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A Nation of Faith and Religious Illiterates
January 19, 2005 5:35 PM   Subscribe

A Nation of Faith and Religious Illiterates The sociologist Peter Berger once remarked that if India is the most religious country in the world and Sweden the least, then the United States is a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes. Not anymore. With a Jesus lover in the Oval Office and a faith-based party in control of both houses of Congress, the United States is undeniably a nation of believers ruled by the same.
posted by Postroad (30 comments total)

 
I thought it was a nation of non-believers ruled by believers.
posted by bingo at 5:48 PM on January 19, 2005


Religious illiterates exist on BOTH ends of the spectrum: among those who profess to believe and those who profess not to. Just FYI, in case you don't want to register and slog through the article.
posted by humannature at 5:53 PM on January 19, 2005


A nation of faith and religious illiterates... and geography illiterates, and history illiterates, and math illiterates, and just plain illiterate illiterates. If you were going to improve the American educational system, would religion really be the best first place to start?
posted by eatitlive at 5:58 PM on January 19, 2005


My impression has been that for the past four years the United States has been a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes with Indian masks on.
posted by anthill at 6:03 PM on January 19, 2005


A nation of faith and religious illiterates... and geography illiterates, and history illiterates, and math illiterates, and just plain illiterate illiterates. If you were going to improve the American educational system, would religion really be the best first place to start?

More alliteration, please.
posted by 327.ca at 6:04 PM on January 19, 2005


Art illiterates, philosophy illterates, anthropology illiterates, travel illiterates. Pick a subject. We suck.
posted by eatitlive at 6:08 PM on January 19, 2005


"Undeniably" is sort of a strong word, isn't it? I think a good 48% would disagree with you.
posted by scrim at 6:09 PM on January 19, 2005


What does "alliterate" mean?
posted by johnj at 6:11 PM on January 19, 2005


Also alliteration always, arguably, augments all analyses.
posted by scrim at 6:12 PM on January 19, 2005


Also alliteration always, arguably, augments all analyses.

Arguable.
posted by 327.ca at 6:14 PM on January 19, 2005


Also alliteration always, arguably, augments all analyses.

Arguable.


Forget it. Just me violating my 'do-not-post-while-drunk' rule yet again...
posted by 327.ca at 6:20 PM on January 19, 2005


Alliteration absolutely amplifies argumentation and accumulates accolades. Asshat.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:21 PM on January 19, 2005


I think that this is the same article without registration required. Comparative religion studies are all well and good but what does it have to do with this:

A few days after 9/11, a turbaned Indian American man was shot and killed in Arizona by a bigot who believed the man's dress marked him as a Muslim. But what killed Balbir Singh Sodhi (who was not a Muslim but a Sikh) was not so much bigotry as ignorance. The moral of his story is not just that we need more tolerance. It is that Americans - of both the religious and the secular variety - need to understand religion.

Is the writer saying he killed the wrong guy and that if he was better educated about religion he would have looked for a Muslim to kill instead?

posted by a_day_late at 6:30 PM on January 19, 2005


Religious illiterates? Wait are you suggesting people read their Bibles? Isn't that what Priests and the rest of the Clergy are for, or hell even Bush. They tell us what the Bible says and what the Bible means. After all, they are the moral authority...

Meanwhile in the sane world. I really wish our schools did do more to educate people about various religions. Oddly enough I learned more about other religions in my Church than was ever taught in school. Thankfully my Church leaders took becoming a member of the Church seriously and at least had us examine the two other mainstream alternatives as it were, of Judaism and Islam. Tho today I find a mix of Christianity and Daoism works best for me.
posted by MrBobaFett at 6:32 PM on January 19, 2005


Is the writer saying he killed the wrong guy and that if he was better educated about religion he would have looked for a Muslim to kill instead?

No, it's just one of those stories that make you go "Oh, the irony." Until you realize that there is no irony involved at all. Someone got shot by an ignorant asshole, that's tragedy, not irony.
posted by sour cream at 6:41 PM on January 19, 2005


I strongly believe Dubya doesn't give a fuck about Jesus.

It simply gets the votes.

By the way, the Texas accent is fake too.
posted by orange clock at 6:47 PM on January 19, 2005


(A)Metafilter: An abundance of arguable alliterations, asshat
posted by alteredcarbon at 7:00 PM on January 19, 2005


TNR: W. Doesn't Go to Church.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:02 PM on January 19, 2005


Jesus helps him trick people...
posted by SweetJesus at 7:04 PM on January 19, 2005


Just me violating my 'do-not-post-while-drunk' rule yet again...

Is there really a rule like that? If so, disregard all of my previous posts.
posted by Balisong at 7:15 PM on January 19, 2005


TNR: W. Doesn't Go to Church.

I like him better already. If only he had that good judgement on all matters.
posted by boaz at 7:17 PM on January 19, 2005


You mean 48% plus all the people whose votes weren't counted, or were consistently mysteriously changed in favor of the other candidate.
posted by fleener at 7:26 PM on January 19, 2005


That paints a picture of a nation that believes God speaks in Scripture but that can't be bothered to read what he has to say

That sums up so much that is horribly wrong with this country.

12% think Noah's wife was Joan of Arc...

That is just so, so wrong.
posted by gottabefunky at 7:52 PM on January 19, 2005


Is the writer saying he killed the wrong guy and that if he was better educated about religion he would have looked for a Muslim to kill instead?

Pretty much. But it's a better soundbite to talk about educating people about various flavors of madness than to teach them how to control their emotions and not resort to violence.
posted by rushmc at 8:07 PM on January 19, 2005


I think America is a "religious" nation only if you horribly abuse the word. Most Americans don't really give a rat's ass about the teachings of their chosen religion beyond "my family does it." A large swath of America believes that one must profess a faith in Jesus in order to be a good American. So they do. That they go to church every Sunday and manage to not pick up much doesn't surprise me, as too much of what passes for church in America is about the collection plate, not religion.

In short: Americans claim religiosity because they think they have to to be "good Americans." I can claim to be a Greek God -- the claim does not make it so.
posted by teece at 11:14 PM on January 19, 2005


America's only religion is the accumulation of wealth and power. We are all undeniably well-educated in our religion, even as it fails the lot of us.
posted by DuoJet at 1:01 AM on January 20, 2005


In 5,000-10,000 years, whatever form of archeologists there may be will look at the ruins of our enormous shopping centers, our big box stores, our imported designer furniture megawarehouses and they will call them our temples of worship, and the center of our cultural lives.

In hindsight, they won't be terribly far off the mark.
posted by loquacious at 2:52 AM on January 20, 2005


The Church of the Almighty Dollar, Incorporated.

Let me hear you say Jeeesssuussss!

Prosperity theology to the nth degree.
God loves me best. Just look at all I own.
posted by nofundy at 5:46 AM on January 20, 2005


Actually, I agree with the premise of the piece.

Regardless of how an individual views religion, there is no denying its importance in history, its influence on worldwide thought (and, unfortunately, lack thereof).

The problem, though, is where the rubber meets the road; in many conservative communities, including the place where I live, there is simply no way that a small-town school district could teach about religion without teaching religion; which is to say that any comparative religion class would be destined to devolve into "Here's what other religions are about but it doesn't matter because Christianity is the one truth faith" - perhaps even at the insistence of the local population/school board.

Bottom line, no way do wingers permit "comparative religion" - it might lead their children astray.
posted by kgasmart at 7:34 AM on January 20, 2005


Yeah, free thinking is funny that way.
posted by rushmc at 8:50 AM on January 20, 2005


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