The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has released the results of its U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey. This won't be entirely surprising to anyone here, but it turns out that Americans, as a whole, are religiously illiterate. Atheists, agnostics, Jews, and Mormons appear to be slightly less uninformed.
On average, Americans correctly answered half of the questions of the 32-question survey (you can take a shortened version of the quiz here). There's a lot to dissect in the results of this survey, but for the time being, here's a quick run-down of some of the findings that struck me as notable or interesting:
- Mormons answered more questions correctly about the "Bible and Christianity" than did any other group, including white evangelicals, who finished a close second.
- Racial minorities scored the lowest of all respondents overall, with Black Protestants scoring only marginally better than Hispanic Catholics.
- Jewish and atheist/agnostic respondents knew significantly more about "World Religions" than other groups.
- Only 11% of Americans know that Jonathan Edwards, as opposed to Charles Finney or Billy Graham, is associated with the First Great Awakening. To put that in perspective, that's only 3% more than knew that Maimonides was Jewish.
- (Only) 93% of Mormon respondents correctly answered that Joseph Smith was Mormon.
- Roughly half (54%) of Americans correctly identified the Koran as Islam's holy book.
- Less than half (46%) knew that Martin Luther was instrumental in the Protestant Reformation.
- A large majority of respondents (89%) knew that teachers cannot lead students in prayer at public schools.
- 33% of Catholics correctly identified the first four books of the New Testament.
- 4% of respondents thought Stephen King wrote Moby Dick (there were some questions not related to religion included in the questionnaire).
Like I said, there's a lot more in the full report to chew on, and perhaps other bloggers here will offer more substantive analyses in the coming days and weeks than I have here. The results are certainly deserving of further attention. In the meantime, I'm going to keep trying to figure out how 7% of Mormons don't know that Joseph Smith is one of them.