Seems there was recently a Pew Research Poll that made a few conclusions about who knows more about religions in general.
here for the Pew report.</a>
The NY Times reported on the poll, whereupon one of their opinionators decided to use it to show his ignorance of Christianity and religion in general, with his own question and answer list. While claiming he only wanted to show we should be “we should be wary of rushing to inflammatory conclusions about any faith, especially based on cherry-picking texts”, in fact his list could have come from one of the atheist web sites that do that very thing!
Many of his questions and answers from the Bible and about religion show ignorance, getting it wrong in many cases. In one or two instances he makes the same mistake even Christians make, such as thinking that the Bible advocates slavery on principle, which it does not. As the Pew survey purportedly showed, and I have seen this anyway, ven many Christians don’t know their Bibles, or they rely on false teaching or bad “translations” often made by graduates of the same institutions that produces NY Times journalism.
I don’t know the Koran very well and never read it, but I also never rushed to judgment based on the selections of negative quote selections. The Bible is so often abused that way, such as this opinionator did again, but there are plenty of clues in the real world.
The testimony of Mosab Hassan Yousef, in his book the Son of Hamas, sheds a lot of light on the subject. Born into the Islamic family of an imam in Palestine, who was also the co-founder of Hamas, he grew up engaging in what we call terrorism.
Mr. Yousef said that while he was in prison he evolved through a process that began when he saw how brutal his fellow Muslims were with each other. The one major factor he talks about involves the Bible he had his first opportunity to read, and he was amazed that the Bible said “Love thine enemy”! He had never heard of such a thing!
Now to teach Mr. Nicholas Kristof a bit about the Christ that apparently became his family name, in a twist..
1. Which holy book stipulates that a girl who does not bleed on her wedding night should be stoned to death?
a. Koran b. Old Testament c. (Hindu) Upanishads
I would more believe none of the above, but certainly the Old Testament does not. He says it is and points to Deuteronomy 22:21 as a reference! Maybe he didn’t even read it! It says if a man discovers on his wedding night that his wife is not a virgin, he has the option to bring her before the priests and the people and the woman should have a hearing before any determination is made.
Tthe old-timers knew a whole lot more about virginity than we do today, except for the subcategory of losing it. We know a lot about that nowadays, don’t we folks?
NOTE: There is almost no prescribed punishment in the Bible for letting such a transgression pass, the Old Testament included. The new husband that knew about it and married her anyway, or the one that discovered it and forgives her, nobody heard about it. In contrast there is also plenty of forgiveness in the Old Testament, not just the New. Bathsheba was never stoned. And you have the story of Joseph and Mary.
However, there are few countries around today that actually stone women for adultery, and guess what major religion they profess?
2. Which holy text declares: “Let there be no compulsion in religion”?
a. Koran b. Gospel of Matthew c. Letter of Paul to the Romans
He says this is in the Koran 2:256, but then he at least admits that the Koran DOES advocate coercion in other sections.
What he does not mention is that that Islam got its start through subterfuge and military conquest, beginning with Muhammed himself, and his earliest followers.
Contrast that with the fact that Jesus Christ offered himself up in death a living sacrifice, without spot or blemish, to free us from the burden of sin, with the Resurrection providing the proof that we are also thereby freed from death. Life and sacrifice was the fuel for the earliest spread of Christianity.
Note also that even in the laws of Moses, Israel was to treat “the stranger” with the same respect they expected for themselves, admonishing them to remember that they were also “strangers” in Egypt. Yes, that’s right, The Old Testament was where the idea of religious tolerance got started. The exceptions were for the vilest and most brutal practices of the pagan tribes of the Promised Land, their live infant sacrifices to “the fire”, the burning bellies of Molech, and the rampant violence throughout.
3. The terrorists who pioneered the suicide vest in modern times, and the use of women in terror attacks, were affiliated with which major religion?
a. Islam b. Christianity c. Hinduism
He’s right to say Hinduism, although the Tamil Tigers were as likely socialists and Communists, as he admits (“secular” he says).
4. “Every child is touched by the devil as soon as he is born and this contact makes him cry. Excepted are Mary and her Son.” This verse is from:
a. Letters of Paul to the Corinthians b. The Book of Revelation c. An Islamic hadith, or religious tale
The Koran has better things than that to say about Mary.
The Hadith (Muslim) might say that –it’s not the Koran– but that passage helps lead to the big difference between true salvation in Jesus Christ from all other religions, including the Christian religious beliefs based on works. The author shows the same misunderstanding many Chrstians share by his manner of posing this question.
Contrast this: Jesus said you had to become like a little child before you got a chance to get to heaven:
Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
And here, he repeats a myth often believed even by many Christians:
5. Which holy text is sympathetic to slavery? a. Old Testament b. New Testament c. Koran
He says all of them, but that’s baloney. Even modern “Christian” Bible “translations” get it wrong. The King James Bible correctly translates the word as “servant”, not slavery, because there is a vast gulf of difference between what we think of as “slaves” today, from the rules for “servants” in the Bible.
There was only one exception in the laws of Moses that is close to comparable, and that is the case where strangers were traveling with slaves that had been slaves all their life in the first place, then an Israelite could purchase one.
But the treatment prescribed for them, the list of rules for that small fraction, were so favorable to them that the only use of the word “slave” in the Old Testament is a disdainful reference to a spoiled “homeborn slave”. “Why is he spoiled?” it says.
Here’s another one:
6. In the New Testament, Jesus’ views of homosexuality are:
a. strongly condemnatory b. forgiving c. never mentioned
He says it’s never mentioned, and admits other parts of the Bible “object to homosexuality”. ]
What he does NOT mention is that Jesus pointed to Sodom at least SIX TIMES in the gospels in his warnings to the house of Israel as the ultimate examples of deserving of God’s wrath upon the wicked.
7. Which holy text urges responding to evil with kindness, saying: “repel the evil deed with one which is better.”
a. Gospel of Luke b. Book of Isaiah c. Koran
Maybe that wording is the Koran, but that’s a lot of wiggle room. What he thinks Jesus said is “much the same thing”, is way, way much NOT the same thing:
Try finding something like Matthew 5:44 in the Koran. This is the scripture that sent Mossab fleeing Islam into the arms of Christianity:
Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
8. Which religious figure preaches tolerance by suggesting that God looks after all peoples and leads them all to their promised lands?
a. Muhammad b. Amos c. Jesus
He points to Amos 9:7, but he’s indulging himself a fictional moment by saying “all” peoples, and another one by saying “their promised lands”. God led them from one place to another, but if you read the whole chapter, you will wonder about whether it means “promised land”.
9. Which of these religious leaders was a polygamist?
a. Jacob b. King David c. Muhammad
Well, call them polygamist but all three had multiple wives. Jacob had two wives, David had a few more than that.
But Muhammad was more than “just” a polygamist. He married one of his wives when she was nine years old. That’s right, nine, no typo. One of his wives was in fact Jewish, but as it turns out a spoil of conquest. Other wives had been married to other men, and another one was a step-daughter.
10. What characterizes Muhammad’s behavior toward the Jews of his time?
a. He killed them. b. He married one. c. He praised them as a chosen people.
He says: “All of these. Muhammad’s Jewish wife was seized in battle, which undermines the spirit of the gesture. By some accounts he had a second Jewish wife as well.” I once heard that the other Jewish wife I believe was before the conquests, and told him that his seizures and strange utterings were really prophetic utterances.
But what he does NOT also mention is that he grew in his hostility toward the Jews of his time in the later passages of the Koran. There are some startling quotes from his Koran about them.
But then the Jews were pretty bad in the Old Testament too.
11. Which holy scripture urges that the “little ones” of the enemy be dashed against the stones?
a. Book of Psalms b. Koran c. Leviticus
There is a blatant lie, and another exhibit of the writer’s own hostility. That passage is a prophecy of the judgment of God that would fall upon Babylon for much worse brutality inflicted upon God’s people, and does not even say that it would be them. It only says that their own sins would come back in the person of enemies just as brutal as themselves!
12. Which holy scripture suggests beating wives who misbehave?
a. Koran b. Letters of Paul to the Corinthians c. Book of Judges
Okay so I guess he got one right, looks like the Koran indeed does.. a. Koran 4:34
13. Which religious leader is quoted as commanding women to be silent during services?
a. The first Dalai Lama b. St. Paul c. Muhammad
Yep, for sure that was St. Paul, no doubt about it. But then the guy throws away his correct answer with another famous myth, believed by the smarter-than-thou crowd that likes to berate others for not believing them, saying they doubt Paul wrote neither of those scriptures.
His name is on them, and the very earliest Christian leaders and writers all had them and passed them on to us as we can still find them today, and we have their own writings corroborating almost everything we know. In fact the entire New Testament could probably be reconstructed just from their writings.
He says maybe what matters is what is in our hearts rather than our scriptures, another example of his disconnect from serious consideration of his chosen topic.
Throughout the ages even the most skeptical have admired the scriptures. Napoleon declared that it was no mere book, that it was alive. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”. (Revelation 19:10) About two thirds of the entire Bible is pure prophecy, prediction of events either future at the time or awaiting fulfillment in their turn.
The mutineers from the Bounty, we are told, sunk into jealousy, strife, killings, all kinds of evil, until one of the crew discovered a Bible in a trunk of supplies and began to read it. It is said that when the British found them, they were living such godly lives that they left them be.
The Bible transformed Mosab Hassan Yousef from warrior engineering death for his enemies to preacher of love, from reading the word of God.
Throughout our history there are hundreds, thousands of such examples.
Through passages of scripture Martin Luther was liberated from the torture of guilt, liberated by the simple verse “The righteous shall live by faith”. By faith! He went on to catalyze the movement that helped even the Roman Catholic church free itself from its own worst practices.
The translation of the word of God into the vernacular helped liberate the nations from their servitude to the hierarchy of nations and began movements of independent thinking —“one God, and one mediator between God and men”– that unleashed rulers and vassals alike to the truth that “All men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights”.
Despite the tendency of self-delusion by such men as this author and power-hungry charlatans, this is the Bible with the words that have inspired men through thousands of years to become neighbor to the Samaritan in need in the way, condemn slavery, promote peace, visit the widows and the orphans.
This is not the religion, certainly not the organized religion, but the faith that found its fulcrum in the sacrifice by God himself for the sins of the world, setting them free to love each other if only they would.
For us, it is the “love of Christ that constraineth us”.
This is so central to faith in Jesus Christ, that the epistles of John state explicitly that if you say you love God and you hate your brother, you are a liar. And if you do not help your brother in need, how can you say that the love of God dwelleth in you?