A study conducted by Harris Interactive for Zondervan
Publishers shows that "Americans don't know the facts about
While 66 percent believe Jesus is the most recognized figure in history, the study [pdf]shows that few understand His
"A lot of people don't know
[Jesus'] role in creating a society where all human beings are
recognized as having rights and that everybody should be included
and be considered equal," says Pastor John Ortberg of Menlo Park Presbyterian
Church in California.
"That really was based on the idea which began in little Israel
and spread through the world, through Jesus, that every human being
is made in the image of God and is loved by God, and out of that
flowed ideas, such as we should have compassion for everybody,"
He contends things like orphanages and hospitals originated with
followers of Jesus who remembered His teachings and compassion.
He also points out there was a gender imbalance during the time
of Jesus -- 1 million women to 1.4 million men -- because many
girls died at birth or through exposure or infanticide because of
"It was really through the teaching of Jesus, the way that He
would teach women as well as men, that they equally bore the image
of God, that they were the first witnesses of the resurrection and
were leaders in the early church, where over time in society at
large the idea of the dignity, worth, equality of women spread,"
the pastor explains. "So, Jesus' teachings elevated women."
Ortberg points to the Harris/Zondervan poll, which reveals that
89 percent of Americans do not know Jesus pioneered the concepts of
universal literacy and education. He thinks it is a shame people do
not know more about who they know to be the most recognized figure
John Ortberg is the author of Who Is This Man?: The
Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus.