"I consider myself a spiritual person"
Does it matter that many don’t understand their own religion?
A recent Pew poll reveals that Americans have a serious lack of knowledge regarding religion. Knowledge of Buddhism could be categorized with the location of Iraq on a map as knowledge that would be nice for the public to have; what seems disturbing is that many don’t understand quite basic tenants of their own religions.
Most shocking to me: “Forty-five percent of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in holy communion are not merely symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Christ.” My memory of Catholic school was that this is an incredibly central tenet of Catholicism, at the very core of the religion, and one of the key theological beliefs distinguishing Catholicism from much of Protestantism.
Should we care?
The actual theological content of religion seems, to this agnostic, really besides the point. What can a religion do for you? I’m not sure specific beliefs really change religion’s ability to order and comfort
or its ability to viagra canadian pharmacy sort people into comfortable membership-only societies.
If anything, one might hope that the dissolution of religious knowledge could lead to some increased measure of toleration. It’s always baffled me what Catholics and Protestants thought they were fighting for (though they were generally fighting for land and political prestige); now people really won’t be able to explain it!
Studies like this, when published in the New York Times, may serve to give atheists a smug grin as they knowingly reflect on the absurdity of organized religion. I’m not sure they do much else. Religion has rarely been about actual theological content, except for the elite.
Image credit Stuck in Customs.