04/29/2008 03:30 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

America: #1 in Bibles. #37 in Infant Mortality

Europeans are feeling pretty smug lately, with their sturdy currency, "health care," and rising rates of life expectancy, but there's one area where we kick their ass: American Christians read the bible a lot more often than European Christians do.

According to a new study by the Catholic Biblical Federation, 75% of American Christians have read a phrase from the bible in the last year. This towers over Italy (27%), France (21%) and Spain (20%). And Acts 17:11 clearly states that Bereans are better than Thessalonians because they read the scriptures more, so taste it, Paco.

Yes, when it comes to (self-reported) bible reading, we're #1! We could walk around Europe with our heads held high, if we could afford to go. And weren't afraid that terrorists would kill us. And didn't mind all the spit in the food.

They're just jealous.

Don't you wish you could have been at the Vatican press conference yesterday, when the Federation reported their findings? America wins. Europe loses. We'll now open the floor for weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(In the movies, Vatican press conferences always involve the Book of Revelation, and either follow or precede geysers of blood coming from the last place you'd want one. The shower. The Great Lakes. Patricia Arquette. Why is that?)

Anyway, the results are in. America reads the bible more than Britain, Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Spain, Poland or the Netherlands. 93% of Americans own a bible, which is also first place, in the sort of arbitrary list of white countries the surveyors checked.

We're not bible ignorant. 93% of Americans own one. Three out of four read it, at least once a year, whether they need to or not. So how do we end up with churches with signs in front of them that say things like:




It must take a little time, not just to think that up, but to physically find all those letters and arrange them in rows. It's not like you're engraving the Book of Kells, but it's still got to eat up a couple of minutes. A period during which you might ask yourself:

If Jesus read this, would he think I'm a creep?


Hey, wait. Do brothers have the same first name, or last name?

Pastor Roger Byrd, of the Jonesville Church of God, Jonesville, South Carolina, says he wasn't out to make a political statement. He was just trying to be provocative, and coming off kind of hateful and not very bright. Not unlike the National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez.

Here's Byrd:

"It's simply to cause people to realize and to see what possibly could happen if we were to get someone in there that does not believe in Jesus Christ... See, it asks a question: Are they brothers? In other words, is he Muslim? I don't know. He says he's not. I hope he's not. But I don't know. And it's just something to try to stir people's minds. It was never intended to hurt feelings or to offend anybody."

Or endanger the tax-exempt status of my doublewide.

The sign upset a lot of people last week. (Byrd said he wouldn't change it, and then changed it. Flip-flopper.) Barack Obama isn't a Muslim, and he didn't mastermind 9/11. That was Michelle. But I think the outrage missed the point. The problem with the question of whether Obama and Osama are kin isn't that it's viscous and stupid. The problem is that all men are brothers.

It's not that theologically complex. It involves our parents, Adam and Eve.

Oh look, here's Jesus:

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

If you wanted to shorten it, to fit on a sign, you could do it like this:





The Catholic Biblical Federation (Stuttgart) conducted its survey of 13,000 Christians through GfK Eurisko (Milan), a subsidiary of United Business Media plc (U.K.). Isn't it nice to know the church isn't just throwing its money away on feeding the poor?


Kathryn Jean Lopez writes:

"Now, you can certainly criticize George W. Bush for being a little too hopeful... but if you've listened to him in the last week, you've heard a man who simply believes in the promise of America, a promise that would not be possible without a higher calling than politics. He believes we're a City on the Hill, the last best hope, and that morning in America is right around the corner thanks to the work and sacrifices of many patriotic Americans."

That's, uh, very nice, sweetie. Now go to your room. The cats aren't going to marry themselves.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is lucky her parents are Catholic, because if one of my daughters had those kind of brain problems, I'd pull the plug.


How can morning be right around the corner? Wouldn't that mean the sun rises from side to side?