Stephen Prothero, the Boston University prof whose new book, Religious Liberty, is getting a lot of attention, was on the “Daily Show”:http://www.comedycentral.com/motherload/player.jhtml?ml_video=83952&ml_collection=&ml_gateway=&ml_gateway_id=&ml_comedian=&ml_runtime=&ml_context=show&ml_origin_url=%2Fmotherload%2F%3Fml_video%3D83952&ml_playlist=&lnk=&is_large=true with Jon Stewart a few days ago.
There were some funny exchanges.
Prothero’s book, as the title suggests, makes the case that all Americans should know the basics about their own faith and even other people’s religions.
With Stewart, he mentioned all the curiosity about Mitt Romney being a Mormon:
“I’m less concerned about whether Mitt Romney is a Mormon or a Protestant or a Catholic, but I’d like to know if he knows basic information about Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism. So the next time some big event comes up in world affairs, he’ll know how to deal with it.”
“Are you suggesting that we are also going to war with Hinduism and Buddhism?”
Just a joke, folks (although, I guess, Stewart is pretty anti-Bush Administration, right? I don’t often watch the show).
To illustrate the need for religious literacy, Prothero had to go no further than U.S. Silvestre Reyes, the Texas Democrat who is now chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. As of December, when he faced an interviewer, Reyes did not know whether al Qaeda is predominantly Sunni or Shiite. This is, of course, an inexcusable, mind-blowing problem for any congressperson, given the significance of the Sunni-Shiite split in not only Iraq, but the entire Muslim world.
“All we need to know,” Stewart quipped, “is who is evil and who isn’t.”