Speaking of Illiteracy….

The recent Duck Dynasty brouhaha has demonstrated once again that many Americans are totally clueless about what freedom of speech and religion are and aren’t. But apparently, a whole lot of Americans are equally ignorant of what’s really in that bible people keep thumping.  According to a recent article by one C.J. Werleman,

More than 95 percent of U.S. households own at least one copy of the Bible. So how much do Americans know of the book that one-third of the country believes to be literally true? Apparently, very little, according to data from the Barna Research group. Surveys show that 60 percent can’t name more than five of the Ten Commandments; 12 percent of adults think Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife; and nearly 50 percent of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple. A Gallup poll shows 50 percent of Americans can’t name the first book of the Bible, while roughly 82 percent believe “God helps those who help themselves” is a biblical verse. 

The article notes that when Congressional Republicans quoted 2 Thessalonians (“Anyone unwilling to work should not eat”) to justify cutting food stamps,  90% of Christian respondents to a poll attributed the quote to Jesus.  It was actually from a letter purportedly written by Paul to members of his church in Thessalonica, reminding them that if they didn’t help build the church, they wouldn’t be paid. (As it turns out, the letter wasn’t even from Paul; biblical scholars have dismissed it as a forgery.)

The actual texts of both the bible and the Constitution can be inconvenient, even for determined cherry-pickers. Add in historical and cultural context and….well, I guess it’s just too much work to actually read the damn things.


  1. This whole duck thing makes me laugh. We don’t have cable so don’t watch any of these so called reality shows so I had to read up on what it was all about. Apparently these guys aren’t ‘real’ hillbillies. They are nerdy types that quit shaving and grew their hair out to make some serious cash! There are photos on-line of these families before the beards and pony tails which shows that their show is FAKE, FAKE, FAKE! Just like Pro Wrestling.
    As for the bible…ha, I don’t believe a word of it considering it came from right wingers a century ago or so. Can you imagine what they were like back then considering what they’ve morphed into now?

  2. This Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty fiasco is a legal problem between Robertson and A&E. He does have the right as an American citizen to broadcast his views and his stupidity to milllions who watch that program. Personally; A&E used to broadcast quality program but the public prefers the “reality shows”…and believe their content to be factual. TV was referred to years ago as “a vast wasteland”; it didn’t lower programming to it’s current level till the past few years. I will admit that I am a fan of “Walking Dead”, having grown up on horror movies and TV programs. “Walking Dead” is as realistic as “Duck Dynasty”:)

  3. I am not at all surprised by the poll results you cite. I have taught art history to children for years, and of course, many famous paintings depict Bible stories. Years ago when I would ask about such pieces “Can anyone tell me the story the artist is illustrating?”, many hands would go up. Now just one or two. I thought this reflected a lessening of attendance at Sunday School classes, and thus a diminishing focus on religion in general, but maybe it’s just the type of education that’s changing. Just as many government classes don’t actually teach the Constitution, maybe many Sunday Schools no longer teach the Bible, just the doctrine of that particular Church, which is why we get such a skewed focus on things the actual Bible doesn’t emphasize.

  4. A few years ago I attended a service at an Evangelical (Bible thumping) Church. The songs and the Pastor spent all the time with emphasis on accepting Jesus as your Personal Savior to access Heaven. People were swooning and falling backwards when they were “healed” or needed an extra dose of spiritual vaccine. Since I am not a Church goer, I was surprised at the whole atmosphere in the Church. The Church had a huge screen TV Monitor, that flashed out messages and the lyrics to the music. It reminded me of Orwell’s book 1984 and movies that were based on it. (Hail Big Brother).

    When I left I had trouble understanding what was I was now supposed to do back in the World??? Do I accept the World as it is as long as accept Jesus as my personal savior and convince others to do so?? As a Left Wing Activist I would think the churches should be addressing the vast gulf between nations. Atlas Shrugs and factories in Bangladesh catch fire or collapse killing hundreds of workers who make clothing for our Big Box Stores. Should this be ignored?? Are there any debates in the churches on the numerous wars and drone strikes by the USA?

    Reality shows are IMHO staged for a target audience. I do find it disturbing that we have so called History Channels that claim via “experts” that find ancient aliens constructed the pyramids in Mexico or Egypt, or the statues on Easter Islands. The sophisticated superior aliens who traveled billions of miles to earth need crop circles, etc to direct them once in orbit around the earth. Then we have the big foot hunters, and ghost hunters regularly aired.

    Sad fact is in age where science is exploding with new knowledge, we have a determined and in some cases sizable number of people who choose to believe in myths.

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