Survey: Americans Don't Know About Religion, Even Their Own

Monday, October 4, 2010 | Tag Cloud

By Joseph C. DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

WASHINGTON D.C. (Worthy News)-- A recent survey testing Americans' knowledge of religion found that non-Christians did better than Christians in answering questions about major faiths, while many could not even explain their own faith.

The survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life tested the entire spectrum of religious knowledge, but though the U.S. is one of the most religious nations on earth, Americans knew very little about religion.

Ironically, Mormons scored highest on questions about Christianity, followed by white evangelicals; Jews, atheists and agnostics all knew the most about other faiths, yet less than half knew that the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist.

Nearly half of the Roman Catholics surveyed didn't know about transubstantiation, e.g., that by faith, the bread and wine used in the sacrament of Holy Communion becomes the body and blood of Christ.

More than half of all Protestants surveyed didn't know Martin Luther's role in the Reformation, and almost half of all Jews surveyed didn't recognize Maimonides, one of the world's greatest rabbis, as one of their own faith.

Those surveyed were asked 32 questions; on average, participants correctly answered about half of the questions, with atheists and agnostics scoring highest, followed by Jews and Mormons; Protestants and Catholics nearly tied for last place, with 16 and 15 correct answers, respectively.

Participants who claimed they regularly attended worship and considered religion important perfomed better overall, but one's level of education was the best indicator of religious knowledge: the top survey scorers had the highest level of schooling.

The study also found that many Americans didn't grasp the role religion played in public schools: while most knew that teachers cannot lead their classes in prayer, less than 25 percent knew that teachers can use the Bible as literature.

"Many Americans think the constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools are tighter than they really are," wrote Pew researchers.

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7 thoughts on “Survey: Americans Don't Know About Religion, Even Their Own”

  1. Your article mentioned the Mormons as being the most knowledgeable concerning other Christian faiths. Were the Jehovah's Witnesses even considered in this report? They should be the most knowledgeable as they study world religions and teach people of other faiths, often times having to explain these beliefs to people who don't even know what their church teaches.

    • Although the Mormons and the JWs are both considered cults, the Mormons represent a much larger segment of the population; in fact, Mormon morality has driven the policy of the Boy Scouts of America for years.

      As for the JWs, I find that the "Awake" and "Watch Tower" publications to be as unreliable as the New World Translation they use for a proof text.

      • Regarding your answer to my question:
        I asked if the Jehovah's Witnesses had been considered in this survey. Your response was that Jehovah's Witnesses were considered a cult. But that wasn't my question. I didn't ask for your personal opinion regarding what the majority of Americans considered them to be- Cult or denomination, nor about your opinion of their literature and Bible translation. I asked if they had been questioned in this survey. As to your response about the Mormon religion driving the moral policy of the Boy Scouts of America, may I remind you in case you didn't know, that the Mormon missionaries have the legal right to go door to door because of the Supreme Court Cases won by the Jehovah's Witnesses. Because of doing legal battle for the right and privilege to take their ministry from door to door, the decision won by the Jehovah's Witnesses guranteed the right for other religions as well. The Girl Scouts of America now enoy this privilege to sell their cookies from door to door and politicians may campaign from door to door, seeking your vote. Jehovah's Witnesses are known the world over for their knowledge of the Bible and for their knowledge of world religions. I personally have had to teach Christians of other faiths the books of the Bible and how to find chapter and verse due to the failure of their churches to instruct them. Many do not even know God's personal name, although it appears nearly 7,000 times in the Hebrew scriptures alone. Not all American freedoms that we enjoy were fought on the battle field. Many were obtained by Jehovah's Witnesses through the battle of the Judicial Court System.

  2. We have become a country to busy with pleasure than know our own faith. We have it to easy and don't see the need of God in our lives. In time of trouble we want God right there to change everything but when things are good it is God who?

    We need to get back to the basics in our churches and back to teaching Gods Word from the Bible without compromising it in any way. Hell is Hell Sin is Sin it isn't just a bad thing it is eternal death.

    We as believer need to be ready to give an answer for God at any time and need to be teaching others to do the same and to know why.

    • i scored rather high on the test onley missed 2 but none on the biblical part which were only 3 questions. the other questions were on denomenations and other belifes. so how cane you make a fair annalisses on three Bible questions. That Christions don't know their Bible

      • There may have been only 3 biblical queries, but the poll could survey more respondents to compensate for it; however, no survey is an exact science and they all have a margin of error.

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