable questions and unnegotiable relations between nations.

But we look at the stories of Muslim men killing their sisters because they were raped, or seen with a man who wasn’t part of the family, and we Westerners cannot condone it due to cultural difference. How can two civilizations agree to disagree when innocent people die? It is difficult to know when to intervene with another nation.

Yet, many Muslim women feel hopeful that they will attain more freedoms as time goes by. Only a hundred years ago in the US, women weren’t allowed to vote. How can we rush other cultures to catch up to us?

Violence and Jihad

Another reason Christians and Muslims can’t get along is violence. The unforgettable attacks and counterattacks of the last decade have shown us that people will fight and die for their religion. Christians and Americans question Muslims: how is your religion peaceful when so much war and killing has happened since its beginning?

Muslims turn around and ask us the same thing. Christianity has a history of violence, too. The US has turned to violence to get what it has wanted.

But why did Islam extremists attack us? As Western thought and modernism spread, along with American culture, to almost every nation, Muslims cannot help but see these new ways of thinking and living as imposing on their religious tradition. When we try to make their religious governments into democracies, they don’t see it as a gift of freedom, they see it as an attack on their religion. When the World Trade Centers fell down and fingers were pointed to Al Qaeda, Christians too felt their religion was being attacked. Christians tend to tie up their religious conviction with patriotism, and freedom has become a synonym for the American way of life.

The majority on both sides want peace. But both sides are also called to spread their religion to all nations. Dedicated Muslims and Christians alike will fight for what they believe is right. This is the cause of the clash.

What Can We Do?

We have only dipped into this topic, and have already found material for endless debate. What can we do with this rising issue?

  • For now, the best thing to do is to learn as much as we can about Islam. We must stay updated on what is going on in Islamic countries and we must hush our assumptions and listen for awhile.
  • Understand and remember that there is fear on both sides. Western culture has become a force, a blind pillar of great evil to many other cultures in the world. Muslims also understand little about us. They fear us as much as we may fear them.
  • Find the beauty in Islam. Instead of looking for its faults, look at it for inspiration for your own faith. How do Muslims find happiness? Looking for the positive aspects, we will have more than enough to love about this other culture.
  • Talk about it with as many people as possible. Really listen to what other people are saying, and be respectful while still arguing your point. Communication is always the first step, and most of the time, we cannot even manage that. Let’s start the discussion.