Monday, April 23, 2007

Asleep at the Wheel, part 2: Religious literacy

Zenith has posted a rather alarming article concerning religious literacy. First of all , the study showed that throughout Europe, Christianity is the largest religious sect, however, less than half of the Christian population attend church services. Most of those who do attend are in the older generation of 60+.

Boston University professor Stephen Prothero ran a similar study in the United States which revealed a much larger church attendance than in any other western country, but we suffer badly in religious knowledge. Twenty million Bibles are sold in this country, but rarely opened. Basic facts such as the names of the Gospels, the Ten Commandments, the names of the apostles are lacking.
"Prothero warns that religious illiteracy is more dangerous than other forms
of ignorance, given religion's important role in culture and as a force in the
world. Whether we want to understand the past, or contemporary debates ranging
from bioethics to foreign policy, we need to have some knowledge of religion."

Where is the blame for this illiteracy? Academic circles tend to be non-religious and rather skeptical when it comes to religious issues, textbooks and classes tend to leave out religion.

"Churches too have played a part. Religious education in recent decades in
many of the Christian denominations has left a lot to be desired, favoring the
touchy-feely over imparting a solid knowledge of the Bible and doctrine. Parents
also come in for criticism from Prothero, for not instructing their children
sufficiently in religion."

"You need religious literacy in order to be an effective citizen," Dr. Prothero says. To be an effective citizen, you need to know your roots, where democracy came from, who originally wrote laws, who founded the first higher education institution.

This is serious, folks. We have children that need to know God and our Lord, Jesus Christ. They need to know exactly what faith is all about, what all the hubbub about Christ dying on the cross for us is all about. The Ten Commandments? This is silly that Christians don't know these, much less the names of the 4 Gospels! I have always said that religious education has been watered down severely during the past decade and the "touchy-feely" programs need to go!

Parents need to be knowledgeable about their faith, I know dozens of parents that are Catholic, but don't know why, and they are responsible for the next generation! Talk about the blind leading the blind! It's time that we started demanding that parents have continuing education, and parishes provide it. As parents, our main objective for our children is NOT that they have a great education, career, and a good salary. It is to get them to Heaven for eternity. I know that this is a novel idea to some, but it shouldn't be.


scmom said...

And did you know that even though European Christians outnumber other religious groups (now), Christians are having less than two children per family and other religious groups are having five or more per family. Christians won't be the majority for long.

Aldara said...

Wonderful post and so true. Lately I have been trying to read both the catechism and Bible so that I can become a better instructor to my boys about the faith. I need to start reading more Catholic literature to improve my own understanding of things. That is why I think it is so important to study the classics and other Catholic writings that helped shape our beliefs today.

Kelly Clark said...


Ebeth probably knows this already but just in case...a GREAT Catechectical resource is "The Apostolate's Family Catechism" by Father Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D...a 2 volume edition. You can probably get it used pretty cheaply. The ISBN number (just punch it into Google) is 0-932406-29-7.

Nice place you've got here, come back to my place and fix your blog address! :-)

Mary B said...

Just joined the blog roll and found you. Absolutely getting our kids to Heaven needs to be first. If we can find ways to help people believe Jesus is Truely present in the Eucharist then they will be there every week. That will reinvigorate our priest who can help them desire to learn more.

Ebeth said...

Mary, You're right! Priests are raised, not born. Then families will begin to nurture the call that is in all our children!

Christine said...

Amen! As a victim of post Vatican II "catechesis", I couldn't agree more. My mother, while devout, did nothing to impart her beliefs to me except drag to me church "because I say you have to go." I have learned more in the last couple of years from Marcus Grodi and Scott Hahan than I did all through my CCD years. Of course, presentation of the faith as a living breathing faith instead of as a bunch of dead folks helps. When I present my children with their reliogion, we talk about it. We talk about Jesus, and I have tught them that they can talk to Jesus anytime. I hope that knowing Jesus loves them will provide a good solid base as time goes by.

Leticia said...

I'm one of the lost generation too, Christine. My mother did give me a Baltimore Catechism as an Easter gift, but we never reviewed it. She taught my only three worthwhile years of CCD, she went out of her way to act out the parables, teach us how to look up passages in that silly "Good News Bible" we had, but the rest of my CCD years were worse than a waste of time. I had adults with guilty consciences 'deconstructing' my faith. They told me there were no angels in heaven, and they weren't 'comfortable with the idea of hell'.I'd have been better off staying home!
The problem is our parents hadn't yet lost faith in the Church to catechize. I sure have, I homeschool, but we have to scramble for the sacraments! Our kids know ten times what the CCD kids know, yet the DRE's say they can't receive the sacraments.