"At Commencement, a Call for Religious Literacy," a Commentary by Peter Steinfels

May 12, 2007

Author: Peter Steinfels

Source: The New York Times

http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50A13FA3E550C718DDDAC0894DF404482

And so, members of the graduating class of 2007, we've come almost to the end of this commencement ceremony and of these brief commencement remarks.

We've told some predictable jokes about your imminent unemployment and your student loans. We've thanked your parents, praised your professors and stated the obvious about the world you are entering -- that it is full of dangers, full of opportunities, full of wonders, misery, love, beauty, surprises and violence.

It is also full of religion.

There is some question whether your education has prepared you for this latter reality, which is, of course, very much related to the former ones.

For a long time, quite a few people assumed that a major point of higher education was to put religion behind you. Eventually, it was also assumed, the world would do the same. Things haven't worked out that way.

Just what do college graduates know about religion? The data is sparse. But Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University, has assembled a rather bleak picture from available polls as well as his own experience and that of other professors.