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Author Topic: Basic Religion Test Stumps Many Americans
philnotfil
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nytimes.com

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

Researchers from the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life phoned more than 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life.

On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

quote:
Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

“Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey,” said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew.

Some interesting tidbits:
quote:
On questions about the Bible and Christianity, the groups that answered the most right were Mormons and white evangelical Protestants.

On questions about world religions, like Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism, the groups that did the best were atheists, agnostics and Jews.

One finding that may grab the attention of policy makers is that most Americans wrongly believe that anything having to do with religion is prohibited in public schools.


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TomDavidson
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That last bit quoted is completely unsurprising to me.
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Adam Masterman
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Jews did well on questions about Judaism? Go figure. [Big Grin]

I think these results are pretty predictable. Americans tend to be kind of provincial, and we tend to avoid religion in school because of the unclear nature of the separation of Church and State. I would be astonished if the average American knew anything about Hinduism. And since both atheism and agnosticism are egalitarian regarding different religions, it follows that they would tend to have more knowledge about non-Christian faiths, on average.

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Viking_Longship
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Most Americans are fuzzy on Christianity to be honest.
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by Viking_Longship:
Most Americans are fuzzy on Christianity to be honest.

I was a little puzzled that a majority of Catholics got the transubstantiation question wrong. Although. I think I picked it up from Dan Brown novels, so maybe thats why. [Big Grin]
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LetterRip
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Here is the actual quiz,

http://features.pewforum.org/quiz/us-religious-knowledge/index.php?

I got 13 correct and the 13 were extremely easy ones, the two I got wrong, the first one I clicked the wrong button (Jewish Sabbath day), the second (last question) I had no clue.

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TommySama
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I got 14. I was not sure what the First Great Awakening was, especially because I thought John Edwards was the guy from that psychic show.
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TomDavidson
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I got all 15. It's worth noting that the summary of the quiz fails to note that the two highest-scoring groups are Jews and atheists:

http://features.pewforum.org/quiz/us-religious-knowledge/index.php?q=16#religous-groups

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MattP
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14
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JWatts
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I took that quiz and it didn't seem to hard. Though I probably would have only had a 50% chance on getting the last question right before I had read TommySama's post.

However the lead mentions a poll of 32 questions, not the 15 in the link above, so I'm assuming there is another poll somewhere.

And since everybody seems to be posting that Atheists and the Jewish got the two best results, I feel obligated to post that Black Protestants and Hispanic Catholics got the worst.

Hmmm, perhaps it's directly correlated with the level of education.

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Viking_Longship
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15 of 15. Most of them seem like softball questions but the Edwards one really was a bit obscure.
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TomDavidson
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The Edwards one is a gimme for people who had AP American Literature, but not a particularly helpful "religion" question.
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scifibum
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I didn't know #15. The rest were pretty easy, although only a month or two ago I'd have missed the Jewish Sabbath one, I think.
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Adam Masterman
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I got 15, but I guessed on the last one, figured it probably wasn't Billy Graham.

Since it was boring and easy, I looked for a better one. This one isn't much harder, but the first question is incorrect (Buddhists *do* believe in hell, not sure where they get their information).

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Chael
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Yup, 14 of 15--aside from the last question, they all seemed pretty basic.

The First Great /what/? [Smile]

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Rallan
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Yeah I was stumped on the First Great Awakening one too. Then again, the christian population of my country was precisely zero when the First Great Awakening happened, so it's not surprising [Smile]
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edgmatt
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11 right, I'm Catholic.
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Pete at Home
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15/15, piece of cake, but then I'm a mormon lawyer who grew up in Catholic countries, used to teach English Lit, and has worked mostly with Jewish lawyers since getting out of Law school. [Big Grin]

[ September 28, 2010, 11:08 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pete at Home
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I'm curious how Atheists performed compared to other groups as to the question of whether a teacher was allowed to quote the bible as an example of literature. I knew some atheist law students who couldn't wrap their bean around that concept.
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LoverOfJoy
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I'd like to see the full 32 questions but the site is down. It seems it would be more accurate if it left an option, "Don't know". Perhaps the telephone version did have that.
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LetterRip
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http://pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Belief_and_Practices/religious-knowledge-questionnaire.pdf
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LoverOfJoy
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Yeah, I tried that and keep getting "Oops! Google Chrome could not connect to pewforum.org"

Maybe it's just me. *shrug*

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TommySama
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quote:
Yeah, I tried that and keep getting "Oops! Google Chrome could not connect to pewforum.org"
Google Chrome is awful. I can't get any internetting done on it because it makes me click refresh 2 or 3 times before loading easy pages.
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LetterRip
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Hmm didn't try and download it - it is DoSed as well.

Guess we shall have to wait a day or so till the public loses interest [Smile]

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Funean
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15 of 15. I thought it was astoundingly easy, and then that last question...I happened to know the answer because of something I'd read recently, but I think it's about ten thousand times more obscure than "what religion was Mother Theresa." I find it a bit scary that so many religious Americans can't answer basic questions about their own faiths correctly.
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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
I'm curious how Atheists performed compared to other groups as to the question of whether a teacher was allowed to quote the bible as an example of literature. I knew some atheist law students who couldn't wrap their bean around that concept.

Well I got it, but then I'm not part of the official survey group. I figure an overwhelming majority of participants (atheist or otherwise) would've got it wrong though, thanks to the sheer amount of misinformation about religious freedom in America's schools.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Rallan:
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
I'm curious how Atheists performed compared to other groups as to the question of whether a teacher was allowed to quote the bible as an example of literature. I knew some atheist law students who couldn't wrap their bean around that concept.

Well I got it, but then I'm not part of the official survey group. I figure an overwhelming majority of participants (atheist or otherwise) would've got it wrong though, thanks to the sheer amount of misinformation about religious freedom in America's schools.
I wonder how many people answered no thinking it was just unconscionable to demote the bible to "literature". [Big Grin]
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Aris Katsaris
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14/15 only missing the one about the first great awakening.
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Wayward Son
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15/15, but had to guess on the First Great Awakening (like just about everyone else).

I also wasn't sure if Catholics had changed their belief from an actual transmutation of the Eucharist to a symbolic one. (I've heard that the Vatican II did a lot of funky things. [Smile] ) Apparently not.

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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by Funean:
15 of 15. I thought it was astoundingly easy, and then that last question...I happened to know the answer because of something I'd read recently, but I think it's about ten thousand times more obscure than "what religion was Mother Theresa." I find it a bit scary that so many religious Americans can't answer basic questions about their own faiths correctly.

Yeah that last one threw me too. And a trick to Wikipedia taught me that I know very little about the historical roots of revivals and the evangelist movement.
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Carlotta
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I got 15 out of 15. I'm Catholic, but also just interested in religions in general so that probably improved my score. And I only got the great Awakening one because I KNEW it wasn't Billy Graham, so I guessed between the other two answers and got it right.

I'd be really interested to see a similar quiz but one where the questions were based on the religion of the person taking it - see what religion's followers can answer the most correct questions about their own religion's beliefs.

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LetterRip
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YOu can download the full test now.

I've extracted the additional relevant questions but excluding the answer selection in the majority of cases. Only the religious trivia questions, and the science/history/politics literacy questions. These are a bit more challenging than previous.

Do you happen to know which of these is the king of gods in ancient Greek mythology?
Name of the holy book of Islam? (Free response)
An agnostic believes which of the following about God?
An atheist believes which of the following about God?
First book of the bible? (free response)
First four books of the new testament (free response)
Where was jesus born according to the Bible?
When approximately was the Mormon religion founded?
The Book of Mormon tells the story of Jesus Christ appearing to people in what area of the world?
Which of these religious groups traditionally teaches that salvation comes through faith alone?
Which of the following is most closely associated with willingness to sacrifice his son for God?
What religion was the Dalai Lama?
What Religion was Maimonides?
Which of the following statements best describes what the US Constitution says about religion?
a) Christianity should be given special emphasis by the government
b) The government shall neither establish a religion nor interfere with the practice of religion
c) The constitution does not say anything one way or the other about religion
According to rulings by the US Supreme Court, is a public school teacher permitted to offer a class comparing the world's religions?
Most people in India consider themselves of the religion?
Most people in Indonesia consider themselves of the religion?


Also some general science and history/political knowledge questions

(Lasers pulses of sound?)
(Founder of evolution?)
(Supreme Court Trial regarding teaching of evolution in school?)
(Frequency of discussion of science, religion, politics)
(Will antibiotics kill viruses)
(Government programs passed by FDR)
(Who is the current VP?)
(Susan B anthony led what movement)
(Who wrote moby dick)

[ September 29, 2010, 01:14 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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Wayward Son
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They all look fairly easy, except who the heck was Maimonides? [Confused]
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JoshuaD
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14/15. Somehow I got the Ramadan one wrong. [Frown]
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DonaldD
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"What religion was the Dalai Lama?"

When did he stop being reincarnated?

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TomDavidson
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Huh. That test is surprisingly Mormon-centric.

quote:
who the heck was Maimonides?
Ask any Jew. [Smile]
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LetterRip
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The 'was' might be a typing error on my part regarding the Dalai Lama. I sometimes parpaphrased and reworded for purposes of brevity and clarity and to save myself redundant typing.
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Jordan
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quote:
Tom:
quote:
who the heck was Maimonides?
Ask any Jew. [Smile]
Shouldn't that be, "ask 57% of Jews?" [Wink]
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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
They all look fairly easy, except who the heck was Maimonides? [Confused]

You know, Rambam. Mishnah Torah? Moreh Nevuchim?
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
When approximately was the Mormon religion founded?
Wouldn't a Mormon answer " around A.D. 26"?
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