Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Ignorance a Growing Problem

ROME, APRIL 24, 2007 (Zenit) - Religious ignorance, even of the most basic concepts, is on the rise according to some recent studies. In Ireland, once renowned for its Catholicity, a poll revealed that 95% of adolescents could not name the First Commandment.

The poll was carried out on a nationally representative sample of 950 people, by Lansdowne Market Research, for the Iona Institute and the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland. Information on the poll was released by the Iona Institute on April 9.

The results showed that knowledge of Christianity is highest among those over 65 and lowest among those in the 15-24 age group. For example, 77% of the over-65 group could name the authors of the four Gospels, but only 52% of those 15-24 could.

When it came to naming the three persons of the Holy Trinity, 76% of those over 65 got it right, but this dropped to 47% among those aged 15 to 24. Asked how many sacraments there are in the Catholic Church, 63% of the over-65 group correctly answered 7, but only 38% of the 15- to 24-year-olds got it right.

"Some knowledge of Christianity should be part of general knowledge because Ireland has such a deep Christian heritage," commented David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute in the April 9 press release.

"From a Church point of view, there is obviously a correlation between knowledge of the faith, and practice of the faith," he added.

The poll results sparked off a debate over what to do about religious education. John Carr of the Irish National Teachers Organization called for an overhaul of the religious education system, and the introduction of an instruction in specific faiths, reported the Irish Times newspaper April 14.

The article also reported that Brendan O'Reilly, national director of catechetics for the Church, admitted that the current religious education programs, which date back to the 1970s, are in need of review. He said they are working on a new syllabus, due to be completed in about 18 months.

According to another report also published in April, this time in England, one-third of the adult population has no contact with any church, apart from baptisms, weddings and funerals. "Churchgoing in the U.K." was published by Tearfund, an agency working in the field of relief and development. The organization works in partnership with Christian churches.

Half Christian

The report is based on a representative poll of 7,000 adults. In general the report found a split between personal belief and involvement in a church. Many Britons declare themselves Christians, and high percentages of people say they pray with some degree of regularity. Yet, this does not translate into a regular religious practice in terms of participating in a church.

Among the highlights are the following points.

-- Christianity is the predominant faith in the United Kingdom with 53% of adults claiming to be Christian. Other faiths account for 6%, and 39% claim to have no religion.

-- Figures for those who actively practice are lower, with 7.6 million, 15% of the adult population, attending church monthly. This includes 4.9 million who go weekly. If what the report terms "fringe and occasional churchgoers" -- 5 million adults -- are added, then 26% of adults in the United Kingdom go to church at least once a year.

-- On a regional level, among those who attend on at least a monthly basis Northern Ireland had the highest level of regular churchgoers, at 45% of adults. Then there is a big drop to the next-highest, Scotland, coming in at 18%. England follows, with 14% and Wales is last, with 12%.

-- In England, the city of London stands out, with 20% of the adult population being regular churchgoers.

-- Two-thirds of adults in the United Kingdom, 32.2 million people, have no connection with church at present, or with another religion. This group is evenly divided between those who have been in the past but have since left -- 16 million -- and those who have never been in their lives -- 16.2 million.

"This secular majority presents a major challenge to churches," the report comments. Of this group the study found that the great majority, 29.3 million, "are unreceptive and closed to attending church; churchgoing is simply not on their agenda."

This challenge is also set to increase over time. Older people are more likely to belong to the Christian faith. Three-fourths of those 65-74, and 82% of those over 75 are Christians, compared with an average 53%. Only one-third of those 16-34 are Christian, and for those aged under 45 the nonreligious outnumber Christians. Regular churchgoing plummets to only 10% of those 16-24.

The report did, however, reveal that there are opportunities for the churches, if only they can work out how to reach those who are open to participating. Based on the poll results, among adults who have no experience of church attendance, there are 600,000 who are open to going in future. While of the group who have left a church there is a sizable number, 2.3 million, who are also prepared to return in the future.

Faith formation

The United States also came in for a critical look at the state of religion with the publication in March of the book "Religious Literacy" by Boston University professor Stephen Prothero. In general, he says, Americans have a higher level of church attendance than in other Western countries. Nevertheless, they do not fare so well when it comes to religious knowledge.

The book cites a number of polls and other material revealing similar findings to those discovered in Ireland. Thus, while 20 million bibles a year are sold in the United States, many people are unable to name the authors of the Gospels or one of the apostles.

Similarly, they run into difficulties when asked to list at least five of the Ten Commandments. Ignorance is even more prevalent when people are asked about any of the non-Christian religions.

Prothero warns that religious illiteracy is more dangerous than other forms of ignorance, given religion's important role in culture and as a force in the world. Whether we want to understand the past, or contemporary debates ranging from bioethics to foreign policy, we need to have some knowledge of religion.

Religion, Prothero argues, will be one of the "key identity markers," of the 21st century. In a nutshell: You need religious literacy in order to be an effective citizen.

When it comes to identifying the causes of religious illiteracy, Prothero attributes it to a variety of causes. In academic circles, the culture tends to be persistently skeptical of religion, so both textbooks and classes tend to ignore religion, thus leaving students ignorant of religion's role.

Churches too have played a part. Religious education in recent decades in many of the Christian denominations has left a lot to be desired, favoring the touchy-feely over imparting a solid knowledge of the Bible and doctrine. Parents also come in for criticism from Prothero, for not instructing their children sufficiently in religion.

One of the ways to overcome religious illiteracy, Prothero recommends, is to focus on secondary schools and colleges. Teaching religion in public schools should not be seen as breaching the Church-state divide. This teaching would be of a civic, not moral, nature, in order to ensure a basic education in Christianity and major world religions.

For those who have already finished school, then he urges them to see the attainment of religious knowledge both as a personal challenge and a civic duty. Recommendations that one can only hope will not fall on deaf ears.

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Religion, Illiteracy, Ignorance, Catholic, Christianity

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 250 of 4,719

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Priestly Identity: Crisis and Renewal (Part 1)
Catholic Online

Al Qaeda...afraid of Benedict's message!
Hugh McNichol

Benedict XVI...calling all to hope...
Hugh McNichol

Perfect Women
Cheryl Dickow

Papal Palm Sunday Address - 'Enough With the Bloodshed'
Catholic Online

Spotlight on China
Catholic Online

Papal Homily for Palm Sunday
Catholic Online

Holy Week...Holy Time!
Hugh McNichol

Mary and Motherhood
Cheryl Dickow

The Void
Paul Sposite

Islamic violence wounds the global community!
Hugh McNichol

The Seven New Deadly Sins!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic benefits include Catholic principles!
Hugh McNichol

Remembering Father Alfred Kunz
Matt C. Abbott

David vs Goliath
Theresa Lisiecki

Happy Lent!
Paul Sposite

Diplomacy...Vatican style!
Hugh McNichol

Sub umbra Petri! (Under the Shadow of Saint Peter)
Hugh McNichol

Cuba...a neonascent Church!
Hugh McNichol

Kids in Conflict
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Writings of St. Augustine
Catholic Online

The Relevance of Lourdes at 150
Catholic Online

Hillary...what would Saint Norbert say!
Hugh McNichol

Lent...questions, answers and involvement!
Hugh McNichol

Mary, Mother of all Humanity, Hic et Nunc!
Hugh McNichol

Catholics...WAKE UP!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic Brotherhood with the People of the Covenant
Hugh McNichol

Have mercy on us O Lord! - Ash Wednesday
Hugh McNichol

Vote early, vote Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Christ, our global Alpha and Omega!
Hugh McNichol

Being Catholic means...total affirmation of being Catholic!
Hugh McNichol

Seeing the World through New Eyes
Sarah Reinhard

Emulating the Angelic Doctor!
Hugh McNichol

Priests defend, commend Archbishop Raymond Burke
Matt C. Abbott

Saint Paul...a continued example of radical conversion!
Hugh McNichol

A renaissance of faith, reason and global cooperation....
Hugh McNichol

Cardinal Rigali's Homily at Life Vigil
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Silencing the Pope
Catholic Online

Papal Homily on Feast of Christ's Baptism
Catholic Online

Education and Gender
Catholic Online

The ignominy of Roe vs. Wade
Hugh McNichol

Papal Message for World Day of the Sick
Catholic Online

Angelus: On Christian Unity
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza
Catholic Online

Pope's Letter to Jesuits' 35th General Congregation
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - Behold, the Lamb of God!
Catholic Online

That We May Be One, and Never Lose Heart
Catholic Online

Sowing Hope in Sierra Leone
Catholic Online

God-incidences are the gift of kairos moments
Mary Regina Morrell

St. Augustine's Last Days
Catholic Online

Liturgy: When There's a Medical Emergency
Catholic Online

Marriage and Celibacy: Love's Link
Catholic Online

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Rooms in My Father's House
Cheryl Dickow

Resolutions for New Year 2008
Chris Anthony

Keep teaching Holy Father!!!
Hugh McNichol

Dangers of anti-Catholic academic extremism....
Hugh McNichol

The liturgy war
Matt C. Abbott

Some Answers to a Few Common Questions about Vocations
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Developing a Global Catholic Awareness
Hugh McNichol

Christmas reflections
Chris Anthony

The Lasting Contribution of The Servant of God Pope John Paul II
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

No more bobble-head Jesus'!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Baptist World Alliance
Catholic Online

The Virgin Without Sin
Catholic Online

Cardinal Vingt-Trois on His New Mission
Catholic Online

Archbishop Forte on Religion & Freedom: Part 1
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Chromatius of Aquileia, Pope, Benedict
Catholic Online

Pope's Address for Consistory of Cardinals
Catholic Online

Trafficking in Lives
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict - On Hope
Catholic Online

The Hidden Costs of Gambling
Catholic Online

A Vital, Life-Giving Message
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Christianity's Contribution
Catholic Online

Youth and Fashion's Modest Twist
Catholic Online

Papal Homily at the Consistory
Catholic Online

Love, Marriage and Happy Kids
Catholic Online

The Virtue of Obedience: Our Duty, Our Crown
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Vere dignum et justum est!
Hugh McNichol

Pope's Address to Bishops of Kenya
Catholic Online

Democracy in Danger in Venezuela
Catholic Online

The Life-Sapping Human Virus
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Sacred Time...Come Lord Jesus!
Hugh McNichol

How Christ-like are we in our lives?
Chris Anthony

A Retreat for Today's Christian Woman
Cheryl Dickow

Pope Benedict - On Trust in God
Catholic Online

God and Caesar Seen From Down Under
Catholic Online

Praying the Luminous Mysteries for our Clergy
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Culture's Pressure on Our Girls
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

Papal Message on the Common Good
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - St. Jerome on the Bible
Catholic Online

What Every Parent Should Know About 'The Golden Compass'
Catholic Online

Cardinal Poupard on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

A Richer Liturgical Translation: Interview With Bishop Roche
Catholic Online

U.S. Bishops' Statement on War in Iraq
Catholic Online

The 'Golden Compass' is no treasure for children
Mary Regina Morrell

Bishop Skylstad's Address to U.S. Bishops' Fall Meeting
Catholic Online

Rewarding Failure
Catholic Online

On St. Martin of Tours
Catholic Online

Undermining Parents
Catholic Online

God...our theological E.F.Hutton!
Hugh McNichol

The Secular Vs. Religion?
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Jerome
Catholic Online

The Scourge of Poverty
Catholic Online

Sons and Daughters of God...EQUALLY!
Hugh McNichol

On Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Catholic Online

Why Dads Matter
Catholic Online

Archbishop Chaput on Citizenship and Evangelization
Catholic Online

God Created Man for Life, Not Death
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for November
Catholic Online

Imposing 'Tolerance'
Catholic Online

A Turn to the Fathers: Interview With Father Robert Dodaro
Catholic Online

Evangelizing a Digital World
Catholic Online

Women Religious on Human Trafficking
Catholic Online

John Crosby on Von Hildebrand's Understanding of the Person
Catholic Online

Chicago law firm fights for civil rights, against death culture
Matt C. Abbott

On the Call to Martyrdom
Catholic Online

Media Benefits and Dangers
Catholic Online

Fr. Cantalamessa - The Pharisee and the Publican
Catholic Online

Aborting Viable Lives
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Ambrose of Milan
Catholic Online

'You Alone Are The Lord': A Brief Summary of Catholic Teaching
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Prostitution: Legal Work or Slavery?
Catholic Online

Address of Holy See on Religious Liberty
Catholic Online

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on 'Populorum Progressio'
Catholic Online

Escaping Poverty: Interview With Archbishop Silvano Tomasi
Catholic Online

Christ's Parable About the Need to Pray Always
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On St. Eusebius of Vercelli
Catholic Online

Recovering subtle signs of our Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

On Peace, Missions and Justice
Catholic Online

Congratulations to His Eminence John Cardinal Foley!
Hugh McNichol

Giving Ourselves Completely to Mary
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

The 'Courage' to go 'Beyond Gay'
Matt C. Abbott

When Bioethics Turned Secular
Catholic Online

Confession Comeback
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Hilary of Poitiers
Catholic Online

Reemergence of Global Catholic Identity!
Hugh McNichol

Father Cantalamessa on the Leap of Faith
Catholic Online

Month of the Rosary
Catholic Online

Why Technology Needs Ethics
Catholic Online

Cardinal Lozano Barragán on Future of Health Care
Catholic Online

How Can Catholics Understand Mary as Co-Redemprix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate?
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

New Saint Book is Visually Stunning and Filled with Detail
Lisa M. Hendey

Papal Homily in Velletri
Catholic Online

Wednesday'a Audience - On St. Cyril of Alexandria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa Analyzes Relationship
Catholic Online

Holy See Address to U.N. General Assembly
Catholic Online

Homily From Red Mass in Washington
Catholic Online

Pope Remembers Cardinal Van Thuân
Catholic Online

The brave monks of Myanmar
Chris Anthony

Faith in Politics
Catholic Online

On Lazarus and World Hunger
Catholic Online

Fighting the Good Fight: Resisting Temptation
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Media frenzy buries U.N. goals

Holy See Statement on Climate Change
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On Chrysostom's Social Doctrine
Catholic Online

China's Seven Sorrows
Catholic Online

Vatican Message to Muslims for Ramadan
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the First World and Lazarus
Catholic Online

Angels, God's Messengers in a world of fragile peace and Broken promises!
Hugh McNichol

Memo to Mrs. Clinton: Why Not Baby Bonds When Life Begins?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Reorienting the Mass
Catholic Online

Report Card on Religious Freedom
Catholic Online

On Wealth and Poverty
Catholic Online

A Response to Hitchens' 'God Is Not Great'
Catholic Online

Vetoing children's health care?

The ideal family
Joseph Sinasac

Who does the judging?
Dennis Heaney

One mistake away

The Big House ban

In praise of the parish

Text of the USCCB statement for Respect Life Sunday 2007

The Outstanding Purity of Our Blessed Mother
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan

Educated flock

Religion and politics

Facing a door to the future
Dennis Heaney

A long debate

Who Are the True Progressives?
Deacon Keith Fournier

Petraeus offers a dose of reality

Insurgence
Robert Storr

Papal Address at Vespers
Catholic Online

Papal Coat of Arms Still Relevant
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Address at Heiligenkreuz Abbey
Catholic Online

On Loving Jesus as Mary Did
Catholic Online

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on 'Summorum Pontificum'
Catholic Online

Wednesday's Audience - On the Trip to Austria
Catholic Online

Father Cantalamessa on the Joy of Fatherhood
Catholic Online

Commentary on Artificial Hydration and Nutrition
Catholic Online

Vatican on Nutrition to Patients in Vegetative State
Catholic Online

Benedict XVI's Q-and-A Session With Youth in Loreto
Catholic Online

Take a Risk, Follow Your Call: the challenge of a lifetime!
Sisters of Bon Secours

Papal lessons

Family matters

Lessons from a tragedy
Dennis Heaney

Shopping blues
Joseph Sinasac

Marriage Breakdown: Expensive and Divisive
Catholic Online

Her darkness was a warning

The Light of Mother Teresa's Darkness - Part 2
Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Fatima Prayer HD Video
  • Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May: A Day to Celebrate Heritage and History
  • St. Hilary of Arles: Saint of the Day for Thursday, May 05, 2016
  • The Feast of the Ascension is the Portal to Eternity
  • St. Mary Magdalene HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, May 05, 2016
  • Top 10 mothers from the Bible

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 1:1-11
1 In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
2 For Yahweh, the Most High, is glorious, the great king over all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:46-53
46 and he said to them, 'So it is written that the Christ would suffer ... Read More

Reading 2, Ephesians 1:17-23
17 May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 5th, 2016 Image

St. Hilary of Arles
May 5: Bishop of Arles, France, and friend and relative ... Read More