America has Christian roots, and the English language is chock full of references to biblical words, phrases, stories and concepts. But as American culture moves farther away from the authority of the Bible, many religious touchstones are getting lost on newer generations. Misuse of terms like 'Good Samaritan' and 'Armageddon' are just the tip of the iceberg...many Americans can't name half of the Ten Commandments. Even worse, many teachers and professors either drag the Bible down to the level of manmade literature or keep dragging it down to where man can judge it rather than the other way around.
Stephen Prothero, the chair of Boston University's religion department, proposes not religious instruction, but religious literacy for school students. Moving past just Christian thought, he addresses the need for major tenets of all major religions to be taught for students to have a fully-rounded education, and one which they can inform with necessary elements from religious beliefs of the majority of the world's population. The last chapter is a 100+ page dictionary of religious terms and basics that (except for a few glaring omissions, like 'justification' and 'salvation') can serve as a beginning point for becoming informed about this crucial element of American culture.