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50 Great Myths About Religions

John Morreall, Tamara Sonn

ISBN: 978-0-470-67351-5 May 2014 Wiley-Blackwell 256 Pages


50 Great Myths about Religions is an intriguing, informative, and often humorous introduction to some of the long standing myths that surround religious belief. This engaging book will get its readers thinking about how and why certain myths have arisen, and their continuing influence on our personal and collective view of religion.

Offers a lively, informative, and thought-provoking  introduction to some of the common misbeliefs surrounding religions

  • Discusses myths about religious belief in general, as well as specific ideas that surround Judaism, Christianity, Islam, atheism, and agnosticism
  • Covers a wide range of myths, from ancient legends such as the Bible forbidding pork being eaten because it causes illness, to modern urban fables, such as Barack Obama being a Muslim
  • Unpacks each myth in turn, explaining why it arose, how it spread, and why the beliefs that stem from it are questionable
  • Includes a fascinating discussion about human nature, and the main characteristics that predispose us to create and circulate myths to begin with
  • Underpinned by a wide knowledge of academic research, it is written by two respected religion scholars and experienced authors

Related Resources

1 Introduction: Myths and Misbelieving 1

2 Myths About Religions in General 9

Introduction 9

1. All Societies Have Religions 12

2. Religion Is about the Spiritual 18

3. Religion Is about the Supernatural 21

4. Religion Is about Faith or Belief 23

5. Worship Is an Essential Part of Religion 28

6. Religion Is a Personal Matter 31

7. Science Will Eventually Replace Religion 34

8. Religion Causes Violence 39

3 Myths About Judaism, Jews, and Jewish Scripture 45

Introduction 45

1. The Ancient Israelites Believed in One God 46

2. Moses Wrote the First Five Books of the Bible 50

3. The Book of Genesis Is Incompatible with the Theory of Evolution 53

4. Jews Believe They Were Chosen by God to Receive Special Privileges 60

5. The Jews Killed Jesus 63

6. Blood Libel: Jews Use Christian Blood in Their Rituals 68

7. Benjamin Franklin Advised the US Government to Expel Jews 70

8. The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion: Jewish Leaders Plot Global Takeover 73

9. Hanukkah Is for Jews What Christmas Is for Christians 77

4 Myths About Christianity, Christians, and Christian Scripture 80

Introduction 80

1. The Four Gospels Are Eyewitnesses’ Accounts of the Life of Jesus 81

2. The Bible Says that When We Die, Our Souls Go to Heaven or Hell 86

3. Jesus Was Born on December 25 in a Stable in Bethlehem 89

4. Jesus Was a Christian 93

5. Jesus Preached Family Values 97

6. The Image of the Crucified Jesus Has Always Been Sacred to Christians 101

7. The Church Suppressed Science in the Middle Ages 105

8. Catholics Are Not Christians 110

9. The United States Was Founded as a Christian Country 115

5 Myths About Islam, Muslims, and the Qur’an 123

Introduction 123

1. Most Muslims Are Arabs and All Arabs Are Muslim 124

2. Muslims Worship a Different God 126

3. The Qur’an Condemns Judaism and Christianity 129

4. “Jihad” Means Holy War 135

5. The Qur’an Encourages Violence 138

6. The Qur’an Condones Mistreatment of Women 142

7. The Qur’an Promises Suicide Bombers 72 Heavenly Virgins 147

8. Muslims Reject Democracy 150

9. Muslims Fail to Speak Out against Terrorism 153

10. American Muslims Want to Impose Islamic Law on the United States 158

6 Myths About Other Western Traditions 163

Introduction 163

1. Zoroastrians Worship Fire 163

2. Voodoo Is Black Magic 166

3. Witches Worship Satan 169

4. Rastafarians Are Marijuana Abusers 175

5. Unitarian Universalists May Believe Whatever They Want 178

7 Myths About Eastern Traditions 181

Introduction 181

1. Hinduism Is a Single Religious Tradition 181

2. Hinduism Promotes the Caste System 185

3. Hindus Worship Idols 187

4. Buddha Is a God for Buddhists 190

5. The Laughing Buddha (Budai, Ho-Ti) Is Buddha 193

8 Myths About Nonbelievers 196

Introduction 196

1. Nonbelievers Are Ignorant about Religion 196

2. Nonbelievers Have no Basis for Morality 198

3. Without Religious Belief, Life Has No Purpose 202

4. Atheism Is Just as Much a Matter of Faith as Religion Is 207

Bonus Myths 210

1. The Bible says, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” “God helps those who help themselves,” “Money is the root of all evil,” “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” “To thine own self be true,” “This too shall pass,” “To err is human, to forgive divine,” and “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.” 211

2. The Bible Forbids Eating Pork Because It Causes Illness 216

3. The Apocalypse Is the End of the World Foretold in Scripture 220

4. Satan and His Devils Torture Humans in Hell 224

5. Cherubs Are Cute, Childlike Angels 226

6. Christians Were Systematically Persecuted by the Romans 229

7. There Was a Female Pope Named Joan 233

8. Saint Patrick Drove the Snakes out of Ireland 238

Index 242

“…The authors have a serious and deep purpose. Moreover, they have set about the task with some sagacity. Conscious that many people are unwittingly captive to damaging half-truths in religious belief, they set the record straight on key issues and ideas, and, in so doing, have produced a lively book with a bracing and pacey text. It deserves to be widely read.”  (Church Times, 21 August 2015)

“For the non-religious amongst you, this book will provide to hand a ready set of information to counter the door-to-door religion sellers.”  (, 1 June 2014)

"The Bonus Myths of the final section were mainly well – known and very cleverly handled, with erudition and humour.  The Apocalypse is the End of the World; Cherubs are Cute, Childlike Angels; There was a Female Pope Named Joan; and a whole series of fabled statements attributed to the Bible, e.g. Cleanliness is next to Godliness; Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner; Money is the root of all evil; This too shall pass . . . and so on.  Well worth reading whatever your faith or belief."  (Nurturing Potential, 1 June 2014)