Are We Really This Dumb When It Comes to Religious Knowledge?

Are We Really This Dumb When It Comes to Religious Knowledge? May 2, 2013

The Pew Forum has a 15 question quiz on general religious knowledge. Click here and take the test (it’ll only take a few minutes). How did you do? Post your scores in the comments section below if you want to share how you did.

I got all of them right (remember I went to school for this stuff), but I have to admit that I was sorta guessing on Vishnu and Shiva – I was pretty sure it was Hindu, but wasn’t positive. When I got the results back, it was interesting to look at how others scored:

  • 45% of people taking the survey do not know that “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is not one of the Ten Commandments.
  • 55% of people taking the survey do not know that the Jewish Sabbath begins on Friday.
  • 60% of people taking the survey do not know that Roman Catholic teaching on communion is that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.
  • 61% of people taking the survey did not know that Job was the biblical figure most associated with being faithful despite suffering.
  • 77% of people taking the survey did not know its fine for a public school teacher to read/study the bible as literature.
  • 89% of people taking the test did not know Jonathan Edwards figured prominently in the first great awakening.

I was pretty surprised by these results. I was also a bit surprised that Jews scored best, averaging 65%. Evangelicals were in the middle, averaging 54%. Hispanic Catholics were the lowest, 39%.

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  • Yeah, I got ’em all right, too, but was kind of guessing about the teacher leading prayer… I live n the bible belt and teach philosophy part-time. I often refer to bible stories and characters in my philosophy classes and am amazed at how clueless the students are about their own religion, much less other religions. I advocate the teaching of comparative religion in public schools. We would have made fewer mistakes post 9-11 if we had simply understood the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims. And in the process of learning important differences between the religons, we also learn how much we have in common. With regard to the latter, I highly recommend this book by Aldous Huxley:

    “The Perennial Philosophy”

  • aetiffany

    I got 14 correct. Today isn’t Monday, but I have to confess that I answered Saturday to when the Jewish Sabbath begins. I feel ashamed.
    Interesting questions on this little quiz though.

    • mroge

      I got that right, but only because I remembered that Jews consider nightfall to be the beginning of the day, so although their Sabbath is on Saturday it starts on friday night. It is strange to me though, Anyway don’t feel ashamed, A few months ago I probably would have said Saturday as well. Live and learn.

  • mroge

    I got everything right, but I confess that I guessed on that John Edwards one. I don’t know much about the history of the church but the name sounded familiar. Also that part about teaching the bible in school as literature is something that I only found out recently. Some of the confusion on this test could be easily solved if people read their bibles. As far as knowledge concerning the Catholic faith I find it strange that people would not know about the communion thing. I thought that was common knowledge. However their is a lot that I do not know about Catholic faith. I think most protestants think they have everything wrong so they don’t feel the need to learn about it. I am pretty open-minded myself, but I was raised as a protestant.

  • mhelbert

    Got 100%, also. But, like you, I went to school for this stuph, too.
    I agree with Wayne that not nearly enough time is devoted to looking at world religions in public schools. This wouldn’t be advocating any particular religion. Since so much of the world, especially the emerging countries, consider religion integral to their culture, it would be helpful to understand these better.

  • Jane Smith

    I got a lot wrong. Only 72%. I’ve never made any effort to study religion though.
    I’m a little mad that they said “do unto others ect.” was not a commandment. Before becoming an atheist, when I went to church, I was taught at multiple churches that that was a commandment. Wtf. If you couldn’t tell, aside from that question, I got all the Christianity questions right. It’s a little scary to know that I still remember that stuff.