Wednesday, April 30, 2008

US among most Bible-literate nations in the world

I first saw this at Leonardo's (who put up a slightly different teaser headline of his own. And managed to work Fr. Isaac Hecker into the equation too!). He was basing his post on this Reuters story about a survey conducted on Bible literacy as part of the preparations for the 2008 Synod of Bishops, which is dedicated to the Sacred Scriptures. This morning, Sandro Magister's column delves into the survey in more detail:
n view of the upcoming synod, the Catholic Biblical Federation has organized a survey in thirteen countries on "The reading of the Scriptures." The survey was conducted by GFK-Eurisko, and coordinated by professor Luca Diotallevi, a sociology teacher at Roma 3 University.

The first data, on nine of the thirteen countries examined, were presented on April 28 at the Vatican press office by Diotallevi, by bishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Catholic Biblical Federation, and by archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, a world-famous biblical scholar and president of the pontifical council for culture.

The data were obtained from 13,000 interviews conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Russia. They cover the entirety of the adult population. The data on Catholics alone will be published later.

The four countries in which the survey still continues are Argentina, South Africa, the Philippines, and Australia.
The results are quite varied: The US tends to be high in Bible ownership and in familiarity with the Scriptures, people praying regularly with the Bible. France tends to score the lowest, and therefore, could be considered to be the most "de-Christianized" (as Magister puts it)
But the Bible is not present and influential in all countries in the same way. The wave of secularization produces very different effects from region to region. In the United States and in Italy, these effects appear to be more contained than in other countries of Western Europe, among which France emerges as the most de-Christianized nation. And then there is Eastern Europe, with its own distinct cases of Poland and Russia. Each country, moreover, has its own religious history and profile.

For this reason, responses to the survey rarely coincide from country to country.
It will be interesting to read the survey report itself, once all the data are in: from the non-Western countries (Philippines, Argentina) as well as how Catholics fare when compared to the population as a whole.

Perhaps it's a good thing that Catholics weren't compared to, say, evangelical Christians as whole? :)

As for me, I had never even heard of the Catholic Biblical Federation!

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