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September 28th, 2010
12:01 AM ET

My Take: Why American public schools need religion courses

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Who knows more about religion - the arch-atheist Christopher Hitchens or Islam basher Rev. Franklin Graham?  Most likely the unbeliever, according to a U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

In this, the first major study of religious literacy among American adults, Americans as a whole flunked, answering correctly 16 of 32 questions about Christianity, the Bible and the world’s religions - for an embarrassing score of only 50 percent.

Atheists and agnostics, however, got 21 right, better than both Jews and Mormons, who rounded out the top three groups of scorers. Although this result (67 percent right, or a D by my calculations) was nothing to write home about, it was 5 correct questions above the national average.

If nonbelievers were the thoroughbreds in this race for religious knowledge, Roman Catholics, with fewer than 15 right answers on average, were the mules. In results that will surely prove to be a thorn in the side of Catholic educators, fewer than half (42 percent) of the Catholics surveyed were able to name Genesis as the first book in the Bible. Ouch!

Still, the big story here will likely be that those who think religion is a con know more about it than those who think it is God's gift to humanity.

As the author of the 2007 book "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know–and Doesn't" and as an adviser to this Pew study, I wasn’t surprised by these results. I do hope, however, that this dismal data will serve as a spur to action.

In "Religious Literacy," I described our collective religious ignorance as a civic problem of the first order. How to hold politicians who pin their public policies to the Bible without knowing something about that text?  And how to make sense of religious conflict in the Middle East without knowing something about Judaism, Christianity and Islam?

Believers and nonbelievers obviously disagree on the virtues and vices of religion. But all careful observers of the world should be able to agree on this: From time immemorial, and for better or for worse, human beings have been motivated to act politically, economically and militarily by their gods, scriptures and priests. Without making sense of those motivations, we cannot make sense of the world.

It is time to address our national epidemic of religious illiteracy. I have called in the past for mandatory public school courses on the Bible and the world's religions to remedy this problem. The time for such courses is now.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Bible • Catholic Church • Christianity • Culture & Science • Education • Islam • Judaism • Middle East • Opinion

soundoff (546 Responses)
  1. Wow?

    Anti religious people sound just as ignorant, and you create more ignorant people. Read and embrace teachings from all relgions if you choose, or stick to your own, or whatever suits you.
    Thats the beatiful thing about America, which both sides of the religous and political spectrum are forgeting.
    We still are a free country are we not?

    September 29, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
    • Muneef

      Well are you a free country? Free of what??

      September 30, 2010 at 1:25 am |
    • Muneef

      Tell you what, call it Logic Free Country.

      September 30, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  2. A Christian

    @Mark
    Ver well said, I agree with you!

    September 29, 2010 at 10:01 pm |
  3. A Christian

    David Johnson

    Give me some proof that your god is real. All you fundies go on and on about what god wants. You never offer any proof.

    So give me your best argument for there being a god.

    If you asked me to get to a town, and I said you have to cross a bridge, otherwise you can't get to the town...and you won't cross the bridge.. then I can't get you to the town. Do you get it?

    You need FAITH to know God....you need to ask him to come into your heart, and SHOW you his truths. Just do that much, and come and see me.

    That will be your proof, but you must really do it, not just come here and say you did. You need not prove anything to me or anyone else.
    Now, you asked for proof. There it is. If you don't try it, to find out, then don't hammer everyone that proclaims Christianity, under the pretense you want "proof".
    God is someone you have to come to know on your own, nobody can do that for you.

    One more thing. Please understand that the things that happened in the Old Testament changed when Jesus died on the cross for us. There was a new covenant between man and God.

    And all the wars and other stuff I see complained about, happened thru man, not God. I think its called "religion".

    Jesus was a peaceful man, and he never hurt anybody. He also hung around with people that others thought they were too good to hang with.

    Jesus is alive. I will never forsake him, no matter what.

    September 29, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Hmmm...Faith – belief in something without proof.

      So the bottom line is, if I don't have faith, if I don't suspend my critical thinking, you can't prove your god is real? Sounds like you can't prove your god is real. I am a freethinker.

      Do you realize members of every other faith have the same faith about their god as you do about yours? Can you prove your god is the one true god? There are over 1000 Christian denominations in the U.S. each can show you scripture that theirs is the one true faith. How do you know you have picked the right one? Are all the other people from all the other religions and denominations wrong?

      Everyone has the feeling in their heart, that their god is the true god. Why is your feeling different?

      The Old Testament god was a cold blooded murderer. Is he not the same god of the New Testament?

      Jesus said: “I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a
      daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own
      household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and
      whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not
      take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it,
      and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

      Matthew 13:42: "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

      Matt 25:41: "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." This passage relates to Jesus' judgment of all the world.

      Mark 9:43-48: And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched." The reference to fire is repeated three more times in the passage for emphasis.

      Luke 16:24: "And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." This is a plea described as coming from an inhabitant of Hell.

      How can you worship a god who would torture humans for all eternity?

      Your god is an evil god. Cheers!

      September 30, 2010 at 12:06 am |
    • Muneef

      @David Johnson. You know that there is some policy called the rod and the carrot which means who obeys your imposed policies upon him and accepts it he gets the carrot while the one who does not accept it gets with the rod until submission?

      Well same is offered by God, those did not obey end up to hell fire as explained if that frightened you but those who believed in him with out proof other than heart and mind would end up in peradise as explained. So take your chances and choices.

      September 30, 2010 at 1:20 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Muneef

      So, the carrot is eternal bliss in heaven. The rod, is everlasting torture in hell.

      How do you know either one exists? Have you ever died?

      You have read about them in a bible, that contains errors. If there are errors, then the bible cannot be the inspired word of a perfect god. If there is even one error, how can you trust any of what is written?

      Jesus hasn't been back for 2000 years. He predicted he would be back in the 1st century. Jesus hasn't come back, 'cause he is dead as a doornail.

      September 30, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  4. Mark from Middle River

    I gotta disagree a bit Iceman. That desire to control and devide exist not just with the right wing but with the left as well. The thing these past years have taught folks is that there is no shining knight party who has the whole of Americas desires. The left wants to villify everyone on the right and the right does the same. Obama, many feel is not trying to bring folks together but attempting to say what everyone wants to hear. 🙂

    September 29, 2010 at 9:52 pm |
  5. Iqbal khan

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOZSrPF5GNo&w=640&h=360]

    September 29, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
  6. Iqbal khan

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6i08ti9Me_M&w=640&h=360]

    September 29, 2010 at 9:14 pm |
  7. ICEMAN

    You know the one big thing about the alot christians is that This Man in office is trying to unite the people of faith and these crazy right "out of their minds" winged christians don't want him to do it. They love hate, and war, controll, MONEY, power and they feel Obama is trying to take that away from them and i hope he do, but that want happen. CHRISTIANS THINK ANOTHER CHRISTIAN CANT BE NICE TO ANOTHER RELIGION THAT'S WHY RELIGION IS SO HATED AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT THE RIGHT WING IS SPREADING HATE OPEN YOUR EYES......

    September 29, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Sing it preacher! Cheers!

      September 30, 2010 at 12:09 am |
  8. Iqbal khan

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmWvwiiXv18&w=640&h=360]

    September 29, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      OK, Iqbal khan, I couldn't resist – Moh must have some hold on me is trying to tell me somehting. Please help me get on the road to enlightenment.

      I went to the allahsquran and read a few passages. Perhaps you can explain the different translations of a couple of sections:

      001.007

      Muhsin Khan: The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace , not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).

      Yusuf Ali: The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.

      Pickthal: The path of those whom Thou hast favoured; Not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.

      Sahih International: The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.

      and

      002.025

      Muhsin Khan: And give glad tidings to those who believe and do righteous good deeds, that for them will be Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise). Every time they will be provided with a fruit therefrom, they will say: "This is what we were provided with before," and they will be given things in resemblance (i.e. in the same form but different in taste) and they shall have therein Azwajun Mutahharatun (purified mates or wives), (having no menses, stools, urine, etc.) and they will abide therein forever.

      Yusuf Ali: But give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness, that their portion is Gardens, beneath which rivers flow. Every time they are fed with fruits therefrom, they say: "Why, this is what we were fed with before," for they are given things in similitude; and they have therein companions pure (and holy); and they abide therein (for ever).

      Pickthal: And give glad tidings (O Muhammad) unto those who believe and do good works; that theirs are Gardens underneath which rivers flow; as often as they are regaled with food of the fruit thereof, they say: this is what was given us aforetime; and it is given to them in resemblance. There for them are pure companions; there for ever they abide.

      Sahih International: And give good tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will have gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow. Whenever they are provided with a provision of fruit therefrom, they will say, "This is what we were provided with before." And it is given to them in likeness. And they will have therein purified spouses, and they will abide therein eternally.

      If I was to try to understand islam, or become a convert, who should I believe: Muhsin Khan, Yusuf Ali, Pickthal, Sahih International, "mix 'n' match", or my own inteligence? Also, if islam is perfect, why are there multiple english translations?

      September 29, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
    • peace2all

      @HotAirAce

      S*** Ace... I was hoping that everyone would leave this idiot troll out of the picture.... But, i have to admit, I was getting ready to start posting at him as well.... So, can't blame yeah.... He has been posting video after video.... ad nauseum....

      Have fun with this one...!

      Peace...

      September 29, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
    • Muneef

      @HotAirAce. Very wise to ask this question which I have tried to explain it before in some blogs, you see that was the same mistake that got the bible lost when was translated from Jesus language there and then think called Arami or some thing any way translated to Greek and then from Greek to English?.
      Here history repeats it self the Quran is in Arabic language and then became international religion which meant If they would not learn Arabic the Quran has to be translated to various languages and God knows if the mistake was here by giving different meanings? Any way find a translation of the Quran made and certified in Saudi Arabia , Mecca print, think this will be as much closer as to Arabic one. And may God guide you to the truth of things.

      September 30, 2010 at 12:56 am |
    • Real_Deal

      If the Bible and the Quran were written by "God" or "Allah" (or an angel), and were perfect truth, there would be no mistranslation or misinterpretation possible. It would be crystal clear to everyone. The words in these books were imagined and written by men - not any deity.

      September 30, 2010 at 1:29 am |
    • deepak

      [vimeo 15646170 w=500 h=331]

      WATCH THIS DEBATE ON HOW ISLAM IS NOT A RELIGION OF PEACE....IT IS DANGEROUS.

      October 19, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  9. Just another Atheist

    David Johnson

    I don't care if you keep your god in your house, your church, your church camps etc. ad infinitum.

    If believers were willing to do that, I would not say a word. But, they are not content to do that. They must proselytize. They must force their ideas on all of society.

    The Christian Right is attempting to convince the American public, the founding fathers never intended for there to be a separation of church and state. They want to set up a theocracy, with Jesus as the head of state. No one, but the Christian Right, will be able to hear the voice of Jesus. The Christian Right will tell the rest of us, god's will.

    Think about it David Johnson, 2.1 Billion people are Christians...thats alot of the worlds population..thats 33%! Anytime you have an upheaval in society, majority being Christians, what do you expect? Mayby if things had been left alone, this would not be happening.
    How do you think we feel, as Christians? We have had prayer taken out of school (and no one was "forced" to say it)
    we have had all our Christian symbols removed from public places, and Christmas has now been called "Winter Holiday" etc. Thats because the right wing liberals have pushed thier agenda down the throats of the American public, and they are sick of it. Mike Pence of Indiana said:
    "Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life, marriage and religious liberty have forgotten the lessons of history," Pence said in his address at the gathering Friday. "America's darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles."

    How verbal are Atheist on Christianity? While not all of you attack, there are some,like yourself, who seem to get some sick joy out of cursing Christians and the one they believe in. I have seen that happen and when nothing more was said by a person then, I am a Christian.
    Why can't eveerbody just respect one another and live and let live?

    @DavidJohnson

    September 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Give me some proof that your god is real. All you fundies go on and on about what god wants. You never offer any proof.

      So give me your best argument for there being a god.

      September 29, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
    • ICEMAN

      @JUST ANOTHER ATHEIST .....DO YOU KNOW WHERE CHRISTMAS CAME FROM? ROME, you know it was Winter Solstice celebrations. You think that Rome picked Dec 25, as some random choice for Jesus birth? No many Gods birthday was on that day.....Yea You know what WE DO NEED RELIGION CLASSED TO SHOW HOW CORRUPT RELIGION IS, AND HOW FLAWED ALOT OF STUFF IS. do you even knew how They acked during this celebration? trust me you don't want to know.

      September 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Mike Pence: Just an-other bi-ble th-umping right wi-nger trying to fe-nd off the tea ba-ggers so that he gets to keep his seat on the gr-avy tr-ain.

      September 29, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Mike Pence: Just an-other bi-ble th-umping right wi-nger trying to fe-nd off the tea ba-ggers so that he gets to keep his seat on the gr-avy tr-ain. As in, he's raising religion (moral priniciples) to separate himself from the tea ba-ggers (economic arguments), who unfortunately have huge political mo-men-tum, mostly on the right wing, and are trying to separate themselves from the 'thumpers, but are doomed 'cause most of the right wingers open to the tea ba-gger's platform come with a bible, new found in some cases, such as the id-iot known as Gl-en Be-ck, but maybe not so new for that other id-iot from Alaska...

      September 29, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      With apologies – something in the first sentence above triggers moderation...

      September 29, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Sorry – the above was meant to be a reply to peace2al about the videos posted by Iqbal khan.

      September 30, 2010 at 3:59 am |
  10. Just another Atheist

    David Johnson

    I don't care if you keep your god in your house, your church, your church camps etc. ad infinitum.

    If believers were willing to do that, I would not say a word. But, they are not content to do that. They must proselytize. They must force their ideas on all of society.

    The Christian Right is attempting to convince the American public, the founding fathers never intended for there to be a separation of church and state. They want to set up a theocracy, with Jesus as the head of state. No one, but the Christian Right, will be able to hear the voice of Jesus. The Christian Right will tell the rest of us, god's will.

    I don't want Jesus to be the head of state. I want Obama to be the president, not a puppet set up by the Christian Right.

    Looks like you got your wish...read KM's post.
    What do you have to say now?

    September 29, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  11. Iqbal khan

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlGQxen6sN0&w=640&h=360]

    September 29, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  12. Wendilynn

    Unfortunately this is a byproduct of mainstream Christianity saying that all you have to do is believe, then there is no knowledge required of them. There is no personal responsibility being taught either. I have an Aunt who is told by her preacher that scripture study is not something she needs to be doing. Which boggles my mind. This reminds me of the dark ages when people were actually forbidden from reading the bible and gross abuses were taken until the invention of the printing press when people could start reading the bible for themselves after it was mass produced.

    It bothers me to watch religion get abused for political power, and the average person doesn't know better because they aren't encouraged to know better. It doesn't surprise me that they didn't know anything. Not with the current "just believe" policy that so many christian churches espouse. And of course your average atheist or agnostic is going to know more. Many people have to know one way or the other. We're going to study it out. Now while I did find my faith through my study, many don't and they become agnostic or atheist. Not really a surprise there.

    September 29, 2010 at 11:57 am |
    • peace2all

      @Wendilynn

      I again re-state, as I have done up and down this particular article..... Comprehensive courses on the 'effects' of all world religions should be taught. Religion, and the actions that spring from the 'believer's' have an extreme impact on our world today.... economically, socially, multi-culturally, etc..etc...

      Education(in this context) = good ...... Ignorance=bad...

      Peace...

      September 29, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  13. JUst another Atheist

    HotAirAce

    Please take a chill pill...

    It is *wrong* to make anyone pray to some god. It is *wrong* to pay public school teachers to lead prayers. It is *wrong* to set up a system were one child gets ostracized because their beliefs (probably actually their parents and the child's only because of birth) are different.

    Time for right wingnuts to start respecting the law and people.

    Thats BS! Nobody had a problem with it, They were opening exercises. Besides, no one was ostracized...it wasn't even an issue. Kids said it, or they didn't, some didn't even know the words to the "prayer" , others were busy pickin thier nose, or gazing out the window.
    I know one thing, for a bunch of fearless people that don't believe in God, they sure are as h*ll are deadset on taking anything out of every day life thats got to do with Jesus,or anything Christian for that matter. Statues in court houses, etc. Oh yea, a hunk of stone, might hurt ya huh?
    I personally don't have a problem with stuff from anybodys religion being in a public place. When rights start getting restricted, this is what happens to society, A Mess. Everytbody wants thier "I am offended" right taken care of.

    Nobody is ever gonna stop Christians from teaching thier children as Christians. Thats thier right to do, just as you may teach yours about "nothing".
    Stop criticizing the rest of us, who don't do as you do.
    If your comfortable with a Godless household, go for it. But don't infringe on my rights to have one.

    September 29, 2010 at 8:55 am |
    • brad

      JUst another Atheist,
      I am a Catholic myself. But congratulations to you for being the rare atheist who hasn't allowed his emotions to neutralize his reason.

      September 29, 2010 at 9:13 am |
    • David Johnson

      I don't care if you keep your god in your house, your church, your church camps etc. ad infinitum.

      If believers were willing to do that, I would not say a word. But, they are not content to do that. They must proselytize. They must force their ideas on all of society.

      The Christian Right is attempting to convince the American public, the founding fathers never intended for there to be a separation of church and state. They want to set up a theocracy, with Jesus as the head of state. No one, but the Christian Right, will be able to hear the voice of Jesus. The Christian Right will tell the rest of us, god's will.

      I don't want Jesus to be the head of state. I want Obama to be the president, not a puppet set up by the Christian Right.

      September 29, 2010 at 9:18 am |
    • KM

      David,

      Was reading your response,” I don't want Jesus to be the head of state. I want Obama to be the president, not a puppet set up by the Christian Right.”

      as the bible tells us “ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.

      Just want to say you might be a little more specific in what you ask for…

      "I am a Christian by choice," Obama began, standing beneath a blazing sun, when asked why he is a Christian.
      "I came to my Christian faith later in life, and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead," Obama said. "Being my brothers' and sisters' keeper. Treating others as they would treat me. And I think also understanding that, you know, that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility that we all have to have as human beings."
      Humans are "sinful" and "flawed" beings that make mistakes and "achieve salvation through the grace of God," the president continued, adding that we also can "see God in other people and do our best to help them find their, you know, their own grace."
      "So that's what I strive to do," Obama said. "That's what I pray to do everyday. I think my public service is part of that effort to express my Christian faith."

      September 29, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @JUst another Atheist, when you stop foaming at the mouth, you might realize your logic about prayer in school and other changes is wrong. If nobody had a problem with it, then little children would still be subjected to it.

      Unfortunately you are correct about not being able to stop christians (or any other tribe) teaching same cr-ap to their children – I can only hope that they will wake up, but must recognize it is their right.

      Here's the bottom line on religion in public: Today's laws say there is a limit and you and other throwbacks want to remove/reduce limitations. All you have to do is get the law changed – you might even need a const-itutional amendment. I will support your right to propose such an amendment as vigourously as I will work to defeat it. I am 100% certain that no matter how many tribal chieftains (charlatans) you assemble, you will never get political support, for the simple reason that any attempt to inst-itutionalize religion will result in a backlash that will do more harm than good to the politicians and to your cause.

      @Brad, you're being sarcastic, right? Or do you have a magic decoder ring that let's you determine JUst another Atheist is an aetheist?

      September 29, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
    • peace2all

      @JUst another Atheist

      Yep... gotta go with David and HotAirAce on this.... Nothing more to be said.

      Peace...

      September 29, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @KM

      I think Obama is perhaps the bestest president ever. In this country, no one has ever been elected who does not claim to be Christian. ~83% of the population claim to be Christian.

      Obama is not claiming to channel god. He is most acceptable to me as my president.

      September 29, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
  14. ICEMAN

    Why public schools need religion courses, I'm hoping that our schools teach black history, "Not black slave history." We were over in the americas 1000yrs before Columbus teaching, and our "black youth" don't even know it. If we are going to teach Religion THEN TEACH ALL THE EVIL IT HAS BROUGHT ON THE WORLD AS WELL. Every story has 2 sides,Religion is a blessing for one was a nightmare for another. But My people were powerful and it is a shame they don't know that.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:39 am |
    • David Johnson

      I agree ICEMAN. Do you know my racist state has outlawed the teaching of ethnic histories? We need to get rid of our Republican government.

      Any rate, you make a good point. Cheers!

      September 29, 2010 at 8:24 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I agree Iceman, I am tired of black history being slave history.

      September 29, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  15. Mark from Middle River

    But is that not a jump to say that the teacher would automatically be a zealot. I have taken classes in psychology and every now and then I come across a professor that is clearly pushing his own agenda or views. The truth is that most do not. Take subjects such as gay marriage or politics. One way or another yo will end up with some kid going home at the end of the day and telling his or her parents what they learned and you will have a upset parent at the school the next day. These things can not be helped.

    I just put forth, as a person of faith, that there are just too many views. Sorta like when I was younger and teachers felt that they had to teach about kwanza because they felt all African Americans did. The world is becoming vastly diverse and even if you take atheist child's education out of the equations you can run into so many complex issues just within the faiths.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:25 am |
  16. PsiCop

    The problem is that, even if these classes were not used to proselytize, that is PRECISELY what would happen in some of them. I can only assume Prothero is smart enough to be aware of this. Thus, I cannot imagine he would put forward this notion without knowing that it would be used by some believers to foist their religion on some children.

    The question here is not whether or not it's "possible" to teach religion to children in a secular manner. Of course it CAN be done. The question is, rather, whether it WILL be done in EVERY school system. The answer to that, of course, is a resounding "no," because quite honestly there are too many believers who, when presented this opportunity, simply will not be able to resist temptation.

    Why, then, I must ask, would Prothero knowingly hand religious zealots the keys to unlock the minds of children and then re-lock them with the tether of religiosity? None of the possible answers to that question are good ones.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
  17. Mark from Middle River

    Question this, if the rest of the the world is teaching to the "test", for example the SATs, then why do we not do the same? Drop everything in school except for science, mathematics and language. I love Martin Luther King and General Lee but neither is on the SATs that students here in the states will be competing with kids from other countries.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
  18. Tell_Me

    Students can be taught something about world religions in History or Social Studies courses - I don't see how your can get away without doing that, since religion is/has been so pervasive in society. We don't neglect teaching them about Attila the Hun or that "H" guy in WWII Germany just because they were icky.

    A short chapter on each of the main ones is sufficient, and of course a mention of others as is appropriate to the subject (eg. Greek/Roman/Norse etc. gods as they relate to literature) - no need to delve too deeply into the intricacies of each belief. This plan through high school... then in college a more detailed study of religions of the world as a Humanities elective.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  19. jackie

    @chuckmartel
    Thank God you're not running things. You're a tyranical zealot. And a big, fat bully with your insults.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
    • chuckmartel

      Jackie,I have my waist size at 36 these days. While there is room for improvement, that does not make me fat. I am also tall. So there..

      September 28, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
  20. Iqbal khan

    Its never too late, with all due respect I ask Honerable president Obama to do what he promised before the election to end the Unjust Bush's Wars and save us all.
    Thanks

    September 28, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
    • Muneef

      @Iqbal khan. Sorry friend but that sura the cave 18:94 Yagog and Magog are they hunan's ? Must be right?
      Well in this case those terrorists maybe them but who is Zee Alqarnin now? At least we know that agog and maggot will not come to us in UFO's.

      September 28, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.