"You will become a Christian," the pastor stated.
"I will become a Christian," the regular church attenders responded in a monotone.
"Christianity is the true religion. All other religions are lies that pollute your souls," the pastor said.
"Christianity is the true religion. All other religions are lies that pollute your souls," the congregation answered.
"Now go, and debate endlessly with those who disagree!" The pastor sent them out of the church with a wave of his staff before making another note on his Kindle for his approaching sermon, to be delivered on Sunday at 10:00 sharp.
While obviously that dialogue is a stretch, the concept remains the same. Many people assume that Christians, especially young ones, were simply raised that way and are so uneducated or brainwashed that they cannot reach a conclusion for themselves. While it may be true in some cases, it is unfair to apply that to all Christians. A minority (about 6%) of Christians say that they accepted Christ after the age of 18, according to a study done by the Barna group in 2013. Even if someone was raised a Christian, that is irrelevant to their argument. Saying that someone believes something just because that's the way they were raised is invalid for several reasons. Firstly, there are different denominations of Christianity that can be similar or very different. For example, someone may have been raised Catholic and decided to become Protestant or vice versa. Even within the Protestant body, there can be many different branches, such as Methodist and Presbyterian, which have very different beliefs regarding worship and daily life.
Secondly, just because someone was raised that way they were not forced to believe it. Many parents encourage their children to become Christians, but will not reject them and disown them if they choose a different system of beliefs. This is the case with some other religions, but in an ideal Christian home, people will love and support each other regardless of differing religious and political views. A successful conversion will never come about by screaming and arguing, or belittling the other about religious convictions. Rather, Christians should show everyone love regardless of differences.
And thirdly, Christians have the ability to think to themselves. Christians are not puppets whose strings are jerked around by cruel and malicious masters, determining their fates without giving them a chance. While they may not have received a full education or none at all, they can still think for themselves and rationalize their beliefs. Christians, for the most part, are exposed to the world as well and are aware of other beliefs.
Regarding a lack of education, research conducted by the Pew Research Center (PRC) found that of the Presbyterian Church(USA)'s members, 47% had a college degree, 25% had completed some college, and 24% had finished high school. Out of all US adults, only 27% had a college degree, 32% accomplished some college, and 31% had finished high school. This proves that some religious denominations are actually more educated than other groups. To be fair, however, several Protestant denominations are lower than the national average. Take, for example, Church of the Nazarene, where only 20% of members have a college degree. Is this stereotype mostly true, then?
Well, perhaps "uneducated" is not the best word to use in this instance. "Uneducated" means "lacking education", which seems to imply no education at all. As we discussed, this is the case very rarely, to the point where it is completely inaccurate to apply to all Christians. Perhaps "undereducated" would be a better usage of vocabulary, even if the dictionary may not consider undereducated to be an official word, its meaning should be apparent by the structure of said word. But specific vocabulary aside, is this stereotype true?
The answer is, technically, yes. However, we must be careful when applying this to specific cases to avoid the fallacy of division. The fallacy of division, succinctly put, means that you assume that the parts of a whole will have the qualities of the whole. To see why this is false, consider the following example:
"A pizza is circular. Therefore, a slice of pizza will be circular."
Obviously, this is an incorrect statement. Pizza slices are triangles, unless it is a special type of pizza. Using this same logic to refer to the church and then apply that characteristic to each member of the church is faulty and commits a fallacy. So while some members of the Christian church may have a lower education, this does not necessarily apply to all Christians.
In conclusion, Christians are not uneducated or brainwashed. Although a larger portion of Christians than the national average might have a lower education rate, this is unfair logic to apply to all Christians. Christians are not brainwashed because of their ability to think independently and hold different beliefs, which they are oftentimes taught about, even in Christian schools.