Teaching Religious Literacy

Download Audio

Americans are among the most religious people on earth, if you ask if they believe. But if you dig a little deeper and ask for a few details on their religion or anyone else's, don't expect too much. Surveys show only half of Americans can name even one of the four Gospels — never mind the four Noble Truths or Buddhism, or the Ten Commandments.

Religious studies scholar Stephen Prothero says that religious illiteracy is a serious problem in a world where so much conflict, politics and conviction is framed in religious terms. Such a big problem, he argues, that we need to start teaching religion in public schools to know what we're all talking about.

This hour On Point: a call for religious literacy, starting in our schools.

Quotes from the Show:

"There's no constitutional problem here. When individual curricula or individual teachers are going to preach to kids, then there's a problem." Stephen Prothero

"Obviously we have a biblical literacy problem around the country, but we also have a geography literacy problem, a history literacy problem, etc." The Rev. Barry Lynn

"I'd rather get politicians get out of talking about religion rather than interjecting religious studies in public schools so we can understand what they are saying." The Rev. Barry Lynn

"If students learn objectively about world's religions, then they will come to appreciate the truth." Stephen Prothero


Stephen Prothero, author of "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn't" and chair of the Religion Department at Boston University

The Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and author of ""Piety & Politics: The Right-Wing Assault On Religious Freedom."

Robbie Cohen, chair the Department of Teaching and Learning and former director of New York University's social studies program

This program aired on March 13, 2007.


More from On Point

Listen Live