A new book, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--And Doesn't, shows that americans, while identifying as overwhelmingly christian, aren't really all that into that whole 'reading the Bible' thing.
Wonkette, via Evangelical Right:
A shocking new book proves Americans are simultaneously the most "religious" and the most religiously ignorant people in the developed world. Overwhelming majorities of Our Fellow Citizens don't know anything about the Bible, the teachings of Jesus or even the 10 Commandments they want posted everywhere. (Could Christians want those ancient laws displayed at every government building so they can learn one or two?)
The fun part is seeing what americans don't know about the Bible. "God helps those who help themselves," is Benjamin Franklin, for example, not one of the Ten Commandments.
* 10% believe Joan of Arc was the wife of Noah from the Book of Genesis.
* 50% of high school seniors believe Sodom and Gomorrah were married. (They were actually just part of an early "sister cities" Chamber of Commerce program.)
* Only one in three Americans can name the four Gospels, while less than half can even name one of them.
* A majority couldn't identify the preacher of the "Sermon on the Mount." (Hint: The Bible says it was Jesus.)
My favorite -- "Most believe Saint Paul led the Israelites from their enslavement in Egypt." Hasn't anyone seen Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments?
And, if you're one of those 'christian nation' types, don't get too smug; "Evangelical Christians are only slightly more knowledgeable than their non-evangelical counterparts."
Here seems to be a good place to point out that the medieval church opposed printing the Bible when the Guttenberg press was invented. They wanted to be able to tell people what the Bible meant by 'interpreting' it, rather than allow the great unwashed to read it themselves and find out that some things the church was involved with -- killing people, for example -- were bad. Having a whole bunch of cheap Bible's on the loose would make message-control impossible.
Turns out they needn't have worried. People will line up around the block to have someone tell them what the Bible says, as long as it means they don't have to actually read it themselves.