Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Most Americans are woefuly ignorant of world religions even their own

From the Pew Research web site:

What Do Americans Know About Religion?

America is among the most religious of the world's developed nations, but a survey of religious knowledge shows that most are uninformed about faith traditions -- including their own. Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.
To read an executive study of the report click here.
To take an abbreviated 15 question quiz click here.
I got 14 out of the 15 questions right for a score of 93% which put me in the top 1% of Americans in my comparative religions knowledge. Take the quiz and see how you do. Leave your score and comments in the comment section.
Of course I am 64 years old and have been a seeker all my life. My search has led me to Unitarian Universalism, but I am a sophisticated chooser of my religious affiliation, in the top 1%, not like most Americans. I don't know what this means except that the Brockport Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is very important to me and has been the product of careful and prolonged period of discernment. According to the statistics I am very unusual compared to my fellow citizens. How about you?


  1. I scored 80% correct which was better than 87% of the general population.

    I'm in my 30's, Catholic until college. I've been a UU for about 5 years and am fairly active in my home congregation.

  2. 93%. You are a smarty pants!

    Will your brains get you into heaven?

    Rev. Kaaren Anderson doesn't think so.

    Growing Spiritual Muscles, Sept. 19, 2010

    Check it out. Kaaren is a lot smarter than you.

  3. I got all 15 correct (brag, brag) -- but I have to admit that only the last question gave me pause. I've never really thought of Jonathan Edwards as participating in the Great Awakening. I've always associated him with the Calvinist tradition. But by process of elimination, he was the only one that made sense.

    FWIW, I teach Neighboring Faiths at my church, so if I'd gotten anything less than 13 or 14, I'd have been pretty embarrassed. It will be fun to give this quiz to my 10-year-old students at the beginning of the year and again at the end.

    Thanks, David -- I don't comment much on your site, but I read and appreciate your regular posts here, and understand your theological and political struggles. UUism can be as frustrating a faith as it is rewarding.

  4. UUbuntu:

    Thank so much for sharing your experience. Interestingly, question 15 is the one I missed. I said it was Charles Finney because I thought the same thing about Jonathan Edwards and I knew that Billy Graham was wrong.

    Blessings on your work teaching Neighboring Faiths to your students!

    Thanks so much for your comment.

  5. Most people know very little about religion even their own but that doesn't stop them from shooting off their mouths and trying to ram it down the throats of others. Most prostyletizers have no idea what they are talking about.

  6. Thanks for the compliment, David. Our DRE just took the test and got the same question wrong as you did (though she didn't tell me what her answer was). She grew up in my church so we must've done something right. We'll see how my two teenage children do.

    @Winston Rd UU -- I haven't yet read Rev. Anderson's sermons yet (I will), but as a Universalist, I can state with some authority that I will be accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven, and so will you. Intelligence, knowledge, experience and wisdom have nothing to do with the saving of our souls. Salvation is universal, regardless of belief or action. And to be honest, the universality of salvation is one of the toughest tenets of my faith to accept.

    @Anonymous -- I don't know how many evangelical Christians (or evangelical anythings) you've interacted with, but I've had my soul saved by one, my faith challenged by one, and my sexuality affirmed by one. Each of them was sincere, articulate, passionate and knowledgeable. I've had honest and rewarding conversations with random Jehovah's Witnesses who knocked on my door. I've never interacted much the "most people" to whom you refer (media consumption is not interaction), but the "prosletyzers" I've known have enriched my life considerably and changed my view of humanity for the better.

  7. @Winston Rd UU -- I just read Rev. Anderson's sermon, and it says what I believe sincerely and clearly. Thank you for point me to it. One of the differences between Unitarians (historically the wealthy and educated elite) and the Universalists (historically the spiritually oriented working class) is the relationship to God, and the attempt to correlate intelligence and morality.

    As I get older, I find myself moving toward a far more Universalist faith, even as I help my children maximize their SAT scores and attain entrance into elite colleges so that they too can join the educated, intellectual elite of this planet. Yes, it's an inconsistency between my belief in the equality of all humans and a desire to see my progeny excel. But I'm working on it.