Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Recent Survey On Religious Knowledge

A new survey on Americans' religious knowledge has come out. A USA Today story tells us:

Only 55% of Catholic respondents knew the core teaching that the bread and wine in the Mass become the body and blood of Christ, and are not merely symbols. Just 19% of Protestants knew the basic tenet that salvation is through faith alone, not actions as well....

Just 55% of all respondents knew the Golden Rule isn't one of the Ten Commandments; 45% could name all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)....

Fewer than half (47%) knew that the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist; 27% knew most people in Indonesia are Muslims....

"People say, 'I have a personal connection with God and that's really all I need to know.' Who am I to argue?" says Pew's Alan Cooperman, a co-author of the report.

A New York Times story begins with the following ridiculous line:

Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.

Different groups do better in different areas. See here for more details.

The article I just linked gives some examples of how people responded to questions on other issues:

In addition to questions about religious knowledge, the survey included nine general knowledge questions (on history, politics, science and literature) for comparison purposes. These show, for example, that about six-in-ten Americans can name the vice president of the United States (59%) and understand that lasers do not work by focusing sound waves (60%). More than seven-in-ten (72%) correctly associate Susan B. Anthony with the movement to give women the right to vote, while just 42% know that Herman Melville was the author of the novel Moby Dick.

These results don't reflect well on American priorities. They also don't reflect well on parents, pastors, people in academia and the media, and others who have so many opportunities to influence those priorities and affect what people know.


  1. I'll bet that most of the respondents could give you plenty of detailed information on their favorite sports teams. They'd know every coach and their coaching styles, every player on their teams, and how well various teams are doing every year. They'd talk and talk about it excitedly and use their intellectual capital and (sports) historical knowledge to make predictions and recommend strategies to one another.

    If people knew the Bible like they know their stats, where would American Christianity be today?

  2. I watch "America's Got Talent".

    I'm high-brow and cultured.

    Now shut the hell up.

  3. The "wealth and prosperity" gospel doesn't really care about how well you actually know the Bible, does it? Its really sad to read some of these statistics, but I do continue to pray for genuine revival in this nation, that God would not only turn hearts back to him again but also direct those to spend more time in the Word and less time in popular media.

  4. It looks to me like a classic case of the smaller school of fish needing to be more aware of its surroundings.

    An atheist, Jew, or Latter Day Saint cannot sit back and let the cultural tide bring them to their promised land. The fact that the majority of evangelicals lack basic knowledge saddens me, but doesn't surprise me.