Customer Reviews for

Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--and Doesn't

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

See how much you really know about religion.

I think the author was correct in his view that Americans claim they are very religious but don't really know much about it. I agree with his view that it is important to teach religion in school. You need to learn religion not to believe any one religion specifically ...
I think the author was correct in his view that Americans claim they are very religious but don't really know much about it. I agree with his view that it is important to teach religion in school. You need to learn religion not to believe any one religion specifically but that you need it to understand the world. I am not sure about everything he claims, such as Protestantism was more of a reason religion was taken out of school than secularism. However, even where I am not in complete agreement with the author I thing he makes some good points. He also,has a religion test in the book in which I knew all about the Christian religion but not as much as I assumed when it came to other world religions.

posted by 697577 on April 6, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

You won't learn religious literacy from this book

I was hoping to learn about the world's religious from this book. The last chapter lists terms that were somewhat educational, although it is like reading a dictionary or brief encyclopedia entries. However, most of the book contains poorly constructed arguments for why...
I was hoping to learn about the world's religious from this book. The last chapter lists terms that were somewhat educational, although it is like reading a dictionary or brief encyclopedia entries. However, most of the book contains poorly constructed arguments for why we should know more about religion. Indeed, Stephen Prothero's writing is arrogant. For instance, he refers to a biblical reference by President Bush in a speach and is amazed that a CBS commentator didn't understand the refernce. Rather than explain the biblical reference to the reader, Mr. Prothero assumes that the reader would be as shocked as he is that the CBS commentator is not a biblical scholar. The reader is left wondering what President Bush's biblical reference meant.

posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2007

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2009

    See how much you really know about religion.

    I think the author was correct in his view that Americans claim they are very religious but don't really know much about it. I agree with his view that it is important to teach religion in school. You need to learn religion not to believe any one religion specifically but that you need it to understand the world. I am not sure about everything he claims, such as Protestantism was more of a reason religion was taken out of school than secularism. However, even where I am not in complete agreement with the author I thing he makes some good points. He also,has a religion test in the book in which I knew all about the Christian religion but not as much as I assumed when it came to other world religions.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2007

    We should all read this book

    When I went to school 20 years ago, we all needed to study comparative history and comparative religious history. Today somehow schools no longer require it. I am not a proponent of pushing someone to one side or another when it comes to religion - we are all entitled our own decision, but knowledge about other's perspective and background is key. Prothero's book is an excellent read - it is well written, even funny at times. The glossary of terms at the end it itself is worth the money. I have recommended it to a half dozen friends who have also had great things to say about it - and it has brought a lot to the table for us to discuss.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2007

    You won't learn religious literacy from this book

    I was hoping to learn about the world's religious from this book. The last chapter lists terms that were somewhat educational, although it is like reading a dictionary or brief encyclopedia entries. However, most of the book contains poorly constructed arguments for why we should know more about religion. Indeed, Stephen Prothero's writing is arrogant. For instance, he refers to a biblical reference by President Bush in a speach and is amazed that a CBS commentator didn't understand the refernce. Rather than explain the biblical reference to the reader, Mr. Prothero assumes that the reader would be as shocked as he is that the CBS commentator is not a biblical scholar. The reader is left wondering what President Bush's biblical reference meant.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2007

    A Great Historical Read

    This book does a great job of going back and reviewing the history of how we got to such a lack of religious education in this country. The answers certainly surprised me. Also surprising is how open our schools could be to religious education if we were to stick to teaching not preaching, and yet how few schools actually choose to do so. I was as much surprised at my lack of understanding of the first amendment as I was my lack of knowledge of faiths other than my own. A great historical review as well as just the spur many need to brush up on their religious knowledge and maybe learn a few things about another religion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2007

    Don't give it to a neighbor

    This is an outstanding, compelling piece, exposing our American underbelly of religious illiteracy. Don't read it and give it away. It deserves to be on your desk next to Webster's, the dictionary at the back is terrific, and so good to keep it near and learn a few 'facts' every day. Also recommended are more books to make us smarter religiously. The author's successful intent is to expose the problem, and give ways to fix us to be better and more aware citizens. Worthy goals, an excellent book, and so easy to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2007

    a must read

    both an enjoyable read, and a thought provoking discussion of the importance of religious literacy in the united states. as our world gets ever smaller, it seems even more important to understand our traditions, and those of others, as clearly as possible. i find prothero's discussion fair and open minded, in no sense does he 'choose sides' or pass judgement. also full of interesting antecdotes. its a quick read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    Interesting Argument I found Prothero's book to be very informa

    Interesting Argument

    I found Prothero's book to be very informative. I had not pondered very much on the subject of "Religious Literacy" in our country. His basic contention is that in order to really understand our country and the world as a whole we must have some kind of knowledge of the religious beliefs of our fellow national and world citizens. In fact, he believes it's essential to have such basic knowledge. The book is divided primarily into two parts. The first part provides historical background to the importance and influence of religion in the United States and also includes his primary argument. The second part is a dictionary of religious literacy. Overall, I feel the book was well written and that the author clearly expressed his argument. I particularly liked the dictionary of religious literacy at the end of the book. I learned a great deal just be reading that section. However, he does give the impression that he laments the "good ole days" when Protestant Christianity dominated much of our national culture. Especially, Protestant Christianity that focused on exgesis and doctrine. He seems a bit critical of Evangelicalism not to mention Secularism. Nevertheless, the book was extremely informative and I would certainly recommend it.

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  • Posted August 24, 2009

    ..

    very informative, not something fun to read, but I liked it because I did learn new things from it! I would recommend it to anyone who is interested about learning a little bit more about religions.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2007

    A reviewer

    I appreciated the historical context of how we got to this place - where the majority of the country doesn't know the basics about their own religion much less the religions of people they interact with every day. I also tend to agree with the premise that this should be a topic reinstated in the school system 'as unpopular an idea that may be'. But what I would have liked to have seen in this book is more information regarding the what the basic principles of the major religions are. This book felt very one-note and I was hoping for more enlightenment.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2007

    If you can pass this quiz, thank a pastor!

    I picked this book up at B&N a week ago, thinking it would add to my already well stocked group of books on related subjects. Then I did a mental check of the opening quiz which the author says he gave to some students. I considered myself religiously literate, but I missed two questions entirely! I had been exposed to the information in college, but I had not needed any recall of that kind of information since then. This is what solidified my selection of this book on a book buying spree for my birthday, it forced me to look beyond related faiths and outside my comfort zone. I had to actually think! What a nice surprise. Upon reading the book, which is structured for easy reading I discovered that there are no concrete set of 10 commandments. Interesting! I had to pick up my various Bibles and check out why. There were for me several other bits of info even though I did know the first books of the Bible, and I knew the names of the Gospels. (I would not have been able to list which were synoptic, or how they differ from each other, etc.) I was slightly disappointed though, with the authors call to action or solution to the issue. He did not, in my opinion set up a truely viable methodology for folks who care to effectively work on the issue. He identified it very well, from historical references to present day. He said what he thought could be a solution, but he did not give a 'battle plan' of sorts. Perhaps he is saving that for another book. This book is well worth reading for anyone who is concerned with morality in America, and one of the contributing factors underpining a structure of morality is our basics in religious education, in this case beyond Christianity to include most of the major religions of the world. He also gives a very abreviated explaination of American Christian criteria and beliefs, which is where my knowledge fell a bit short. I highly recommend this book. Paul Swanson empoweredvolunteer.com

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2007

    Biased against Christian thought

    It seems you can't bash any group in the United States, unless they're white men or Christians. This book's dictionary entry for the Bible mentions Thomas Paine's view that the Bible was, 'a book of lies'. This book's dictionary entry for the Quran, on the other hand, is wholly positive, with no scholar's dissenting opinion. The entry also mentions that certain Christian groups have had problems with the Quran. The section on the Quran leaves you feeling the Quran is without fault but intolerant others (American Christians) have unfounded problems with it. How does 'religious literacy' work when criticism of certain faiths has to be done with the gloves on, so as not to offend? But don't take my word for it, read those two entries in a bookstore and make up your own mind. (I would recommend either book by Hirsi Ali for a scholar's dissenting opinion on the Quran.)

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2007

    A reviewer

    Great book on all religious views. Easy read while still enlightening and educational

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 19, 2010

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    Posted December 9, 2009

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    Posted January 10, 2010

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    Posted January 17, 2010

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    Posted September 13, 2011

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    Posted August 13, 2009

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    Posted June 20, 2011

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