Britain 'knows little about Bible'
Monday 29 June 2009
The public is widely ignorant of the stories and people who provide the basis of Christianity, a survey has found, despite 75 per cent of respondents owning a copy of the Bible.
The National Biblical Literacy Survey found that as few as 10 per cent of people understood the main characters in the Bible and their relevance.
Figures such as Abraham and Joseph were a source of puzzlement and it was rare to find anyone who could name the Ten Commandments.
Many stories considered to be central to the Christian message were a mystery to most. As few as 7 per cent of respondents knew the story of Whitsun and only 15 per cent were familiar with the stories associated with Advent.
St John's College Durham in Durham carried out the survey and released preliminary findings yesterday. The full report is expected to be published in July.
Researchers found that 57 per cent of people knew nothing about Joseph or his brothers despite the hit musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and 60 per cent were ignorant of the story of the Good Samaritan.
The Reverend David Wilkinson, from St John's, said the consequences of ignorance went far beyond being unclear about what church leaders might preach. He said a good grounding in the stories and characters of the Bible was essential to understanding history and culture because so much of art, music and literature was bound up with religious themes.
"There are depths to many pieces of music, many of Shakespeare's plays, particular pieces of art that draw from the imagery, the stories, the language of the Bible," Dr Wilkinson told the BBC.
The Reverend Brian Brown, a Methodist preacher and visiting lecturer at St John's, said he was startled by the lack of knowledge and understanding among people questioned, despite a third of them saying that the Bible was important to them.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Germanwings Q&A: Why would the cockpit door have been locked and would there have been no way to get in?
- 2 Andreas Lubitz: Who is Germanwings co-pilot who 'locked out captain and crashed flight 9525'?
- 3 JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
- 4 Germanwings crash: Descent may have been 'deliberate, suicidal choice' by pilot, claims experts
- 5 Woman held in psychiatric ward after (correctly) saying Obama follows her on Twitter
Jeremy Clarkson to host BBC's Have I Got News For You despite Top Gear exit
Jeremy Clarkson says it 'isn't hard' to create another Top Gear
Mark Gatiss on playing 'prince of darkness' Peter Mandelson in Channel 4's Coalition
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Zayn Malik quits 1D: One Direction fans compare Perrie Edwards to Yoko Ono
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Council tenant wins right not to be sent to Milton Keynes