Details of a US religious knowledge survey has been published and the results are quite surprising. The US has a reputation for being quite religious, yet despite this, the depth of bible knowledge demonstrated is quite low. The questions were not too hard, here is a quick sample
- What is the first book of the Bible?
- Name the first four books of the New Testament
- Where, according to the Bible, was Jesus born?
But its not just about the Bible, they included questions about other beliefs such as …
- When was the Mormon religion founded? (They were not looking for a precise date, choices such as pre 1800 or post 1800 were suggested)
- The Dalai Lama is …Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Mormon, Hindu
- In which religion are Vishnu and Shiva (SHEE-va) central figures?
OK, I think you get the idea. These are not challenging questions, so what results did they come up with? Well, what is quite interesting is that they included a lot of questions to precisely identify the beliefs of those that answered, so they are able to give an accurate breakdown of how followers of the various beliefs scored.
On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Jews and Mormons do well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively. Protestants as a whole average 16 correct answers; Catholics as a whole, 14.7.
However, there is one group that stands out as the most knowledgeable, and did far better than any of the above … and that was …
… atheists. Yes indeed, non believers knew far more than any of the believing groups.
So what other surprising discoveries have they made? Well how about these facts …
- More than four-in-ten Catholics in the United States (45%) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ
- About half of Protestants (53%) cannot correctly identify Martin Luther as the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation, which made their religion a separate branch of Christianity.
- Roughly four-in-ten Jews (43%) do not recognize that Maimonides, one of the most venerate
- Fewer than half of Americans (47%) know that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist.
- Fewer than four-in-ten (38%) correctly associate Vishnu and Shiva with Hinduism.
- Only about a quarter of all Americans (27%) correctly answer that most people in Indonesia – the country with the world’s largest Muslim population – are Muslims.
You can find the full details by clicking here …
So, the real kicker here is that those most knowledgeable about religion and beliefs are the atheists … it pays to be skeptical.