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Extended Audio Sample Religious Literacy Audiobook, by Stephen Prothero Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.69 out of 53.69 out of 53.69 out of 53.69 out of 53.69 out of 5 3.69 (26 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Stephen Prothero Narrator: Stephen Prothero Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2007 ISBN: 9780061262579
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What's Your Religious Literacy IQ? Quick—can you:

  • Name the four Gospels?
  • Name a sacred text of Hinduism?
  • Name the holy book of Islam?
  • Name the first five books of the Hebrew Bible or the Christian Old Testament?Name the Ten Commandments?
  • Name the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism?

If you can't, you're not alone. We are a religiously illiterate nation, yet despite this lack of knowledge, politicians continue to root public policy arguments in religious rhetoric whose meanings are missed—or misinterpreted—by the vast majority of Americans.

"We have a major civics education problem today," says religion scholar Stephen Prothero. He makes the provocative case that to remedy this, we should return to teaching religion in the public schools.

Alongside "reading, writing, and arithmetic," religion ought to become the fourth "R" of American education. Many believe that America's descent into religious illiteracy was the doing of activist judges and secularists hell-bent on banishing religion from the public square. Prothero reveals that this is a profound misunderstanding. "In one of the great ironies of American religious history," Prothero writes, "it was the nation's most fervent people of faith who steered us down the road to religious illiteracy. Just how that happened is one of the stories this audio has to tell." Religious Literacy reveals what every American needs to know in order to confront the domestic and foreign challenges facing this country today.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This book is a must-read not only for educators, clergy and government officials, but for all adults.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Smart but gentle, loving but blunt, Prothero is uniquely qualified to guide us through the fraught fields of faith.”

    Bruce Feiler, author of Walking the Bible and Where God was Born

  • “A compelling, provocative, wholly innovative historical interpretation of the place of learning in American religious life. I love this book!”

    Lauren F. Winner, author of Girl Meets God and Real Sex 

  • “Provocative and timely…Combines a lively history with a set of proposed remedies.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Remarkable…an especially deft examination of the reasons for Americans’ religious literacy.”

    Washington Monthly

  • Religious Literacy presents a compelling argument for Bible-literacy courses.”

    Time

  • “Prothero makes you want to go back to college…a scholar with the soul of a late-night television comic.”

    Newsweek

  • “Compelling and persuasively presented…a critical addition to the debate about teaching religion in public school.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • AnAmazon Top Customer Favorite
  • ABooklist Top 10
  • AWashington Post Book World Best Book of the Year
  • APublishers Weekly Best Book
  • ANew York Times Editor’s Choice
  • APublishers Weekly Bestseller
  • ANew York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristen | 2/15/2014

    " Interesting though the interview with Terry Gross was much meatier. It was too general and too dogmatic. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Todd Landrum | 1/26/2014

    " I was looking for more of a religious education than reasons on why I should be educated. A good 2/3s of the book is the history of religion in the USA - interesting, but much too long and not what I wanted. The final 1/3 is a collection of important religious terms and ideas. While educational, it is too disjointed to form anything coherent. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carol | 1/15/2014

    " It was okay. A lot of the history was interesting. The glossary was a good collection of terms, but I found the alphabetical listing kind of confusing. I would have like him to group the terms together under the different religions they are attached too. I do agree, though, that a knowledge of religion is important to understand other points of view on political and world issues. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/28/2013

    " OK. Some good points about our basic ignorance about religion in the history of our country, the beliefs of our neighbors, and even in our own religious institutions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nathan | 11/16/2013

    " Chronicles the trend of American religion. Discussed why we have predominately evangelical denominations without a doctrine base. Interesting, but I expected more detailed discussion on the actual doctrine. The preface discussion was necessary, but lengthy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Curtis | 11/13/2013

    " I found this in the audio book section of the library today. I plan to start this once I finish Odd Thomas. I have many discussions with my Muslim co-worker on various aspects of comparative religions. He's a big fan of Joseph Campbell. Even if we think we know quite a lot, as Unificationists we can never know enough in our efforts toward world peace. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah Bahn | 11/9/2013

    " I find most of these types of books hard to chew - they are as tough as over cooked meat. Not this book - very easy to read and extremely informative. Author does an excellent job convincing me how important knowledge of world religions are to be an informative citizen. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 10/23/2013

    " He makes a good case for religious literacy - even for those who don't believe. You can't have a decent discussion or debate if you don't understand what the other side is talking about. The glossary in the back is a good, if very basic start. Can you name the twelve apostles? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dee | 9/13/2013

    " Everyone should know their religious history. This helps us understand the debate about separation of church and state, teaching religion in public schools, and helps us to know ourselves. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vickie | 3/25/2013

    " A good starting point in understanding the major religions. The author discussed the various beliefs of the religions and the within each religion without personal bias. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matthew | 2/23/2013

    " should be compulsory for every american. so illuminating and important. read this book....NOW! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Greg | 1/28/2013

    " This is probably great in print, but it doesn't work as an audio book. The book's final third -- a glossary of terms Prothero deems important for religious literacy -- is really something you want on paper, to refer back to. Also, Prothero reads this himself, and trails off his sentences. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 George Orwell | 11/26/2012

    " A jarring realization that Americans are Biblically illiterate as well as religioiusly literate. In the book he gives a quiz-every American should take it. We need more religious awareness and tolerance in this country! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff Raymond | 5/5/2012

    " I'm more religiously literate than I thought. This is a book that should be given to every adult of voting age, though. The title says it all, and I still learned something even though a lot of this was rehash for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharman Wilson | 3/27/2012

    " Good book, especially for anyone who did not have a "Sunday School" upbringing. You can't understand what's going on in this crazy world without some knowledge of religions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara | 10/3/2011

    " "College professor Stephen Prothero crafts a nicely detailed, objective mini-encyclopedia of major and minor world religions as well as explaining why literacy in the context of religion is important in today's society." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joe Mueller | 6/27/2011

    " So far, so good. Amazingly startling statistics of our collective religious ignorance. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dee | 5/15/2011

    " Everyone should know their religious history. This helps us understand the debate about separation of church and state, teaching religion in public schools, and helps us to know ourselves. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amanda | 2/17/2011

    " Prothero is right in saying that Americans are largely illiterate when it comes to world religions, but this book says that in too many words. I did like the dictionary part because it was easier to read and touched on important religions and people. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dawn | 2/15/2011

    " Very informative book, but the author dwells on Christianity more than any other religion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert | 1/28/2011

    " Prothero reminds us both of how little the American populace knows about religion and why this is dangerous! Excellent book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 1/3/2011

    " Some shocking statistics, but an excellent book that will make you think! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 June | 12/31/2010

    " An excellent, interesting, well written text that fills in many of the gaps of the typical American's grasp of religions beyond Christianity and Judaism. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jessica | 12/15/2010

    " Another book everyone should read. Knowing about as many religions as possible, especially in today's world, is the only way we can be truly understanding, tolerant and respectful of others' beliefs. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian | 11/3/2010

    " Liked it. Learned much about other religions that I didn't know. The book makes a compelling case for becoming passingly conversational in the major points of the world's religions and how they shape the world events swirling around us. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Laura | 10/3/2010

    " The early part of this book seemed self-promoting, and pushing a concept/position ... I was hoping to learn the basics of various religouns. Did not finish. "

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About the Author

Stephen Prothero is the New York Times bestselling author of Religious Literacy and God Is Not One and a professor of religion at Boston University. His work has been featured on the cover of TIME magazine, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, NPR, and other top national media outlets. He writes and reviews for the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, The Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Salon, Slate, and other publications. Visit the author at www.stephenprothero.com or follow his tweets @sprothero.