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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 28, 2010 / 20 Tishrei, 5771

Survey: Many Americans are religious illiterates

By Annysa Johnson






Troubling national study, to be released today, finds large percentage of populace knows little about faiths, including their own



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Did you know that most people in Indonesia are Muslim? That American public school teachers can read from the Bible as an example of literature? That only Protestants traditionally teach that salvation comes through faith alone?

Chances are you did not.

A new survey being released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that large numbers of Americans know little about the world's major religions, including their own.

It comes at a time when religion underlies some of the most contentious social and political issues of the day, from immigration reform and the construction of a mosque near ground zero to efforts to craft a lasting peace in the Middle East.

The U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, a first-of-its-kind attempt to gauge the nation's religious literacy, found wide gaps in Americans' understanding of the beliefs, practices, history and leading figures of the major faith traditions, according to the Pew Forum.

"It confirms the fact that the United States is a nation of religious illiterates," said Boston University professor Stephen Prothero, whose 2007 book "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know — And Doesn't" inspired the survey, and who served as an adviser on it.

Prothero and others say the findings raise troubling questions about Americans' understanding of their own history and culture; their ability to take part in the political process at home, and understand developments abroad.

"That's the more urgent; that's where illiteracy is dangerous," said Prothero.

"If people around the world were motivated purely by greed and power, economics would be enough to understand the world. But people all over the world are motivated by their religious convictions."

The Pew survey of more than 3,400 people asked 32 questions over seven topics: the Bible; elements of Christianity, Judaism and Mormonism; knowledge of world religions; atheism and agnosticism; and the role of religion in public life.

On average, respondents correctly answered half of the questions, according to Pew, with 10 percent getting 25 to 28 right, and 11 percent getting five to eight questions right.

Among the findings:


  • Atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons scored the highest, outperforming evangelical and mainline Protestants and Catholics on the survey.

  • Mormons and white evangelicals knew the most about Christianity and the Bible.

  • Jews, atheists and agnostics were most knowledgeable about world religions and the role of religion in public life, including what the U.S. Constitution says about religion.


As for their own faith traditions:


  • Nearly half of all Catholics surveyed did not know their church teaches that the bread and wine in Communion actually become the body and blood of Christ.

  • More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

  • And four in 10 Jews did not know that the medieval philosopher Maimonides was Jewish.

  • Fewer than a third of those surveyed knew the answers to the questions posed at the beginning of this story.


The Pew findings come as no surprise to religion educators, who say they see them play out in the classroom regularly.

"Just the other day, I asked my students, 'Who said: Man shall not live by bread alone and in what context?'" said Lakshmi Bharadwaj, associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

"And only one person — out of 36 or 38 students — could answer," he said.

Bharadwaj and Susan Wood, chairman of the Theology Department at Marquette University, say they've seen an erosion of religious knowledge among students over the last 30 to 40 years — brought on, they say, by the growing secularism of society.

"This is enormously important," even beyond the religious implications, said Wood.

"You can't understand Western civilization unless you understand religion," she said. "How can you understand your cultural heritage in terms of art? How do you understand literary allusions in novels? Even a non-religious person needs religious literacy to understand he artifacts of our civilizations."

In an effort to improve religious literacy, advocates have developed a set of guidelines and standards for teaching about religion in public schools, and there's been some progress. A number of school districts across the country offer elective courses on religion, said Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

"Still," he said, "teachers in many places are afraid to tackle religion. ... and teacher education programs do not prepare them to do so."

And even if they did, is improving religious literacy enough?

No, says, Mark Silk, director of the Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

"As a matter of general education, and in multicultural, pluralistic society, it's good to know something about other religions," Silk said.

"The bottom line is: If it's not accompanied by values, including the value of truth-telling and good judgment, and humanity, knowing some facts won't get you anywhere."


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© 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services