religionWhat You Don’t Know About Religion (But Should) by Ryan T. Cragun

Published March 15th 2013 by Pitchstone Publishing

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Amazon / B&N


What is a religion? Why are people religious? Are religious people more educated than nonreligious people? Are religious people more moral, more humble, or happier? Are religious people more or less prejudiced than nonreligious people? Is religion good for your health? Are people becoming more or less religious? Studying religion as a social phenomenon, Ryan T. Cragun follows the scientific data to provide answers to these and other questions. At times irreverent, but always engaging and illuminating, What You Don’t Know About Religion (but Should) is for all those who have ever wondered whether religion helps or hurts society—or questioned what the future holds for religion.

Rating: 1 star


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

There are really only a few things you need to know about this book:

“I could have approached this book that way (highly scientific and detailed), But had I done that my audience would have dropped considerable. So I did simplify things.”

No, I swear to God that particular misspelling actually is in the book. But just remember, this book was written for dummies, that will be important later.

“Our new world needs tolerance.”

“When I was religious, I was very arrogant.”

“If you’re on the fundamentalist bandwagon, it’s time to get off……We nonreligious will inhereit the earth, but we won’t share it with fundamentalists.”

“What I hope to have done with this book, however, is undermine and destroy the appeal of religious fundamentalism.”

“To my mind the scientific research suggested to me a logical path – to reject religion. You need not do that. You could choose the best religious alternative to that: liberal religion. I can respect that choice.”

“After people read this book, they should view religious fundamentalists with sympathy and a bit of scorn.”

“Religious fundamentalists are detriments to society and they should be treated as such. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we round them up and lock them away – that would be awful and is unethical. I’m suggesting that you should think about religious fundamentalists as though they are misogynistic, racist, homophobic Luddites, because they are.”

“…but you can pity then, and frankly, I think it is perfectly fine to tell then that you do. Tell them that you feel sorry for their choice to oppose the qualities of a progressive, modernized, advanced, democratic society. It’s time that religious fundamentalists were considered socially deviant.”

So, am I the only disturbed by these quotes? Tolerance huh? Yes, this is a very tolerant book! It will tell you for 250 pages that the highly religious are dumber, less well off, less educated, more prejudiced, more violent, misogynistic, homophobic, hypocritical, arrogant racists. I wanted to give this book a fair shot, I really did. The author is a former Mormon, and so am I. I was a fourth generation Mormon, born into the faith and I stayed long past the time I started to have doubts. I finally left the religion and frankly it left a bad taste in my mouth. So I wanted to agree with this author! And I couldn’t! Because I have never read a more prejudiced and hateful book by a more arrogant author in all my life.

This book was purported to be about the social science of how and why people are religious, and whether or not religion is really such a benefit to people’s lives as it claims to be. This intrigued me. But what I got was “look at this graph, this is what that graph tells us. now look at this graph, this is what it tells us. shit, religious people suck!” And rinse and repeat for 200 something pages. I learned nothing about religion and everything I ever needed to know about the author’s character.

Now, by this point the author will probably tell you one of two things about me (and he admits it in his book). If I don’t agree with his points then:

A. I am a religious fundamentalist who just is socially deviant and can’t understand simple logic, even though the book was written for dummies. Everyone should point and laugh at the idiot with a God.

B. I didn’t read the book all the way through and so therefore I failed to grasp it.

Let’s address this. First, I did read this pile of garbage until the very last sentence. And I learned nothing and have thoroughly wasted my time. Also I am one of the people who would be classed as “non religious” in his book. I am now a Pagan and have been since a few years after I left the Mormon church. I have faith in many things and I practice my faith in private, but I do not participate in a religion with others.

Save yourself the time and find an actual book about the science of religion, because this one is just thinly veiled hateful spew about religious people and religion in general. Oh, who am I kidding, there is no veil!