In the days of headlines that are meant to shock and outrage people, I shook my head and sighed heavily when I read the headline "Christian's Don't Know Much About Religion." I just wanted to head the other direction and ignore the headline.
But today I took some time to do a little digging around on this survey and I was surprised. The way the headline's read, I thought that meant that the whole survey was on Christianity and that Christian's didn't know the basic principles of their own faith. That's not what the survey is completely about, though. Yes, there are questions on there that Christians should know, absolutely. But the word religion, used in this context, isn't just Christianity. The survey asked questions about Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Mormonism as well...it also asked who the Vice President of the U.S. was and 41 out of 100 people didn't know the answer but that didn't get highlighted in the news reports...sigh.
As I read the survey and the results it struck me that unless we are specifically interested in learning more about the faith beliefs of others, we would be ignorant of the answers to some of the questions. I only know the name of the Hindu Deity's or when Mormonism was founded because I've done a study on religions with the youth group. I'll admit, sometimes I'm just not curious enough to ask the questions about other religions. When I do ask questions, though, the more I understand what compels people to believe one thing or another.
One of the other big parts of this headline was that atheists and agnostics know more about religion than Christians. Of course agnostic and atheists would know more than the average Christian. In order to not believe in something, it makes sense that some research has been done to figure out why others believe. As Christians many times we aren't willing to look at other religions and figure out what they are about. It's not even tolerance that I'm talking about, it's simply being curious about why other's believe what they believe.
So the headline's are partly right. But the issue isn't as cut and dried as the headlines make it. Now, I'm going to look up who Maimondes is so that I get that answer right!