I really shouldn't be here. There's so much else that I could be doing. I could be preparing for short talks I've got to give at two conferences later in the year (how'd that happen?!), I could finally get round to finishing, re-designing and launching anabaptist.co.uk and anabaptism.net, I could post the review of Pagan Christianity that I've been meaning to post for absolutely ages, I could finish off a couple of articles that I'm writing for Presence.tv (on anabaptist eschatology and 'a peaceful future'), I could caress my Nokia N95 8GB that I lurve, I could even do some work!
But, alas, it's always easiest to do those things that are the least important, so I thought I'd share some of the results of this survey, which I thought were pretty interesting:
• The United States has by far the highest level of its adult population that claims to have read at least one passage from the Bible in the last year (75%) and to have a Bible at home (93%), but it doesn’t score better than anyone else on tests of basic Biblical literacy. For example, large numbers of Americans, just like people in the other eight countries surveyed, mistakenly thought that Jesus had authored a book of the Bible, and couldn’t correctly distinguish between Paul and Moses in terms of which figure belongs to the Old Testament.
• Even within highly secularized nations such as France, the U.K. and Holland, broad majorities report a positive attitude towards the Bible, describing it as “interesting” and expressing a desire to know more about it.
• Broad majorities also describe the Bible as “difficult” and express a need for help in understanding it – suggesting, according to the authors of the study, a “teaching moment” for the churches.
• Fundamentalists, or those who take a literal view of Scripture, do not know more about the Bible than anyone else. In fact, researchers said, it’s readers whose attitudes they described as “critical,” meaning that they see the Bible as the word of God but in need of interpretation, who are over-represented at the highest levels of Biblical literacy. In other words, fundamentalists actually score lower on basic Biblical awareness.
• In virtually every country surveyed, those who take a “critical” view of the Bible represent a larger share of the population than either “fundamentalists” or “reductionists,” meaning those who see the Bible simply as literature or a collection of myths and legends. In the United States, “fundamentalists” are 27 percent of the population, “critics” 51 percent, and “reductionists” 20 percent. Interestingly, both Poland and Russia have a similar share of “fundamentalists,” despite lacking the strong Evangelical Protestant tradition familiar in the U.S.
• There is no apparent correlation between reading the Bible and any particular political orientation. In other words, it’s not the case that the more someone reads the Bible, the more likely they are to be a political conservative or liberal.
Interesting stuff, huh?