The sociologist Peter Berger once remarked that if India is the most religious country in the world and Sweden the least, then the United States is a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes. Not anymore. With a Jesus lover in the Oval Office and a faith-based party in control of both houses of Congress, the United States is undeniably a nation of believers ruled by the same.
Things are different in Europe, and not just in Sweden. The Dutch are four times less likely than Americans to believe in miracles, hell and biblical inerrancy. The euro does not trust in God. But here is the paradox: Although Americans are far more religious than Europeans, they know far less about religion.
In Europe, religious education is the rule from the elementary grades on. So Austrians, Norwegians and the Irish can tell you about the Seven Deadly Sins or the Five Pillars of Islam. But, according to a 1997 poll, only one out of three U.S. citizens is able to name the most basic of Christian texts, the four Gospels, and 12% think Noah's wife was Joan of Arc.
That paints a picture of a nation that believes God speaks in Scripture but that can't be bothered to read what he has to say.
Substitute American religious fundamentalists with our own home-grown Kuwaiti versions, and you'll see the parallels are frighteningly similar! I admit I laughed out loud at the Joan of Arc reference..
Anyway, chew on this post while I'm away for the Eid... and عيدكم مبارك
This time I'll post some pictures when I get back!
*By Stephen Prothero, Boston University, author of "American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon"