State regulators issued warnings in August that "more money is stolen in the name of God than in any other way." Pres. George W. Bush is renewing his campaign to siphon billions of tax dollars to benefit "faith-based" organizations to act as arms of the government. Fights over placement of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and public buildings continue to make headlines across the nation.
So isn't it time, asks the Freedom From Religion Foundation, to reexamine the bible--the root of religious faith in the United States?
As a refreshing antidote to the plethora of piety on the Internet, the Foundation, a national association of freethinkers working to keep state and church separate, debuted its own Internet quiz, "What Do You Really Know about the Bible?"
The quiz challenges the concept of the bible as a "good book," as well as the bible's reputation as a guide for "family values."
Biblical rules on child sacrifice, celibacy, the treatment of rape victims and "stubborn and rebellious sons" would shock modern society, maintains quiz author Dan Barker, a former ordained minister-turned-atheist and author of the book Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist.
Mark Twain said, "It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it's the parts that I do understand."
The 50-question, automatically-graded Internet quiz covers weighty matters, such as the true path to salvation, as well as lighter bible trivia on such subjects as bats, brains and barbequed locusts. (Hint: you may be in trouble for eating shrimp for dinner last night.) Quiz-takers will likely be surprised at biblical admonitions about the handicapped, and the subject of men kissing men, as well as many other biblical injunctions.
Those with a score of perfect to ten wrong are congratulated for "knowing more than a minister, priest or rabbi." Those who miss most questions are asked: "Did you get your bible knowledge from Sunday school?" and quiz-takers who score fewer than ten correct answers are consoled: "Don't feel bad. You may be better off not knowing much about the bible."
A sample tricky question asks:
"Which one of these words is in the bible?"
For the surprising answer, as well as to learn what that Tenth Commandment really says; who "created evil"; why Christmas trees and women who wear jewelry are blasphemous, and the prerequisite for admittance to the "heavenly choir," go to: www.ffrf.org/bquiz.html
More than 3,000 people in the United States and around the world had already taken the quiz less than a week after its mid-August posting, earning an average score of 20 out of 50.
"We wonder what score George Bush would get on this test," said Barker.
The bible quiz joins the Foundation's previous quiz, "What Do You Know about the Separation of State & Church?," taken by about 17,000 since it went online last fall. To test your knowledge on this besieged constitutional principle, go to: Bible Quiz
The Freedom From Religion Foundation publishes several books on the bible, including its bestseller, The Born Again Skeptic's Guide to the Bible, by Ruth Hurmence Green. Green called the bible a "behavior grab bag" and a "grim fairy tale."
"The activist who works for separation of church and state is forced to discuss the merits of the bible, because the Religious Right and its political sponsors demand that the bible and its teachings be promoted by our government," noted Foundation president Anne Gaylor.
"Yet we are a nation of bible illiterates. The bible is probably the most available, most purchased, and least read book in the world. It is the bestseller that is rarely opened. Since most religionists have not read the bible and have heard only those palatable passages their clergy wish them to hear, they are totally unprepared for any bible criticism. Many of our members are fond of saying that reading the bible is what turned them into atheists!"
Foundation members without access to the Internet who wish to have a copy of the bible quiz and its answers may send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 (business-size) envelope to:
PO Box 750
Madison WI 53701