Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bible Smart

Quick: name the ingredients in a Big Mac….. OK, got it? Now, just as quickly, name the The Ten Commandments. Oh, oh.

If you succeeded at the first, and failed at the second, you are in good company. According to a recent survey 80% of Americans know there are two all beef patties along with special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on that sesame seed bun, while only 60% knew that “Thou shalt not kill” is one of the ingredients of God’s Big Ten. Only 34% knew that the Sabbath was on the list, and only 29% knew that God hates idols (along with homosexuals and shrimp, though these are not among the Big Ten).

Why are we so ignorant of the Bible? It isn’t because we don’t have access to it. The average American household owns four Bibles, and millions more are sold every year. The book is around, but people just don’t read it. If they did, millions of Americans would not have answered the question, “Who is Joan of Arc” with “The wife of Noah.” No kidding.

But I have a few suggestions for improving Bible literacy. First, someone should work with a big burger chain to produce a Bible-based kid’s meal. I wouldn’t be too strict about kosher beef, but no cheeseburgers in this box. And with the meal would come a Bible-themed toy: maybe a smoking Mount Sinai or an anatomically amended Adam and Eve.

I would also urge one of the big television networks to create a game show called Smarter Than a Fifth Grader in Sunday School in which players would test their Bible knowledge against fifth graders from various Bible-based religions. Or even better: How about a show called God Wants You To Be a Millionaire where contestants and a Prosperity Gospel pastor of their choice answer biblically themed questions such as “When Noah looked outside the floating ark, did he recognize any of the bloated corpses as his friends and neighbors?” Contestants and pastors would split the winnings, or they could pool their winnings and give it all to God in hopes of receiving even more money from God in the future. Just how they would get it to God would be worked out with the show’s sponsors.

Or maybe a Candid Camera-type show where people are tricked into violating a commandment and then get stoned by passers-by: “Hey, look! That guy just uncovered the nakedness of his father! Let’s get him!”

Or maybe a reality show called Carry That Cross where contestants are beaten almost senseless by once-famous television stars dressed up as Roman soldiers, and then challenged to see who can carry a cross up a fake Golgotha.

Or maybe American Idle where people compete to see who can do the least on a Sabbath.

My point is that if we want Americans to be more Bible-smart we have to get them where they live: on the couch in front of the tube eating a God is Happy with You Meal complete with a Pontius Pilate doll with hands that really wash.

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