Thursday, September 30, 2010

Americans Don't Know Much About Religion

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Atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons scored among the highest on a new survey of religious knowledge in America.

On average, Americans correctly answered 16 of 32 religious knowledge questions on a newly released survey by
Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Atheists and agnostics answered an average of 20.9 of 32 questions correctly. Jews and Mormons, 20.5 and 20.3 respectively. Protestants as a whole correctly answered 16 of 32, with Catholics as a whole correctly answering 14.7 of 32 questions.

The survey covered a broad range of questions, more academic than moral. On questions about Christianity and the Bible, Mormons averaged 7.9 correct out of 12 questions, while white evangelical Protestants got 7.3 out of 12 correct.

The study found, among other things, that Americans don't understand constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools.

A majority---89%, knew that public school teachers cannot lead a class in prayer, but only 23% knew that the Supreme Court has stated that teachers can read from the Bible as an example of literature.

The Pew Researchers wrote that, "Many Americans think the constitutional restrictions on religion are tighter than they really are."

This survey was released at the "God In America National Symposium On Religious Literacy" in Washington DC this past Tuesday.

PBS has funded a new three-part documentary titled, "
God In America," that will be airing in most cities around the country.

They say the series interweaves documentary footage, historical dramatization and interviews to explore the historical role of religion in the US, including its impact on society, politics and culture.

Honestly, I'm not terribly optimistic about the outcome of such a project done under the influence of PBS. I would recommend
David Barton's materials.

Whatever this survey may or may not reflect and whatever the PBS special may communicate to the public, one thing is certain. Absolutely certain.

The direct responsibility of educating children on Judeo-Christian moral principles and values is given by God, to parents---not to public education, the media or their peers---not even primarily to the church.

While many kids attend church and Sunday school from broken and dysfunctional homes and this indeed is their only spiritual lifeline---thank God, the biblical model is that the ministry of the church be directed to teach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and strengthen the parents so they may properly teach their children God's truths, with the various church ministries affirming the teaching.

Our culture has led us to believe or at least accept, that most of our kid's education will happen among peers and the public school classroom.

Television and the entertainment industry encourages kids to find security, acceptance and understanding outside the home, often attacking the traditional, biblical model of home and family.

Scripture is clear how children are to be morally and spiritually educated. Judeo-Christian values are to be taught in the home---all the time.

Here's a good example of how it should work.

"These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Deuteronomy 6: 6-7.

This directly tells us who should teach, what should be taught and when it should be taught.

While there may be a literacy problem with Americans knowledge of religion, I pray we will not neglect teaching our children the Judeo-Christian principles and values that will bring purpose, blessing and understanding to them throughout their lives. And ultimately eternal life through their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Be Wise. Be Diligent. Be Blessed.

Gary Randall
Faith and Freedom

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