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Summary and Response to A Nation of Religious Illiterates
Most Americans do not know much about religion. A study conducted among the Roman Catholics in America revealed that 45 percent of the Catholics did not know that bread and wine from the Holy Communion represented the body and blood of Christ. In addition, most of the Protestants did not know that Martin Luther was among the first people who advocated for the formation of the Protestant movement. Churches in America are disunited since they teach different views to their congregation. Some churches support gay marriages while other religious groups feel that it is an immoral act condemned by God. In addition, some churches support war on terror while other churches feel that killing people is a sin condemned by God. If Americans were competent in the sphere of religion, they would know what stands for taking on contemporary issues of the society. Churches and education system of America should promote religious education in order to help Americans apply the values taught by God while solving challenges in the society.
The title of the reading is A Nation of Religious Illiterates written by Stephen Prothero. Prothero argues that although Americans claim to be more religious that the Europeans, they do not know many things about religion (Prothero, 2005). Most Americans believe that their country is religious. The President of America was born as a Christian and remains to be religious. In addition, the dollar has the words in God we trust proving that Americans believe that God is responsible for the stability of their economy. The paradox is most citizens know very few things about the testaments given by God through the Bible. Research conducted in Europe and America revealed that the Irish and Norwegians knew about the five pillars of Islam. However, polls conducted in 1997 revealed that 1 out of 3 citizens could name the four Gospels in the Bible (Prothero, 2005). It proves that there is something wrong with the American education system. It is only through the values taught in the Bible that Americans can learn how to live morally. It would be hard for Americans to know the promises that Jesus gave to his people if they do not know the names of the four Gospels.
In the past, people could cite the Bible to refer to contemporary issues in the society. During slavery, people could refer to the Old Testament scriptures on how children of God suffered in Egypt. Slaves in America had hope that they would be freed just as the year of Jubilee is described in Leviticus. However, it is hard for Americans to quote the scripture while making arguments on abortion, stem cell research and abortion (Prothero, 2005). Churches in America have different views on abortion and this has caused weakness in Christianity. If Americans were literate, they would look for answers from the Bible. In addition, people also have different views on Islam. After 9/11, Bush tried to bring mutual understanding between Americans and Islam by stating that Islam was a religion of peace but Evangelist Franklin Graham does not believe this (Prothero, 2005). Should Americans trust a man of God or Bush? The rift between Americans and Muslims was also evident when an innocent American dressed as a Muslim was shot a few days after 9/11 occurred. If Americans knew about the teachings given by God in the Bible, they would not view Muslims as their enemies.
Several things could be blamed for American’s illiteracy on religion. Some people blame the Churches for failing to deliver God’s message to Americans. This is true as most modern churches focus on their commercial activities instead of teaching the word of God to the congregation. In addition, churches have concentrated on the political environment in America forgetting about the spiritual growth of the servants of God. Other people blame elementary schools and secondary schools for the illiteracy of Americans on religions (Prothero, 2005). Schools are the social institutions given the responsibility for educating the public. They have thus failed by not educating Americans on the concepts of religion. People blame the First Amendment of the American constitution for the lack of religious education in public schools (Prothero, 2005). Schools that teach religion do it poorly because teachers trained to teach religious education are few. In addition, the textbooks covering religious education are also few and make it hard for students to access literature talking about religion. This proves that American education system does not value religion.
Most schools care about teaching economic concepts, as they believe that America will become a superpower if it has a stable economy. Moreover, schools have also emphasized on the importance of learning innovation in technology. They believe prosperity of America will be driven by advancements in technology in the digital world. They constantly forget that the morals of American depend on their ability to observe the Ten Commandments given by God.
To conclude, churches and education system of America should promote religious education in order to help Americans deal with issues affecting them. The article written by Stephen Prothero reveals that most Americans do not know much about religion. Due to this, they cannot refer to the scripture to prove whether God condemns abortion and stem cell research. Churches are to blame since they have failed to teach their congregation on the values taught by God. In addition, education system of America is also to blame since most students are not taught about religion while they are in school. If people knew the teachings given by the Bible, they would know whether to support war on terror or abortion.
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