Religious Illiteracy

As a PS to my post yesterday on an appreciation of religious diversity, here are some profound words on religious illiteracy from a great article at the Toronto Star by Patricia Pearson:

All of the religious traditions are filled with characters and stories worth knowing. My children are familiar with Christmas, of course, because we celebrate it in our home. But I would love for them to know about the other holidays and their celebrations of human spirit, including Diwali, Eid, Hanukkah and Ramadan.

Unfortunately, though, the trend is toward further ignorance. According to the American professor of religious studies, Stephen Prothero, author of the 2007 bestseller, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know – And Doesn’t, 50 per cent of American high school students think Sodom and Gomorrah were married.

Sixty per cent of American students can name fewer than five of the 10 Commandments, says Prothero.

Is this a problem? Yes, it is. Children raised in such a pedagogical vacuum cannot make sense of a world in which religion governs public and international debate.

At a time of rising bigotry against Muslims, and ongoing prejudice against Jews, ignorance about religion is dangerous.

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