Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Religious literacy - Names of scriptures of major world religions.

It begins with a paradox I had been wrestling with for some time when my Austrian colleague helped to clarify it for me. That paradox is this: Americans are both deeply religious and profoundly ignorant about religion. They are Protestants who can’t name the four Gospels, Catholics who can’t name the seven sacraments, and Jews who can’t name the five books of Moses. Atheists may be as rare in America as Jesus-loving politicians are in Europe, but here faith is almost entirely devoid of content. One of the most religious countries on earth is also a nation of religious illiterates.1

Prothero, Stephen. Religious Literacy (p. 1). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.

What are the harms done in our society because of religious illiteracy? What are the harms done to Unitarian Universalists due to their religious illiteracy?

Unitarian Univeralists covenant together to affirm and promote seven principles the third of which is acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations. How is this to be accomplished from a place of ignorance? It would seem that a basic course in faith development for UUs would be an overview course in world religions and how these religions have shared cultures and society and how cultures and society have shaped them.

It seems that most Americans which includes UUs can’t name the major scriptures of the major religions. Go ahead and give it a try. What are the major scriptures of  the world’s biggest religions: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, and here in the U.S. Mormonism? Answers are in the comments. Let us know who you did on the quiz.


  1. Christianity, The Bible
    Judaism - The Talmud
    Buddhism - The Tripitaka
    Hinduism - Upanishads
    Taosim - Tao Te Ching
    Mormanism - The Book of Morman

  2. I got three out of the seven. I think your point is well taken. People come to UU for many other religions and denominations and most UUs are very ignorant of faith traditions other than their own and seem very uninterested. If a course in religious literacy overview were offered in most congregations, I don't know if you could get enough people to sign up for it to comprise a class.

  3. Was talking with a 28 year old woman today at lunch who told me her father as Catholic and her mother was evangelical and she and her husband are agnostic and don't consider themselves a member of any faith community. She asked me if Catholics were "Christain?" Seems that she has gotten the idea from her mother than Catholics aren't Christian.


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