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This document is a brief summary of the Bible Literacy Report. For the complete report use the links below.
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Download the Complete Report
             

Bible Literacy Report I: What do American teens know and need to knowBible Literacy Report:
Executive Summary

What do American teens need to know and what do they know?

 

Biblical Terms Students Need to Know
(as reported by high school English teachers)

Ten Commandments
Cain and Abel
Garden of Eden
Genesis
Moses
Adam and Eve
David and Goliath
Last Supper
Noah and the flood
Old Testament
Crucifixion
Job
Do to others as you would have them do to you
Judas Iscariot
Good Samaritan
Eye for an eye
Let there be light
Exodus
Apocalypse
Prodigal Son
Olive branch
Noahࡲk
Am I my brother૥eper?
Fall of Man
Pontius Pilate
Walking on water
Original sin
Tower of Babel
Judgment Day
Messiah
Cast the first stone
Sodom and Gomorrah
Armageddon
Twenty-third Psalm
Promised Land
Abraham and Isaac
Serpent
Lordвayer
Magi
Jonah and the whale
Apostles, The Twelve
Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar좲> Resurrection
Jacob and Esau

What do American students know about the Bible, and what do they need to know in order to get a good education?

This research project consists of two parts:

  1. a qualitative research study of what the best high-school English teachers think their students need to know about the Bible and
  2. the only recent nationally representative survey of American teens⥬igious knowledge to uncover what American students currently know about the Bible (and other religious texts).

Qualitative Research Findings

In a diverse sample of high school English teachers in 10 states, 40 out of 41 teachers said Bible knowledge gives students a distinct educational advantage. Ninety percent of high-school English teachers said it was important for both college-bound and 姵lar튉 students to be biblically literate. An Illinois teacher stated, നink from the standpoint of academic success, it is imperative that college-bound students be literate. For the others, I think it੭portant for them to understand their own culture, just to be well-grounded citizens of the United Statesnow where the institutions and ideas come from.Ⲿ
Conversely, many teachers reported that students in their English classes who were not familiar with the Bible were disadvantaged. One California teacher said: 䵤ents who don૮ow the Bible are certainly at a disadvantage. Itਡrder for them. They堮ot as familiar with it, and it takes more time for them to understand what it is.䥡chers reported students without Bible knowledge take more time to teach, appearing ﮦused,㳴umped,㣬ueless.Ⲿ
These English teachers reported that among their students, Bible illiteracy is common. The majority of high-school English teachers surveyed estimated that fewer than a fourth of their current students were Bible literate. Only 4 of the 30 public schools in the study (compared to all four private schools) offered a unit or course about the Bible. Economically advantaged school districts in this sample were far more likely to offer academic study of the Bible than less advantaged districts.

Nationally Representative Gallup Survey: Bible Literacy Project Analysis

This Gallup Survey is based on a nationally representative sample of 1,002 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18, who were interviewed between May 20 and June 27, 2004. It represents the first extensive, nationally representative survey of the Bible and religious knowledge among American teens in recent years.

The good news is that strong majorities of American teens recognize the basic meaning of widely used Judeo-Christian terms such as ᳴er,つam and Eve,튉 ﳥs,㔨e Golden Rule,ᮤ 襠Good Samaritan.Ⲿ
However, substantial minorities lack even the most basic working knowledge of the Bible. Almost one out of ten teens believes that Moses is one of the twelve Apostles. About the same proportion, when asked what Easter commemorates, or to identify Adam and Eve, respond ﮒt know.Ⲿ
However, only a minority of American teens appear to be 颬e literate,⥡ching the level of knowledge similar to that defined by high school English teachers as necessary to a good education.

  • Fewer than half of teens (49 percent) knew what happened at the wedding at Cana (Jesus turned water into wine). Nearly one out of four refused even to guess.
  • Given a choice of four quotations from the Bible, almost two-thirds of teens could not correctly identify a quotation from the Sermon on the Mount.
  • Similarly, fewer than a third of teens could correctly identify which statement about David was true. (David tried to kill King Saul.) One-quarter of teens believed that the statement ᶩd was king of the Jews硳 false.
  • Only 8 percent of teens in public schools in this sample reported that their school offered an elective course on the Bible, and just one out of four public-school students (26 percent) said that a unit or section on the Bible was offered in an English or social-studies class.

The Bible Literacy Project analysis of the Gallup data concludes, ontroversy among adults, however heated, should be considered an excuse for leaving the next generation ignorant about a body of knowledge crucial to understanding American art, literature, history, language, and culture.ﰾ

* * * * *

 
 

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