I was very close to a woman who had been superintendent of a Methodist Episcopal church long ago, and knew that she read the Bible with total respect. She was proud of a statue of St. Francis in her garden, and taken aback when a fundamentalist Baptist neighbor denounced it. “What’s wrong with you,” the lady said, “don’t you know St. Francis is in the Bible?” Her neighbor did not question that, but still thought it was being misused by the papists.
Those two women came to mind when I read about a new poll, which disclosed a lack of religious expertise in today’s population. People by the hundreds of millions hear the Bible quoted in sermons and novels, and even read it once in a while. Who knows how many of them expect to find the Gospel of St. Francis in there somewhere? The poll probably has its facts right, without taking note of folks who identify with principles of the Bible, even though they are as confused about chapter and verse as they are about geometry. They believe in math and religion, but would flunk a test in either.
Interest in how many religious facts are understood by believers is already being shoved aside by a new report on human sexuality.