5 Myths You Probably Believe About Major Religions

As a comedy website, we tend to stay away from too much talk about religion. Sure, we'll run the occasional article about Jesus riding dragons -- but no way are we going to start declaring huge aspects of major religions "wrong." That's just not our place, and we'll never do it ... after today.

Oh, relax. We're just going to point out some popular misconceptions about certain religions. Of course there's no wrong religion.*

*Except for Scientology.

#5. The Amish Do Not Use Technology

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We picture the Amish as neck-bearded real-life hobbits, shunning the modern world and living a blessed life with no knowledge of material decadence or, more importantly, the Kardashians. Sure, they're probably aware of the existence of television, cellphones, and the Internet, in the same way we're aware of the planet Uranus. They just don't care -- they're content riding their adorable horse-drawn carriages and building huge barns using nothing but a hammer and a hacksaw and the inhuman strength granted by repressed sexual urges.

YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images
"Next time churn it slower ... longer."

But Actually:

The Amish Ordnung stresses the concepts of modesty, necessity, productivity, and especially community. Nothing in there says anything about shunning the Internet. It's just that the idea of sitting alone in the dark while reading dick jokes off a $2,000 glowing rectangle is pretty much their idea of hell. They're completely cool with modern gadgetry when its use is necessary and doesn't cause adverse effects to the community. And contrary to what you might have heard, they have nothing against electricity. They just think the public grid is bullshit, so they use home generators, solar power, and batteries instead. The attitudes vary between communities, but all in all, things like cellphones and washing machines are not unusual. An Amish mother can totally take a taxi to Walmart and use an ATM card to buy disposable diapers, a pint of Rocky Road, and prescription Valium.

And as for that idyllic image of Amish farmers raising barns built with their own bare hands? We're sorry, but that's also just not accurate. This isn't some Portland hipster building a green-sourced hot dog stand:

Jim Seida/msnbc.com
"Hot dogs are a tool of the devil. We're a God-fearing, bratwurst-eating people."

#4. The Star of David Is the Official Ancient Symbol of Judaism

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The Star of David is easily the strongest and most recognizable symbol of Judaism and Jewish identity. The figure was first emblazoned on King David's battle shield (hence its original name, Magen David, which means David's shield), just to let any enemies of Israel who got close enough to see it know exactly which god he was about to send them to.

Charles Errard the Younger
"H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A!"

But Actually:

The shield of a divinely backed warrior-king is a pretty sweet logo. Beats the hell out of the Starbucks mermaid, anyway. Too bad the Star of David has absolutely nothing to do with that. The six-pointed star we think of as the ultimate symbol of Judaism is actually just some random shape. It looks neat, so it keeps popping up in various cultures and contexts. The Jewish used it in their ancient synagogues, but it was strictly for decorative purposes. You could see it right there along with other symbols, such as five-pointed stars, flowers, and even swastikas. Weirdest bowl of Lucky Charms we've ever heard of.

General Mills
"Hey, get the Israel office on the line. I've got an idea."

In the Middle Ages, the star started gathering mystical gravitas in places where it could be spotted by Jewish folks. Even then, they didn't bite at first; instead, the symbol became popular in Christian folklore. For the longest time, your best bet for seeing a Star of David was a church, or at a sketchy magician's place (the star was a common symbol in alchemy and magic). The modern Star of David didn't start to see widespread usage until the 19th century, when they redesigned a local flag for the Prague Jewish community and it struck a chord with the Zionist movement. So why did it become so prominent? Simple: Because it looks cool and is memorable. Same reason people wore Hypercolor.

#3. Creationists Have Been Dragging Down Scientific Progress for Millennia

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Ah, creationism! The age-old belief that everything in the Bible is literal, up to and especially Genesis. Its believers insist that God created the world literally in seven days, about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. As such, things that don't fit the idea -- like evolution and dinosaur bones and tons of scientific proof -- can freely and vigorously suck it.

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"You're just putting random bones together to make random bullshit. I can do that with LEGOs."

But Actually:

The rabid anti-evolutionary school of religious thought that most people picture when they think of creationism is actually a recent and radical subset called Young Earth Creationism. Based on a long-standing fringe theory about the Earth being merely a few thousand years old, the idea of a "young Earth" was popularized in the early 20th century by a man called George McCready Price, a Canadian wannabe geologist and anti-evolutionist who made up for his total lack of scientific training with an unbridled enthusiasm for ignorance. Seriously, he was proud of the fact that he never caught "the disease of Universityitis."

Union College
"You know, except for the times I tried to write textbooks for them."

Even in ancient times, Christian scholars didn't buy that bunk. Take St. Augustine of Hippo, who was extremely clear that no one should view the Book of Genesis as a documentary. St. Augustine, it should be mentioned, lived in the 5th century. For centuries, it was understood that the Genesis was an allegory: The "days" of creation weren't actual 24-hour periods, but metaphors for a really long time, which in the eyes of an eternal, omnipotent, time-transcendent God just seemed like an average work week. That's not just the stance of one surprisingly progressive Hippo; this very view was and remains the Vatican's (and therefore the Catholic Church's) official stance on the subject.

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