Religious Literacy : What Every American Needs Essay

Religious Literacy : What Every American Needs Essay

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In Stephen Prothero’s, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn’t (New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2007), 297 we discover the average American’s lack of religious knowledge. Prothero discusses religious illiteracy in three ways. How it exists, came to be, and just how to possibly solve this problem. Today religious illiteracy is at least as pervasive as cultural illiteracy, and certainly more dangerous. Religious illiteracy is more dangerous because religion is the most volatile constituent of culture, because religion has been, in addition to one of the greatest forces for good in world history, one of the greatest forces for evil. Religion has always been a major factor in US politics and international affairs. Today far too many thinkers, on both the left and the right, cling to the illusion that we live in a “post-Christian” country and a secular world. But evidence of the public power of religion is overwhelming, particularly in the United States. If religion is this important, we ought to know something about it, particularly in a democracy, in which political power is vested in voters. But the average voter knows embarrassingly little about Christianity and other religions. How did this happen? And what can we do about it? In order to answer these questions, we need to understand how one of the most religious countries in the world slipped into religious amnesia. After making a historical diagnosis of religious illiteracy, this book goes on to prescribe a remedy. Given a problem like ignorance, the solution is obviously going to be knowledge. But what kind of knowledge do we need? And what sort of education will deliver it? Before answering these questions, we must define more precisely what ...


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...an interest, this is still a good book to read. The book demonstrates the importance of religious literacy and gives basic knowledge that all Americans need to know. I think the author was successful in writing this. Prothero kept the point right on target and successfully established the problem and a possible solution. I feel that if Prothero had a bias in one area, it was religion. I got the feeling that he focused more heavily on Christianity. I would say this was handled well though and seemed not to exceedingly get in the way. Prothero supported his thesis with much evidence. He shared many facts and statistics. My favorite thing about this book is how it opens your eyes to a much broader knowledge of religion. America is still actually a religious nation even though our knowledge and understanding seems limited. No matter your interests, this is a worthy read.

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