General Question

Excalibur's avatar

Is narrow-mindedness a result of a lack of education?

Asked by Excalibur (331 points ) January 4th, 2010

I have heard that the average church-goer tends to reject high-class, well-educated people. The operative word here is average because there are obviously areas where the predominantly high-class, well-educated make up the congregation and therefore are not rejected as they are in the majority. However, I have even heard of one high-class couple who paid for the restoration of a church and were still considered unacceptable by the local church-goers. Why? Is it lack of education, jealousy of the well-to-do, or an inability to accept others as they are?

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36 Answers

smashbox's avatar

Where did you hear this at, sounds like a lot of BS to me

Cotton101's avatar

Narrow-minded people come from all walks of life!

ucme's avatar

Narrow minded people I find more often than not walk the corridors of power. Very narrow!

Snarp's avatar

The answer to your first question is yes, sometimes. But it doesn’t necessarily relate to the paragraph below. If high class means wealthy, then it is not synonymous with well-educated. Well educated people are more likely to be less religious, and many Christian denominations have a persecution complex. They want to be like Jesus, Jesus was a victim and a martyr, so in spite of Christianity being by far the majority religion in the U.S., many Christians want to feel persecuted. Well educated people are then assumed to be the persecutors. Someone can be well educated in general and still accept this persecution complex and therefore be narrow minded.

Wealthy people, on the other hand, have a long history of being mistrusted in this country. The classes have essentially been completely geographically and socially segregated for about a hundred years, and even before that, there was some social mixing, but there was still class segregation. The streetcar era basically ended most social class mixing, and the rest was eliminated by the automobile. It was the wealthy people who did this. There is very little understanding between different social classes, and suspicion and distrust is to be expected, especially from those who are at the lower end of the social spectrum.

MrItty's avatar

You seem to be equating “narrow minded” with “religious”.

I reject your premise.

bunnygrl's avatar

@Cotton101 and @ucme well said. I’ve seen narrow mindedness everywhere. I’ve heard it at work, I’ve heard it when i was at University years ago (and not just from fellow students either disappointingly enough) I’ve even heard a fair bit on tv. Politicians seem to be very guilty of this, seeing their own (or party’s) view and disregarding any others.
hugs everyone xx

smashbox's avatar

@MrItty, that is exactly how I viewed it when I read the question. I won’t bother answering it.

Excalibur's avatar

@MrItty That was not my intention. It just happened that I have heard of this happening in church groups and actually, it is not only the wealthy but people who are ‘individual’ or think for themselves and do not blindly follow the leader.

ucme's avatar

@bunnygrl Hugh C ME! Cheers fwuffy bunny.

Excalibur's avatar

@bunnygirl Okay, point taken. So what makes a person open-minded then?

JLeslie's avatar

I used to think that being narrow minded had to do with less educatin and less exposure to people from other walks of life, other parts of the country and the world. Then I moved to the south and was stunned to find so amny educated people who are extremely narrow in their thinking, very clannish, some racist, take their religious faith to a ridiculous extreme, and seem unaware of the world around them, even though they have had exposure to it. Never ceases to amaze me.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think that education can lead to narrow-mindedness because one can fall into the trap of thinking they now have the answers – but one must stay abreast it all and remain aware of the fall backs of any discipline and of any field that claims truth – this includes religion and education so anyone really can be narrow-minded.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Interesting point.

Cotton101's avatar

What is an open-minded person?

An open-minded person is someone who is willing to consider ideas, opinions and arguments purely on their merit. If an idea can be shown to be correct then an open-minded person will alter, or add to, their world-view with this new-found knowledge. If the new idea does not stand up to scrutiny however, it will be rejected.

Having an open-mind does not mean embracing all kinds of weird ideas and uncritically accepting them no matter how bizarre or unsupported by evidence they are. The actual word used to describe a person who will believe in absolutely anything is: credulous.

Don’t know who said this…but, loved the quality of the explanation for what is an open-minded person.

bunnygrl's avatar

@ucme lol <throws squeezy hugs>

@Excalibur well, in my humble opinion, the ability to listen, really actually listen, without your mind already being made up on the topic of discussion. The willingness to accept that other views can be just as valid, and as worthy, as your own. Maybe also an inquisitiveness about the world around you, about how it works and thinks and acts the way it does. Beyond a doubt the saddest sound in the world has to be the one made by a mind slamming shut. Hugs everyone xx

ucme's avatar

@bunnygrl Wow that bunny has claws. Watership Down?

bunnygrl's avatar

claws? oh no!!! have I sounded snappy or grouchy? I’m sorry, apologies a millionfold if i have, and @Excalibur I’m sorry if i came off sounding like that. I really didn’t mean to. I only meant to answer your question and describe what I thought (to me) an open mind meant. oh dear. sorry everyone. huge hugs xx

ucme's avatar

@ bunnygrl No no, I meant the ability to say what you believe in that’s all.

CMaz's avatar

Narrow-mindedness is subjective.

An individuals education when trying to define narrow-mindedness is also subjective.

bunnygrl's avatar

@ucme sorry again lol lol <mountains of squeezy hugs> I misunderstood. In my defence its a bank holiday in Scotland and my brain is still in weekend mode lol hugs xx

_Liliya_'s avatar

I think it can be a variety of things. Education just being one of them.
However sometimes it can be just because people want to protect their views, even if they are educated. So if someone doesn’t fit in with their way of thinking then they naturally reject them so they don’t have to consider another way of thinking.
Its like a self-preservation mechanism in some people.

An open-minded person, on the other hand, would be one who accepts that people have their own unique views. That means that even if they don’t like or believe what the other is saying, they still listen to them and respect them. Which is pretty much the same as what @bunnygrl and @Cotton101 have said.

So, from what I see, maybe the church-goers are just not so open-minded. Its possible that they viewed the couple’s donation as shallow and therefore wanted to show them that they would not accept that. I think that would probably come from a way of thinking in which one believes wealthy and rich people have so much money that any donation is just a way of showing off. In this case, the church-goers probably saw the act of generosity as sucking up to God and them. I know a few people who think like this and this could very much be the case for the church-goers.

So for the church-goers in this case, sucking up to God and them just seems fake and not worthy of their respect. If what I think is true and they do believe that.

However this is just how I see it from the way you described the situation. So I could be entirely wrong. I don’t know the church-goers or the couple and I’m not a “church-goer”, in the traditional sense, so I cannot justify their actions or say that I know exactly why they felt that way. Its just my take on this issue.

Although I think if we could actually talk to the couple and the church-goers about this, then that would shed a lot of light on this issue of ignorance. The couple could give us their reason for paying for the restoration and the local church-goers could explain to us why they didn’t accept the couple. That probably would clear up a lot of things, I think.

And thanks for such a thoughful question, it really made me think! :)

ucme's avatar

@bunnygrl Ahh bonnie Scotland. I’m not far south of you. Bloody freezing. Roll on the spring.

Excalibur's avatar

@Lillya Anyone who doesn’t accept the generous gift of having their church restored seems ungrateful to me. The couple obviously gave because they saw a need for it and were able to do it. To view it any other way seems unkind to me.

Snarp's avatar

@Excalibur I think it could easily be seen as an attempt to buy their way in.

Excalibur's avatar

@Snarp How sad that people should be so negative in their thinking.

_Liliya_'s avatar

@Excalibur True, but thats just how you and me see it. They easily could have seen it as @Snarp said. And maybe hes right. For one thing, we don’t even know these people and were not there when they made that decision. So we can only assume their true intentions. Although I am really hoping their intentions were pure, I have to realize that sometimes people’s intentions aren’t always the best. :(

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think narrow-minded people just have a real fear of leaving their comfort zones. For whatever reason, they can’t emotionally handle people, life and ideas not being the way they want them to be. Maybe they grew up in a home where that was taught and never questioned it. Maybe they were in such an unstable environment that they stay in their comfort zones as a way to feel safe.

Think about why people would be drawn to authoritarian religious beliefs. There’s a comfort in being told that THIS IS HOW THINGS ARE and never having to push one’s mind beyond that or even consider that one’s beliefs may be wrong. People like that think its horrible to be wrong and a moral failing to make mistakes. We all know people like this. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”? Insane. Who can live up to that? But they’ll try…

I know that the woman who raised me couldn’t tolerate change or differences in opinion for reasons of her own and was extremely narrow-minded. She never equated that to her sadness about being lonely (she refused to get to know people who weren’t from her church), or why she was in an unfulfilling job (she refused to believe that people could get a HS diploma after age 18), or why people didn’t like being around her very much (she would get argumentative if someone gave her an opinion that differed from her own about anything).

But I can’t pity people in that predicament. If one lives long enough, one is confronted with ideas, people, lifestyles and opinions that are different from one’s own. One is challenged to think again, to change one’s mind, to think of change as change and not “destruction” and “failure”. If an adult refuses to do so, that’s on them.

Silhouette's avatar

Education and economic social status have nothing to do with narrow mindedness. People from all walks of life can be persons who cannot see beyond their own set of values.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

Narrow minded people are normally people who are threatened by anyone who isn’t exactly like them. They find comfort in everything and everyone being exactly the same. I’ve never been able to figure out why someone wouldn’t want to broaden their horizons and let some new ideas into their heads. Life is too short and the world is too large to live in a vacuum because you’re afraid of something new and different.

I have heard people in the town I live in saying… “If I can get it here, I don’t need it!” That blows my mind. I’m not the most adventuresome person on earth… but at least I’d like to see what’s on the other side the “fence”!! I think this kind of attitude is passed down from generation to generation. At some point, I don’t even think people know why they feel like they do .. it’s just what they’ve always known

CMaz's avatar

@JustPlainBarb – I do not see your example as a form of “Narrow minded” except that is the way you wish to see it.

:-)

JustPlainBarb's avatar

@ChazMaz Well I guess I better work on that then… :)

lonelydragon's avatar

Sometimes, that can be true. As you said, some (but not all) religious people are threatened by those with education. When I still attended church, a service never went by without one of the congregants making a cutting remark about college-educated people, including doctors and even ministers sometimes. I think they were threatened and possibly intimidated by those with more education than themselves, and they weren’t open to new ideas, because then they might have to reconsider their stances on certain issues. Of course, I grew up in a blue collar town where it was not unusual for people to drop out of high school, so my experience may not be generalizable to the church-going population at large.

With that said, I have known educated people who were also narrow-minded. As Simone said, people can immerse themselves in their specialties and close themselves off to new ideas or information. But, in general, having a college education will help a person to become more open-minded because it can take us out of our comfort zones and encourage us to critically engage with ideas or beliefs that we might’ve taken for granted. Of course, I’m not saying that going to college is the only way to do that, just the most convenient and comprehensive way. While a person could hypothetically get the same experience in high school, I don’t think that happens too often in America because of the (declining) quality of the public school systems.

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s one potential reason. But I’ve encountered many open-minded people, who just had a basic education. On the other hand, I’ve met very narrow-minded academics.

Another reason for narrow-mindedness is ideological indoctrination.

lonelydragon's avatar

@mattbrowne Good point. Ideological indoctrination can happen at any educational level.

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