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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Are you knowledgeable about your religion?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38975points) January 30th, 2010

According to

65% of Americans believe that religion is an important part of their daily life…given your own experience with religion and that of others, do you think believers around you are knowledgeable about the religion that they believe in…for example, for the Christians around you, do they know the Bible like the back of their hand (do they have to?), do they go to Church as often as necessary (is it necessary?) they participate in group discussions about their religion (have you done this? and do you like it?)...

What does it mean to have religion be an important part of one’s life? Is it different for everyone? Is it all about quick prayers or deep conversations? What is ‘continuing education’ when it comes to your religion?

Are people concerned about the history of their religion, are they discussing comparisons of religions? Is knowing the history of your religion and its movement important to you?

I know that, when it comes to religion, some people are against questioning others’ beliefs ..but is it easier for you to question those that are of similar beliefs to yours?

Do you think you’re very knowledgeable about your religion?

remember, this is NOT a question about whether or not religion is a good/bad idea…let’s put that aside for this moment

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55 Answers

HTDC's avatar

I don’t think many Christians who say they are believers have ever really read through the bible, if they had, I doubt they would want to be believers anymore. Most claim to be Christian but it is a term used loosely. I think to be a religious person (who associates with an organized religion) you really do need to know exactly what you believe in. And if you decide you don’t believe in that, it’s probably best not to be known as a Christian, Muslim or whatever it may be. IMHO.

janbb's avatar

Quite knowledgeable, although religion is not a big part of my life.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@HTDC A lot of people that try to convert me (they’re my patients in hospitals) always say ‘just read the Bible, you will find all the answers’ and they sit in the waiting area, reading it over and over…and so I know that they read it and I know I’ve read it (first when I was a child, then as a teenager and often as an adult) but it seems like we’re reading different things into it

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@janbb how did you become knowledgeable about your religion? and how do you continue to maintain that knowledge?

HTDC's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I guess they interpret it very differently to you, perhaps.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@HTDC But if all I need is to ‘read the Bible’ how can I know/use the correct interpretation?

Ivan's avatar

My what?

dpworkin's avatar

I am not a very religious person, but I am a Jew, and I have made sure to become very knowledgeable about Judaism. I attended Chabad for years, and I own the Steinsalz edition of the Talmud as well as many other primary texts and exegeses. To my regret, however, I do not read Hebrew. I’m glad my twins do – their bar and bat mitzvot will occur in June.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Ivan lol, in our cases the question is ‘how knowledgeable are you about other people’s religions?’

HTDC's avatar


Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin did you switch the letters around in your username? it’s making me feel ‘off’ lol…and I didn’t know you had twins! awesome

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@HTDC I have no problem telling them my opinion or dealing with the situation. This is really more about analyzing what is necessary for someone to ‘see’ what others have seen in a holy (to them) text

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’m not a beliver, but I have a fairly good knowlege of Anglican Christianity (the tradition I was raised in) and Islam (having served much of my career in areas where that is the predominant religion). I try to show respect for the beliefs and traditions of all cultures and find that getting along with people of different cultures is much easier if one has some understamding of that culture. @Simone_De_Beauvoir Has Orthodoxy made as strong a comeback in Russia as the news media seems to depict?

dpworkin's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I did change my user name. the reason is in my profile

Lightlyseared's avatar

Yes. Although mainly because I have no religion

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin oh no! got it
@stranger_in_a_strange_land I don’t believe it ever lost its hold on people.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar didn’t take much to repel me ;)

janbb's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m Jewish and I identify quite strongly as a cutural Jew, but not with the religion. I learned about the religion as a child going to Hebrew school and attended a labor Zionist camp for many summers. In addition, my brothers both became modern Orthodox Jews as adults and are scholars of Jewish thought. What I like to think of as Jewish values inform my thinking and humanism. I do enjoy partaking in the rituals at times and celebrating the holidays, but I have no belief in a deity.

DominicX's avatar

I’m fairly knowledgeable. Moreso than a lot of people, though nothing compared to my mom. Few Catholics have ever even taken a look at the Catechism. If I have a question, I’ll look there and I find that I can easily answer many people’s questions about Catholicism. To me, that means I am fairly knowledgeable. As for the Bible, again, I haven’t read every word, but I know some of it. Enough to be able to correct people, so to me, that’s a good thing.

Keep in mind I tend to be more agnostic sometimes, but I’ve been affiliated with the Catholic church my whole life.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@janbb thank you for elaborating, that was great to read – what were labor Zionist camps like?

Cupcake's avatar

I am a member of the Baha’i Faith and am very knowledgable about my Faith. I have participated in group deepenings and study circles, taught children’s classes, taught at a Regional Baha’i School and studied the Holy Writings independently. I also read current communication from the global, national and local governing bodies. For the last couple of years, I have been elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly and have become acquainted with administrative Guidance related to the community.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Cupcake wow, now that is what I’m talking about – tell me, what does the Local Spiritual Assembly do?

janbb's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Well, this was back a ways when Israel seemed to still have a lot going for it in terms of ideals. Camp was terrific; it was run like a quasi-kibbutz with work periods, Hebrew lessons, discussion periods, and activities like sports, arts and Israeli folksinging and dancing. I met a number of really great, bright people. In addition to learning about Judaism and Israel, we talked a lot about social injustice in America and sang labor folk songs, etc. It was just great; I loved being there.

clarice's avatar

Sad to say, not really.

I could tell your all the stories and parables that I’ve heard from catechism classes though but if you really did pose a technical question asking me to quote from the Bible, I wouldn’t be able to do that.

There’s this statement that the priests always like to reiterate on Bible Sunday; that Catholics buy effing huge Bibles not because we like to read books with large fonts, no, we just leave them to collect dust on the altar unlike them trusty highlighting underlining pagefolding bookmaking Protestants. I find it rather true really.
I have studied in Catholic and Methodist institutions for my formal education and I must say that the Protestants really do love their Bible a whole lot more. I on the other hand have a whole lot of Bibles that can pass off as new.

Anyone need one? I provide free international shipping too.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@clarice lol..some people prob want ‘em

Mamradpivo's avatar

I know pretty much everything there is to know about nothing.

This question really makes me want to listen to REM’s ‘Losing my Religion’ for some reason, so I’m going to go do that now.

Cupcake's avatar

This sums it up better than I can. There are a variety of responsibilities.

janbb's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Forgot to mention something important about camp. It was run socialistically – you couldn’t have any money and there was no camp store. All treats were distributed to everyone at the same time, and if a package was sent from home, it had to be shared. if you needed something like toothpaste, it was provided from funds from a kitty that you had contributed to at the beginning of camp. As I said, many of the values I now hold were forged there.

faye's avatar

I’m not religious but also have often been told everything is in the bible. Reading the old testament verified my thoughts that organized religion was not for me.

TexasDude's avatar

I don’t have a religion myself, but I make a conscious effort to learn about and be tolerant of the religions of others. I think I’m reasonably knowledgeable about most of the larger religions of the world.

eric_oahu's avatar

While my spirituality and spiritual health is my main focus in life, I have no religion. I do not go to a church of any kind and do not subscribe to named set of beliefs. The world is my buffet and I pick and choose what works for me or resonates. This is working out very well for me.

I began with deciding I know nothing about God or how anything spiritual works, then began building on it little by little with what I am able to experience results from. I’m also free to evolve spiritually and hold all my beliefs that I have acquired with an open hand.

If this is my “religion” than I know everything about it. And nothing about it.

laureth's avatar

My husband used to be a lay chaplain when he was in the Army (not an official position, but he did organize sermons and preach the Bible to some of the other families that shared his religion when he was stationed overseas). When he came back to the States with his then-wife and became active in the church of her choosing, he was assigned to staff one of those tables that nonprofits sometimes have at events. “Now, don’t go debating Bible points with nonbelievers,” the minister told him. “Chances are, they’ve actually read the Bible and know far more than any of us do about it, so you will only lose.” Husband had, of course, read the Bible many times, and took it as an interesting sign that apparently, straight from the minister, that most people in the religion didn’t. This has been proven true on many occasions when he decided to argue Bible with them. :) (He’s not Christian any more.)

I don’t personally have much religion at all, but when I was raised Christian, I’d read the Bible many times, and didn’t find any “answers.” As Wiccan, I attended my circle weekly (and then bi-weekly, and then only at Sabbats). I’ve gone to several annual gatherings of like-minded folk, and even considered training as a Wiccan prison chaplain. This was sort of made moot when I realized I was an atheist.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Most Christians I know think they’re well-versed in their religion, but most have never read the Bible, nor do they live the Christ-like existence they supposedly aspire to. I personally feel the world would be a better place if more people truly tried to live the religious principles they espouse.. but it’s tough because a lot of people are content to go by what others tell them, rather than think for themselves.

I’m not Christian; I’m Wiccan. I am pretty well-versed in my own religion, though I freely admit that I don’t practice as much as I used to. I would very much like to get back into it the way I once was because I had found a certain amount of inner peace and happiness. To me, my religion means trying to be the best, kindest, most forgiving, honest, and respectful person I can be. It’s my duty to give back to the world and help the beings in existence on the planet in any way I can.

I was interested in Paganism as a teenager, but had no idea how to get into it (I wrongly believed it was a dead religion at the time). My first girlfriend was Wiccan and helped introduce me to it. I then read as much as I could get my hands on, did a self-dedication when I felt I was ready, and then continued to teach myself and learn from others with more experience.

JLeslie's avatar

I do not know much about my religion, and religion is not really a part of my life. I am Jewish, and do identify strongly with being Jewish culturally. I was not raised with religion, except for getting together with family on Passover, and when I was very young Chanukah. I never went to any type of Hebrew school or religious school when I was young, and my parents are atheists.

When I was engaged to my husband we went to intro to Judaism classes at a synagogue, my husbands idea, so I learned a little more there when I was in my mid 20’s. More recently I have read some books about the history of the Jewish people, but not so much about God and the old Testament, more about historical facts, life in America, and cultural norms.

Facade's avatar

I used to be very knowledgeable on the Bible because I went to a Christian school for 11 years, but not too much now. I know the basics. I know the goals and aspirations of being a Christian (being Christ-like). I haven’t read the entire Bible. I don’t attend a church…

usaloveorleaveit's avatar

I am a Christian and have been for 12 years. I tried reading the bible before that, but, it didn’t make any sense to me. After I believed that Jesus died on the cross to take our punishment for sins and that three days later he rose from the grave because death did not have power over Him because He was sinless, confessed and repented of my sins, “to turn away from”, and accepted Jesus as my Lord, then the Bible came alive. Prior to this, I was spiritually dead because of my sins (Eph. 2:1–3), therefore, the bible was foolishness to me (1 Cor. 2:14). However, when I became born again, “Spiritual Re-birth” (John 3:1–8), the Holy Spirit of God began to make known to me the things of God (1 Cor. 2:6–12). I also have a promise now that just as Jesus rose from the dead, one day I will be raised to everlasting life in heaven. This promise is not just for me, but for everone that puts their faith in Jesus Christ just as I did (John 3:16).

Jeruba's avatar

I feel that I have a good, practical working knowledge of atheism as well as a reasonable amount of philosophical background.

I have also had a stifling amount of exposure to Christianity and a fair taste of other religions. I’ve attended services in many places of worship across the Protestant spectrum as well as Catholic churches, Jewish synagogues, an LDS church, and interfaith assemblies. You can add Buddhist zendos there too, although those are not religious.

DrMC's avatar

I think it’s admirable to know as much as you can about the represented faiths and belief systems particularly if you work in the medical profession.

It’s my personal nature to ponder deeply, challenge the standard and seek to see it from multiple angles. This is how I was raised by a philosophical atheist father, and a fallen catholic mother who rarely went to church.

My quest has been one of exploration and my progress will never produce a finished product.

Christianity has been my area of greatest efforts, but if one were really interested in that you need to go seeking for an extended period, not just in the bible, but amongst others similar to yourself, who are in their opinion receiving benefit.

The door to door religion salesmen where quite annoying to me as an atheist.

It’s important to recognize that atheism is basically also an ism. If you can accept that and begin studying other belief systems objectively, the general public will be easier to work with.

People near death however can be very good religion salespersons.

I have great interest in other religions, particularly wiccan – it’s nice to say you are a witch doctor.

TexasDude's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir, I’ve formally studied Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism in various college classes (religions are an important part of my major). I used to be Catholic, and I went to protestant churches for years as well, so I think I know a thing or two about those particular sects. I have also read quite a bit about Islam and Sufism, and I’ll eventually be taking formal classes on both of them. I’m pretty confident that I know more than the average Joe about said religions.

cbloom8's avatar

I’d say that I’m pretty knowledgeable about atheism. There is still a decent amount to know about the religion, although not as much as any normal religion.

When it comes to other religions, I don’t think most people in the US are very knowledgeable about their religion. I’ve heard about oddities within Christianity that I doubt most Christians know. (I may be mistaken.) I think most participants of western religion know a good amount, but there are still things the average person doesn’t know.

mattbrowne's avatar

Quite knowledgeable. I’m religious, but not very religious. I’m also trying to become more knowledgeable about atheism, as well as other religions and belief systems. My main interests in life are science and fields like psychology.

In my opinion if people want to be knowledgeable about Christianity, it’s not enough to read the Bible or try to memorize it. Equally important is engaging in discussions and reading biographies or material written by notable Christians like St. Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Joan of Arc, Søren Kierkegaard, Albert Schweizer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Karl Barth, Desmond Tutu, Christian Fuehrer or Hans Kueng.

DrMC's avatar

All faiths must eventually reconcile with my avatar

CMaz's avatar

Very knowledgeable. :-)

DrMC's avatar

I’ve concluded that I am ignorant

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@candide I am an atheist and don’t believe in organized religion – but I am quite knowledgeable about the Abrahamic faiths and many others of the world.

candide's avatar

good for you; it is a good quality to be well-read and well-informed and many should follow this example

Berserker's avatar

My family is Catholic, but I’ve never practiced it or taken it seriously, nor have I bothered much to learn anything about it beyond Final Fantasy Tactics and old vampire stories from the 1800’s.

So I can’t really say if religious people know about it or what, I’m guessing some do, some don’t. Whether people know their religious history or not though, it’s obviously an important part of their lives.

Aster's avatar

I would never say I’m that knowledgeable about Christianity. I do know that, for me, when I ‘get in the groove of it all’ Strange and Wondrous things happen that are too “other worldly” and personal to type out on this website. It is wonderful and comforting to know that a person can, in a sense, leave this plain and enter into another one but not be able to explain it. It just feels beautiful. And if a person could just Stay in that realm then, yes, it could easily his life. But we far short. We step back into day to day living and thinking and we lose the Supernatural life. That is a huge loss. I’m the world’s worst.
I do not believe that to be a Christian one must read the entire Bible. Many people know how they should live without doing that. But I never believed for one second that the Bible ‘comes alive’ only after you Believe. It really works like that! But I cannot explain how it happens. These things can infuriate non-Christians; especially the intellectuals.
If you can’t explain what you’re talking about, can’t prove what happens to you and wait: why you? they can become so angry! My ex, who floats from atheist to agnostic like the seasons, would go ballistic when he’d hear any sort of Christian-related remark. His face would turn red , his fists would clench and I’d think, “well, I’m glad I’m not like that at least.” He is always asking questions of Christians, most they just can’t answer. So he feels , “if he can’t answer a ‘simple’ question like that, I know the whole thing is a Fairy Tale.”
Regardless of his strong influence on people, both of his children are seeking God. They attend church, have Christians as close friends and I assume most of them could not answer the questions on here to the flutherers’ satisfaction either. You cannot Make someone believe as you do. You cannot Make a person be religious or atheistic. I just hope that my friends find peace for themselves; more than I’ve found!
@ChazMaz Very valuable posts.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aster Well, I’ll gladly tell you that as an atheist and an intellectual, I have peace.

meagan's avatar

I know enough to know that I really won’t go to hell for my tattoo.

tigress3681's avatar

I think that most Christians think that the history of The Bible is something along the lines of God inspired people to write specific things. Those people wrote exactly those specific things. Someone put those things and only those things in a bound book and distributed them to the masses. And this must be correct because God would not permit it to be any other way.

This deeply saddens me. Maybe there is a certain amount of divine inspiration, maybe they were simply doped up, there is no way to know for sure. One thing for sure, people are imperfect. If they are given an inspiration by God, there is no way for them to take the information in exactly right, then articulate it exactly right, and write it exactly right. God may be speaking but the words are not verbatim. Inspiration is not the same as dictation.

The gist of the story is that humans wrote letters to each other with insight into the nature of God and Jesus (be they the same or different entities), I might assume this is where the inspiration comes from. Other people kept those letters and eventually a roman Emperor named Constantine commissioned the creation of a collection of works about God and Jesus. He ordered monks (aka people) them to sift through the various documents and make a book that later became The Bible.

As with any political situation, people that work for a political leader try to please said leader. These monks picked letters that pleased Constantine and just so happened to be well equipped at controlling the masses. Interestingly enough, they did not include texts that encourage readers to seek answers within themselves.

Perhaps, searching within themselves is akin to free thought, and free thought is akin to rebellion?

lillycoyote's avatar

Yes, mostly because I belong to a church/religion that only has one member, me, so I am the leading authority, the most learned scholar and the most knowledgeable authority on my religion. :-)

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