Religious Illiteracy: The Consequences of Ignorance

This week on Inspired:


An Evangelist for Religious Literacy

We talk to Ben Marcus, who shares his unusual religious upbringing ‑ he had both a bar mitzvah and First Communion. Now he travels the country advocating for religious literacy on behalf of The Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute, a non-partisan Washington, D.C.-based non-profit. Marcus believes that the traditional way of describing a religious person, as someone who holds a certain set of beliefs, is often inadequate. He argues for a more nuanced understanding of religiosity, which includes both religious belief and behavior. He says he promotes religious literacy as a counter to bigotry and the violence that it can fuel.

Ben Marcus, religious literacy specialist, The Religious Freedom Center


How the Media Shapes What We Think About Religious Groups

After 9/11, Erik Bleich began to think that media coverage of Muslims skewed negatively. As a political science professor at Middlebury College, his studies have shown that his hunch was correct. But why did the coverage turn out this way, and how did it connect with Americans views of Muslims? Bleich also had questions about the coverage of other religious groups. He explains his recently released findings on religious minorities, and how even a story that seems to reflect well on a particular group may in the long run leave readers with what Bleich calls a negative “residual” feeling about its members.

Erik Bleich, political science professor at Middlebury College and director of the Media Portrayals of Minorities Project


When Islam Is Not A Religion

Asma Uddin is an attorney and legal scholar who has worked alongside conservative Christians on some of the most important religious liberty cases of the past decade, including Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. In recent years, Uddin had heard the anti-Muslim claim that Islam is not actually a religion, and therefore undeserving of First Amendment protections. At first, she dismissed the argument as fringe, but then watched it proliferate in the legal arena. Her response is her new book, “When Islam Is Not A Religion,” in which she explains why the charge threatens all Americans’ religious rights.

Asma Uddin, attorney, legal scholar and author of When Islam Is Not A Religion


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