A place for United Methodists and others to explore and share their ideas, resources, visions, and dreams of or about mission, ministry and worship in the emerging missional way... Hosted by Taylor Burton-Edwards, Director of Worship Resources, GBOD. http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Agnostics and Atheists Know More about Religion than Christians...
Yesterday, the Pew Forum on Religion in America released the results of its study of religious knowledge in the United States.
In essence, they findings in this study support what Alan Roxburgh notes in his book, Missional Mapmaking. Christians who actually attend our congregations are generally biblically and religiously illiterate, even on very basic questions such as "Which Bible figure is most closely with remaining obedient to God despite suffering?" (Only 34% of white, mainline Protestants in the survey could answer that one correctly-- and it was a multiple choice question!).
Slightly less than half (49%) of white, mainline Protestants could distinguish the golden rule from the Ten Commandments. That was 6 percentage points worse than the overall population, and only three percentage points higher than people who said they had no religious connections. Atheists and agnostics got that one right 62% of the time.
Maybe if we still taught the Ten Commandments, or used them in worship as part of a penitential order, those numbers might have been better?
And that wasn't the lowest score. There were two others lower than that-- one of them about Christianity, the other about Buddhism.
It also reaffirms the findings of Kenda Creasy Dean and the other researchers involved in the National Study of Youth and Religion in Almost Christian.
Neither youth nor adults are learning even the basic stories of our faith-- or much about those of other faith traditions.
In this study, the best overall scorers were Atheists, Agnostics and Jewish people.
The first two, I suppose, are clear about what they don't believe. Judaism-- at least in its closer to Orthodox forms, still has a powerful teaching tradition.
But mainline Christians? Not so much.
Evangelicals and Mormons-- somewhat better, but only about Christian faith.
So what does this all mean for us seeking to be missional Christians in a mainline and mostly white denomination?
We have a charge to keep.
Part of that charge is to teach the faith, in season and out of season.