Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know – And Doesn’t

  • Type: Audiobooks
  • By: Stephen Prothero
  • Age Category: Adults
  • Genre: Non-Fiction
  • Recommended by: Eric S.
  • ISBN/UPC: 9780061262579
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Studying religion as a civic duty?

This book begins with a perplexing paradox. The United States is one of the most pious, religiously observant nations in the western world. Yet in contrast to its more secular European counterparts, most Americans known very little about the doctrine and theology of the religious traditions that they practice. According to Prothero religion has played a significant role in human history and, despite speculation to the contrary, will remain a very powerful cultural force for the foreseeable future. For example, a basic knowledge of religion is crucial in academic disciplines such as history, literature and art. Most importantly, religion has been a factor in foreign policy, international diplomacy and national debates among politicians on issues such as abortion, assisted suicide, and capital punishment. Therefore, Prothero argues that, regardless of religious belief or lack thereof, in order to effectively engage in our democracy as an informed citizen, Americans need to have a basic understanding of Christianity and the tenets of the world’s major religions. The author does a good job of chronicling the rise and fall of religious literacy over the course of our nation’s history. For those who are wary of this topic, because of the principle of separation of church and state, he outlines what is constitutional in terms of studying religion in K-12 and higher education. Also, the final chapter is a very lengthy dictionary of terms which will be helpful for readers who want to increase their own religious literacy.