CARS HOMES JOBS

Guess who knows most about religion

Thursday, September 30, 2010
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Well, this is quite the little embarrassment: According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, the people who know most about religion are — hold onto your seats — atheists and agnostics!

It’s true. The pollsters asked 32 questions dealing with “religious knowledge,” and non-believers scored the highest, with an average of 20.9 correct answers.

Jews were a close second, with 20.5, and Mormons a close third, with 20.3.

Hispanic Catholics were last, with 11.6.

Evangelical Protestants knew the most about the Bible and Christianity — let’s give them credit for that — but they weren’t exactly scholars even in that department. A majority of Protestants (53 percent) didn’t know that Protestantism was launched by Martin Luther.

Forty-three percent of Jews, as high-scoring as that group was, didn’t know that Maimonides was Jewish — Maimonides being the pre-eminent Jewish theologian of the Middle Ages, roughly equivalent to Thomas Aquinas on the Catholic side.

Forty-five percent of Catholics didn’t know that in the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood of Christ are supposed to be actually, not just symbolically, present. (It’s called transsubstantiaton.)

They go to Mass every Sunday and solemnly take the wafer and the wine, not knowing what it’s all about! It makes me hold my very sides for laughter.

Transsubstantiation, Martin Luther, Maimonides — scoffers know these subjects better than believers, a lot of whom, I guess, just robotically go through the motions without ever wondering what they’re doing, all the while congratulating themselves for their “faith.”

As for knowledge of other religions, only 47 percent of people questioned knew that the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist; only 37 percent were able to associate Vishnu and Shiva with Hinduism; only 27 percent knew that most Indonesians are Muslims (though Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world); only 62 percent knew that most Indians are Hindus; only 52 percent knew that Ramadan is the Islamic holy month; only 54 percent knew that the Quran is the Muslim holy book.

Not that this wondrous ignorance is confined to matters religious. As a check, the pollsters also determined that only 59 percent of respondents could name the vice president of the United States.

It may be that only half the people in this great land of ours know their own address, which is why we have so many cars driving endlessly up and down our roads. Those might be people trying to find their way home.

And yet the exciting thing is, those people can not only attend demonstrations in Washington, they can also vote. So don’t tell me this isn’t a great country.

Amsterdam

As for Chinese Buddhists making a move on Amsterdam, I note with amusement that when their World Peace and Health Organization offered $450,000 for the old Bacon elementary school, which has been shuttered for four years and had no prospects of reuse, the Board of Education had the temerity to demand an extra $10,000 to cover the cost of a required referendum on the sale.

The board did not, however, make any similar demand on the developer William Petrosino, whose proposed purchase of the former Walter Elwood Museum will be subject to the same referendum next Tuesday. He’ll get a ride on the robe-tails of the Buddhists.

School Superintendent Thomas Perillo tells me the board accepted Petrosino’s offer of $80,000 for that building in preference to the Buddhists’ own offer of $135,000 so as to put the building back on the tax rolls. Petrosino plans to convert it to apartments, which are taxable, while the World Peace and Health Organization is tax-exempt.

He told me the Buddhists initially offered the same $80,000 but increased their offer to compensate for the lack of taxes. The board obviously was not persuaded.

So Petrosino is in line for the old museum, the Buddhists for the old elementary school, the two proposals to be voted on separately but at the same time.

I’ll be watching to see how much opposition there is, if any, to selling the white elephant of a closed school to a group of Chinese Buddhists for use as a Buddhist institute. How many residents will be prepared to turn down $450,000, when the prospective buyer is even paying for their opportunity to vote?

Lithuanian, please

And speaking of Amsterdam, several readers instructed me that the former St. Casimir’s Church there, on East Main Street, was Lithuanian, not Polish.

They must have read my mind. I didn’t say it was Polish, but I did think it, and somehow they found me out.

All I said was that I imagined some Polish-Americans sitting cross-legged in that old building, now a Buddhist temple, doing Buddhist routines to relieve their aching joints, and from that the readers apparently figured me out.

One of these readers did allow that there used to be a few Polish parishioners, St. Casimir being the patron saint of both Poland and Lithuania, so my thoughts were not entirely misguided, but the Polish churches in Amsterdam were St. Stanislaus’ and St. John’s.

“Sermons were delivered in Lithuanian, and the parish records and bulletin were written only in Lithuanian during the first half of the 20th century,” the reader advised me.

But time moves right along, and now the language most heard in that old building is Mandarin.

 
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comments

September 30, 2010
12:14 p.m.
nygirl61 says...

Makes perfect sense to me... I guess if you're going to reject the possibility of a God, you better know what you're not believing in. I've been a Catholic all my life and have never once heard the term "transsubstantiation." I disagree that Catholics don't know the bread and wine they partake of at Mass represents the body and blood of Christ. Oh, well, Carl Strock got a good laugh out of this... although I fail to see what was so humorous. I'm sure there are many things he does during his day that he does not know the origin of... it doesn't make him stupid as he has suggested Catholics are... it just makes him... human... well... almost anyway!

September 30, 2010
1:21 p.m.
ronzo says...

I don't know how anyone can be Catholic and not know about transubstantiation, one of most basic tenets of Catholicism, that is pretty much one of the few beliefs that separates Catholics from mainline Protestants. This Pew Research poll just proves that many people believe and do things, without knowing why they believe what they do, or do what they do.

September 30, 2010
2:45 p.m.
nygirl61 says...

Ronzo... I'm not sure what you mean. I know what the word transubstantiation means, but I never heard that word in all my years. Are you saying you have heard the word? I went to religious instruction every week all through school and learned all about receiving communion, but honestly, I don't ever remember hearing that particular word... and I doubt I could ever have spelled it either! Again, I will say, people do many things throughout the course of their lives and never know why. Catholics are no different.

September 30, 2010
3:44 p.m.
annarondac says...

I think when one knows his own religion, and knows it well, that is enough. Book knowledge does not answer prayer. Loving and living ones chosen religion is a true blessing, no matter what the faith.

September 30, 2010
4:05 p.m.
ronzo says...

nygirl61: What I mean (and no criticism of you personally) is that some people behave and act in ways just exactly as you stated..."do many things throughout the course of their lives and never know why". That is exactly what this poll tried to demonstrate. Some people are like pied-piper followers, not knowing why they are even following whatever they are following. And these people vote in elections. Scary.

October 1, 2010
12:16 p.m.
nygirl61 says...

Carl Stock said: "Forty-five percent of Catholics didn’t know that in the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood of Christ are supposed to be actually, not just symbolically, present. (It’s called transsubstantiaton.) They go to Mass every Sunday and solemnly take the wafer and the wine, not knowing what it’s all about! It makes me hold my very sides for laughter."

Then he goes on to say: "Transsubstantiation, Martin Luther, Maimonides — scoffers know these subjects better than believers, a lot of whom, I guess, just robotically go through the motions without ever wondering what they’re doing, all the while congratulating themselves for their “faith.”

My issue is how did the poll phrase this question? If they asked, "what is transsubstantiation", then I would guess that most people wouldn't know what that word meant, but if the poll asked, "what is the significance of the bread and wine offered at communion," then I would say most, if not all, Catholics would know the answer to that.

I have a very hard time believing that Catholics do not know the significance of the bread and wine or what they represent. It is actually said out loud to the congregation by the priest just before communion, so unless someone was deaf, you couldn't help but hear him say this is the body and blood of Christ.

It's very unfair of Carl Strock to laugh because someone doesn't know the meaning of a particular word.

October 2, 2010
12:05 p.m.
treanorgazette says...

nygirl61: you made Carl Strock's point when you said you disagree that Catholics don't know the bread and wine they partake of at Mass represents the body and blood of Christ. The point is that they are not a representation, and it is a tenant of Catholic faith that the substance changes in a way we cannot perceive. You should have heard that word before, and I have to wonder if you missed it - and its meaning - just as most Catholics have. I'm also wondering how many pews the Pew Research Institute surveyed. (Sorry.)

October 2, 2010
3:23 p.m.
nygirl61 says...

treanorgazette... please re-read my words... I didn't agree with Carl Strock at all! By the way, I asked several of my friends who are Catholic, I asked my family, all raised Catholic, and none have heard that particular word. In the 1950s-1960s when I was in grade school, we were taught our religion by use of a catechism. I no longer have my copy, but maybe someone out there has theirs and can enlighten us as to whether or not that word appears in the book. The Catholic Church no longer uses the catechism and since I have not practiced my religion in many years, I do not know by what means they teach the faith to the young. When my own children, now fully grown, were in grade school, they were not using the catechism, one reason I withdrew them from religious instruction. If that particular word was taught to us, perhaps I was absent or not paying attention, but that would have to be the case for the friends and family I asked, who, by the way, DID know what the bread and wine represented! Oh, well, no matter, the point being that I believe Carl Strock is totally wrong that Catholics do not know the meaning behind the bread and wine given at communion. My point was that Catholics can know why without knowing the meaning of the word in question. And also that since I have not seen the actual survey, I do not know how the question was phrased. Amen.

October 2, 2010
4:42 p.m.
treanorgazette says...

nygirl61 - I fear I may have been unclear. My contention is that you are saying the bread and wine "represent" the the body and blood of Christ. The tenet is that Christ is actually present, and Carl Strock's point is the average Catholic fails to see the distinction. Your use of the word "represent" makes his point. If the average Catholic were to say, "Well that just never made any sense to me," that would indicate that Catholics don't accept a central and distinguishing doctrine of their faith. However, Mr Strock points out the average Catholic might say, "Is that what we're supposed to believe?" This indicates, as ronzo and Mr. Strock point out, that a great deal of rote memorization and "going through the motions" has been invested by people who never asked, "Is that what we're supposed to believe?"

A glossary was added to the Catechism in 2000. It defines transubstantiation as "The scholastic term used to designate the unique change of the Eucharistic bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ." So I think you are right - the name for this is academic. But the distinction between representing and being the Body of Christ is much more than academic.

October 2, 2010
7:22 p.m.
nygirl61 says...

treanorgazette... I get what you're saying, and thanks for checking on the catechism for me. Most polls are skewered anyway and really don't mean much. Appreciate your input and respectful discussion.

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