Atheists, Jews, Mormons top U.S. religious knowledge poll
Atheists and agnostics may not believe in God or gods but they know a thing or two about them, according to a survey of religious knowledge among Americans released on Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
“On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 … Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers,” Pew said. It found Protestants answered 16 correctly and Catholics on average 14.7.
“While previous surveys by the Pew Research Center have shown that America is among the most religious of the world’s developed nations, this survey shows that large numbers of Americans are not well informed about the tenets, practices, history and leading figures of major faith traditions — including their own,” said Pew, which is based in Washington.
Highlights of the survey include:
- More than four-in-10 Catholics do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion actually become the body and blood of Jesus.
- About half of Protestants cannot correctly identify Martin Luther as the person who sparked the Protestant Reformation.
- Less than half identified Buddhism as the Dalai Lama’s religion, 51 percent knew that Joseph Smith was Mormon and 54 percent correctly said the Koran is the Islamic holy book. More than 80 percent knew that Mother Teresa was Catholic.
Wondering about the symbols in the Wikimedia Commons image above? They are, from left to right:
- 1st Row: Christian Cross, Jewish Star of David, Hindu Aumkar
- 2nd Row: Islamic Star and crescent, Buddhist Wheel of Dharma, Shinto Torii
- 3rd Row: Sikh Khanda, Bahá’í star, Jain Ahimsa Symbol