6 facts about what Americans know about religion

Many Americans say that religion is very important in their lives. But how much do people in the U.S. actually know about their faith tradition – or about religions besides their own?


A new report from Pew Research Center tries to answer this question by asking U.S. adults 32 fact-based questions about a variety of religious topics. The survey includes questions about the Bible and Christianity, as well as atheism, agnosticism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Respondents also were asked about religious demographics.

The average U.S. adult is able to answer slightly fewer than half of the religious knowledge questions correctly (14.2 of the 32). But the survey finds that Americans’ level of knowledge varies based on who is answering the questions.

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UN envoy meets Myanmar interfaith leaders

UN Special Envoy Christine Schraner-Burgener (centre) visting Myanmar. (ANSA)

The United Nations special envoy, Christine Schraner-Burgener met a delegation of faith leaders of Myanmar earlier this week over internal conflicts that continue to plague the nation, particularly the Rohingya Muslim crisis in Rakhine State.

During the July 9 meeting, they talked about the greater role for religious leaders in striving for a more tolerant society.

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Pope appoints Sri Lankan as Secretary of Vatican’s inter-religious dialogue body

Pope Francis on July 3 appointed Sri Lankan priest, Msgr. Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage as Secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The 52-year-old monsignor has been serving as the Under-secretary of the Council since 2012.

Msgr. Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage.

Pope Francis on Wednesday appointed a Sri Lankan as the Secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID).  Msgr. Indunil Janakaratne Kodithuwakku Kankanamalage, currently the under-secretary of the Council, is a member of the clergy of the Diocese of Badulla, Sri Lanka.

Msgr. Indunil was born in 1966 of a Buddhist mother who converted on marrying a Catholic.  Two years after his priestly ordination in the Diocese of Badulla on 16 December 2000, he was sent to Rome where he obtained a doctorate in missiology from the Pontifical Urban University.   The university later hired him as a professor at its Faculty of Missiology.

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Abraham Lincoln Bible surfaces, offers clues to his religious beliefs

Interfaith growth and development involve not only occasions of interreligious encounter and affirmation, but also involve delving deeper into each, specific religious path, sometimes my own faith, sometimes the faith of others.

In interfaith encounters and spaces, especially in the West, there often tends to be great breadth and embrace for every world religion, but suddenly doors shut when Christianity steps into the spotlight. Knee-jerk reactions immediately suspect bias or proselytization. 

This is a habit and reaction we must come to transcend and overcome. It always should arouse in us interest and a supportive mind, whenever we have the chance to learn about any religious or spiritual tradition. 

This article examines and inquires into a fascinating part of religious and United States history, looking at a rare artifact, and seeking insights into the spiritual path of a modern figure who changed the course of history, and shone a light onto the path of human equality (Frank Kaufmann, President, IRFWP) 

President Abraham Lincoln’s 150-year-old Bible was gifted to his neighbor, Rev. Noyes W. Miner, by his widowed wife, Mary. Miner’s family has passed it down and recently donated it so the public can now view it. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum)

She wrote that Miner was “a friend very much beloved by my husband” and historians speculate the former first lady gave the Bible to Miner as a way to protect her husband’s legacy as she had angrily rejected assertions that he was an atheist.

Miner once wrote that Lincoln “believed not only in the overwhelming Providence of God, but in the divinity of the Sacred Scriptures” and that the first lady told him at Ford’s Theater that Lincoln was planning a post-White House visit to Jerusalem to “see the places hallowed by the footsteps of the Saviour.”

Read the entire fascinating article here

International Conference on Cohesive Societies to discuss issues surrounding faith, identity and cohesion

SINGAPORE – In May last year, President Halimah Yacob put forward the idea of a unique interfaith forum with the status and prestige of the Shangri-La Dialogue, and a mission to promote understanding between different communities.

President Halimah Yacob at the International Conference on Cohesive Societies on June 19, 2019.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

The event aims to be a platform for conversations on strengthening interfaith understanding and developing new ideas to foster greater harmony in societies.

The conference is attended by around 1,000 delegates from close to 40 countries. They include academics, government officials and members of religious and civil society groups, who will discuss broader issues surrounding faith, identity, and cohesion.

Participants will also take part in workshops to discuss topics such as overcoming hate, faith and technology, and global peace-building efforts.

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Read this related article here:

President Halimah underlines need to engage with diversity, strengthen social cohesion


President Halimah Yacob meeting young people working to address challenges of social cohesion in their communities.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG



Interfaith Girl Scouts Combat Hate

Photo courtesy of the Interfaith Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan

Brenda Rosenberg, native Detroiter and interfaith activist, is the Jewish liaison to the Interfaith Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan. This group not only works to combat hatred among independent cultural groups starting at young ages, but also aims to develop myriad events meant to bring young girls with different backgrounds together.

“Several years ago, Suzanne Bante, who chairs the Interfaith Girl Scouts of Southeast Michigan, contacted the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and wanted to speak to Jewish women who were interested in interfaith work,” Rosenberg said. “I was one of those women.”

Said Bante, “I believe that Girl Scouts offers young women (and sometimes their families) the opportunity to learn about individuals who have different backgrounds and faith traditions in a non-threatening way. Understanding of religious diversity is required to prepare our young women for the future.”

Read the full article here.

G20 Interfaith Forum 2019

The 2019 G20 Interfaith Forum took place in Tokyo Japan, from June 6 – 9, 2019.

Tomohiro Ohsumi, For the Deseret News
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, center left, is surrounded by attendees after a session during the G20 Interfaith Forum in Chiba, Japan, on Saturday, June 8, 2019.

“Religious communities have both the surge capacity to respond to immediate needs such as arise with natural disasters and also staying capacity to help address long-term human needs,” said Elder Gerrit W. Gong, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In other words, religions are more than sets of rituals and beliefs. They are global networks equipped to respond to global problems.

“Religious communities offer unique connection between international and local organizations,” Elder Gong said.

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Hong Kong interreligious group meets Pope Francis

Religious leaders from Hong Kong visit the Vatican and receive Pope Francis’ blessing, as they strive to improve interreligious relations.

The leaders of 6 religions in Hong Kong are in Rome this week to mark the 40th anniversary of an organization dedicated to improving interreligious ties.

These 6 religions are Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.

Pope Francis with leaders of 6 religions in Hong Kong (Vatican Media)

“As human beings, we have to rely on one another in order to survive and be well, and we have to accommodate one another so that we can thrive,” he said. “If we are in harmony in our thoughts, we won’t fight one another.”

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