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Atheists and agnostics may not believe in God or gods but they know a thing or two about them, according to a survey of religious knowledge among Americans released on Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
"On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 ... Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers," Pew said. It found Protestants answered 16 correctly and Catholics on average 14.7.
"While previous surveys by the Pew Research Center have shown that America is among the most religious of the world's developed nations, this survey shows that large numbers of Americans are not well informed about the tenets, practices, history and leading figures of major faith traditions -- including their own," said Pew, which is based in Washington.
Highlights of the survey include:
- More than four-in-10 Catholics do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion actually become the body and blood of Jesus.
Roman Catholic and Orthodox theologians reported promising progress on Friday in talks on overcoming their Great Schism of 1054 and bringing the two largest denominations in Christianity back to full communion. Experts meeting in Vienna this week agreed the two could eventually become "sister churches" that recognize the Roman pope as their titular head but retain many church structures, liturgy and customs that developed over the past millennium. (Photo: Metropolitan John Zizioulas (L) and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn in Vienna, 24 Sept 2010/Leonhard Foeger)
The delegation heads for the international commission for Catholic-Orthodox dialogue stressed that unity was still far off, but their upbeat report reflected growing cooperation between Rome and the Orthodox churches traditionally centred in Russia, Greece, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
(Photo: The Church of the Holy Cross, an Armenian church on Akdamar Island in Lake Van, September 19, 2010/Umit Bektas)
The first Armenian Orthodox ceremony in nearly a century at a church in eastern Turkey was overshadowed on Sunday by a partial Armenian boycott because of the Turkish authorities' refusal to place a cross on the roof of the building.
Nearly a thousand Armenian Orthodox worshippers out of the expected 5,000 people attended the service at the Church of the Holy Cross, which the government has hailed as a sign of growing religious tolerance -- see here and here -- in the predominantly Muslim country, which is a European Union candidate.
If you're a teacher in Germany and are unsure whether to allow your Muslim pupils to pray at school, to skip swimming lessons or wear the veil, you may want to consult a new handbook aimed at dealing with the sometimes tricky task of reconciling Muslim practices with German schooling.
Berlin's Ministry for Education, Science and Research has just published a guide called "Islam and School" giving practical advice on how to resolve these issues and encourage "people to live together respectfully and peacefully", which you can find in German here.
(Photo: Queen Elizabeth and Pope Benedict in Edinburgh, 16 Sept 2010/Dave Thompson)
Pope Benedict and Queen Elizabeth delivered short speeches in Edinburgh at the start of the pontiff's four-day visit to Britain. Here are excerpts from their comments:
Pope Benedict: "...The name of Holyroodhouse, Your Majesty’s official residence in Scotland, recalls the "Holy Cross" and points to the deep Christian roots that are still present in every layer of British life. The monarchs of England and Scotland have been Christians from very early times and include outstanding saints like Edward the Confessor and Margaret of Scotland .... the Christian message has been an integral part of the language, thought and culture of the peoples of these islands for more than a thousand years...
The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Aref Ali Nayed is Director, Kalam Research & Media, Dubai.
By Aref Ali Nayed
Years ago, in Toronto, I read on the concrete walls of a highway bridge the following bold and sacrilegious message: “God is dead! Signed: Nietzsche,” and under it “Nietzsche is dead! Signed: God!”
Religious tensions are overshadowing the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States where President Barack Obama urged a Christian preacher to abandon a plan to burn copies of the Koran.
And a day ahead of Saturday's ninth anniversary, a report warned that the United States faced a growing threat from home-grown insurgents and an "Americanization" of the al Qaeda leadership.
Synagogue Dues Don't Raise More Money Than Church Gifts By Josh Nathan-Kazis
Which costs more: belonging to a synagogue, or belonging to a church?
A survey conducted by the Forward has found that Jewish and Christian religious institutions appear to raise about the same amount per member, despite the fact that church giving is voluntary and synagogues charge membership dues.
U.S. religious leaders have condemned an "anti-Muslim frenzy" in the United States, including plans by a Florida church to burn a Koran on September 11, an act a top general said could endanger American troops abroad. Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders denounced the "misinformation and outright bigotry" against U.S. Muslims resulting from plans to build a Muslim community center and mosque not far from the site of the September 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks in New York by Islamist militants. The Vatican has also condemned the Koran burning plan. (Photo: Indonesian Care for Pluralism Movement protests against Koran burning plan, Jakarta, 8 Sept 2010/Crack Palinggi)
Tensions have risen with the approach of both the September 11 anniversary on Saturday and the Muslim Eid al-Fitr festival that marks the close of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is expected to end around Friday. Passions have been further inflamed by Terry Jones, the pastor of a 30-person church in Gainesville, Florida, who has announced plans to burn a Koran on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Jones says he wants to "expose Islam (as a) violent and oppressive religion."
(Photo: Screengrab from TV3 commercial on YouTube)
A Malaysian television station has axed a commercial for an important Muslim holiday after viewers complained that it looked more like a promotion for Christmas. State-linked TV3 aired the commercial earlier this month to wish the country's dominant ethnic Malay-Muslims a joyous Eid al-Fitr, which is likely to fall on Friday and marks the end of a month-long Ramadan fast.
The advert shows an avuncular white-haired man taking children to a fantasy land aboard a flying trishaw, drawing complaints from Muslim viewers that it resembled Santa Claus and his sleigh. TV3's news anchors apologised on Sunday's prime time news broadcast, saying the station had stopped airing the clip -- which stirred a storm on the Malaysian blogosphere with numerous postings lambasting what was seen as an insenstive move by a government-linked company. TV3 officials could not be reached for comment.