A COLUMN BY KEVIN LEININGER
What’s your religious IQ?
Results skew cultural knowledge over doctrine, but we still should try harder
Is the pope Catholic?
Even though most questions on a new survey of our religious knowledge weren’t quite that easy, the fact that the average American could answer only half correctly forces me to mix denominational metaphors and borrow a line I and all little Lutherans learn in catechism class:
What does this mean?
There was something for everyone in the results released this week by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life – everything from irony (atheists and agnostics scored the highest) to ethnic and cultural disadvantage for those inclined to think in such terms (black Protestants and Hispanic Catholics fared the worst). But did the results prove “Americans get an ‘F’ in religion,” as USA Today’s headline put it?
Not really, though local religious leaders were quick to express alarm. “This shows we need to do a better job of catechizing our members in the faith,” Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese said through spokesman Vince LaBarbera. And when 45 percent of Catholics tell pollsters they don’t know their church teaches that Christ’s body and blood are physically present during Holy Communion, he’s probably right.
Pastor Bill McGill of the Imani Baptist Temple likewise was right when he said some African-American churches spend too much time on sociology and too little time teaching theology. “You’ve got to know your faith before you can defend it,” he said.
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