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Are Americans Ignorant About Religion?

When Anne Strieber lived among fundamentalists, she was appalled at their ignorance about what's actually in the Bible. On this week's Dreamland, popular authors William Henry and Laurence Gardner have a lively discussion about the recent TV documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus. Whitley's response to the TV show is an incredible journal on this topic. Meanwhile, we seem to be in the middle of an ancient religious war. Are Americans incredibly ignorant about religion?

In USA TODAY, Cathy Lynn Grossman reports that 60% of people in the US can?t name 5 of the 10 Commandments and quotes author Stephen Prothero as saying, "More and more of our national and international questions are religiously inflected. If you think Sunni and Shia are the same because they're both Muslim, and you've been told Islam is about peace, you won't understand what's happening in Iraq. If you get into an argument about gay rights or capital punishment and someone claims to quote the Bible or the Quran, do you know it's so? "

The Bible Literacy Project, which promotes academic Bible study in public schools, surveyed 1,000 high schoolers and found that only 36% of them know that Ramadan is the Islamic holy month. 17% thought it was a Jewish holiday.

Grossman quotes Rev. Joan Campbell as saying, "We're impoverished by ignorance. You can't draw on the resources of faith if you only have an emotional understanding, not a sense of the texts and teachings."

Theologian John Shelby Spong has said, "Religions are like swimming pools, most of the noise comes from the shallow end."

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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