Stevie said it best; “When you believe in things you don’t understand, then you suffer…” That’s why I believe religion, although a stalwart servant of the community once upon a time now is little more than a millstone around its neck.
The Bible is the one book most likely to be found in the home of African Americans. It is the world’s best selling book and African Americans seem to read it more than the rest of the country and among households which own a Bible, blacks are more than likely to have at least three.
Statistics for praying and reading the Bible vary widely as 94 percent of African Americans reported praying regularly compared to the national average of 77 percent and were twice as likely compared to other Americans to have read from the Bible in the past week. The national average for Bible readership is 31 percent. Research also showed that blacks are more likely to believe the Bible is totally accurate 64-41 percent compared to whites showing a considerable gap in those who believe the Bible to be
The key interest here is the number of people who have never read the Bible or the Koran and believe that either of these books might hold the answers to the worlds problem is akin to guessing the color of the sunset without seeing it or based on the sense of touch—it has no basis for any conclusion. When it comes to the Bible, most people, including regular church attendees are unaware of the raw sexuality, brutality or carnage of the Bible because those parts are normally overlooked or glossed over.
Almost every household, 92 percent, in America has a copy of the Bible, including the homes of atheists and agnostics.[ii] However, according to a Gallup poll, overall readership of the Bible has declined since the 1980s from 73 percent to 59 percent today while the same poll says that 65 percent of Americans say that the Bible "answers all or most of the basic questions of life." Interestingly, 28 percent of those who agreed with this said they rarely read the Bible or never read it.[iii] George Gallup Jr., son of the founder of the Gallup Organization said there is vast difference "between Americans stated faith and their lack of the most basic knowledge about that faith.” [iv] Americans ignorance of the Bible can be shown in that 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife and only 42 percent of adults know that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Jesus.[v]
The ubiquitous Bible is not only the best selling book in the world; it is also the most translated book in the world. It has been translated into more than 40 languages including Chinese and Braille. It decorates millions of coffee tables and bookshelves in the United State and often serves as a diary for family history. It populates courthouses and legislative digs where it is revered as talisman of truth. It is sworn on, used as a judicial prop and bumped on the heads of children during solemn events. It
comes in a variety of colors including red, white and blue with gold edged pages and even tabs. It ranges in size from small enough to fit in a pocket to large enough to require both hands to lift it.
However, the one thing that seems to be missing is that not everyone agrees with it, understands it or even actually reads it. As the numbers indicate, for many the Bible serves no other purpose than as a
conversation piece or political decoration. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the Bible is filled with glaring contradictions, bad science and numerous errors that will not go away no matter how sincere or fervent the belief. Still, even with the number of people who claim to read the Bible, these things seem to go unnoticed, except among Biblical scholars whose research rarely reaches the
regular reader of the Bible.
Interestingly, nearly all of the participants for this writing including nonbelievers and freethinkers claimed and demonstrated extensive knowledge of the Bible including its many contradictions and errors. Not only were they familiar with its contents, the majority possessed knowledge that extended well past the Bible and included the study of works by various theologians, sociologists and historians, as well as noted scientists, philosophers and humanists.
Education also has a direct influence on religious belief throughout the world, with the uneducated tending to have higher belief rates than those with advanced education. Of the nearly nine out of ten people who define themselves as Christians, seventy-two percent of Americans with a high
school education or less believed the Bible to be totally accurate while only 46 percent of Americans with postgraduate degrees felt the same.[vi] Nationally, less than half of all adults (41percent) believe the Bible is totally accurate in all it teaches.
One of the most remarkable and controversial aspects of Christianity insights into America's faith is the fact that less than half of all adults (40 percent) are convinced that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life
during his life on earth which is a direct contradiction of everything Christianity teaches about its namesake—Jesus.
Another interesting anomaly is that most Americans do not accept evangelism as a personal responsibility even though the call for personal evangelism stems from the Bible and its call to go forth unto all nations spreading the word of God. It is controversial because it often seems to be in conflict with individual privacy. Only one-third (32 percent) claim they have an obligation to share their religious faith with those who believe differently.[vii]
Reflecting the continued dominance of women in the church, research shows that women are twice as likely to read the Bible as men and that blacks are more likely to read the Bible than whites.[viii] Barna commented that the survey challenges some widely held assumptions. "Charismatic and Pentecostal churches are often characterized as attracting people who respond on the basis of emotions but who lack strong biblical training.”
The Bible and Slavery
Unfortunately, one of the most abominable chapters in the history of how the Bible has been used and interpreted involves the questions of race and slavery. Racial relations, especially between whites and blacks, have long been deplorable in the United States. They started out badly, got worse before they got better, and are nevertheless still poor with slim prospects of improving a great deal any time soon. Although Christians will be loath to admit it, their religion shares a significant part of the blame for this situation.
When speaking of slavery and the Bible, the first and most obvious thing to remember is that there is no specific condemnation of slavery to be found anywhere in it. At no point does God or Jesus express even mild disapproval of enslaving human beings and robbing them of what freedom and independence they might have had. Instead, God is depicted as both approving of and regulating slavery, ensuring that the traffic and ownership of fellow human beings proceeded in an acceptable manner. In many cases, the regulations display an apparent disregard for the lives and dignity of enslaved individuals, hardly the sort of thing one would expect from a loving God.
As a side note, it should be observed that the King James Version of the Bible replaces the word "slave" with "servant" and in this fashion is misleading Christians as to the intentions and desires of their God. The overwhelming majority of those that chose to debate don’t know that. Sad.
Research Online, The Bible, 1993,
[iii] The Gallup
Organization, Six in Ten Americans Read Bible at Least Occasionally, Alec
Gallup and Wendy W. Simmons, 2000,
[iv] The Washington
Post National Weekly Edition, The Church
of Public Opinion,
Richard Morin, November
Beliefs Vary Widely By Denomination, June 25, 2000, http://www.barna.org/CGI-BIN/PagePressRelease.asp?PressReleaseID=92...
Research Online, Women Are the Backbone of the Christian Congregations in America, 2000, http://184.108.40.206/cgi-bin/PagePressRelease.asp?PressReleaseID=4...