Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.
The article describes a study in which researchers phoned up 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about religion.
On average, respondents got half the questions wrong. Breaking down the results by faith (or lack thereof), the highest scores were registered by atheists and agnostics, closely followed by Jews and Mormons.
Some of the knowledge gaps are amazing:
- Fifty-three percent of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the man who started the Protestant Reformation.
- Forty-five percent of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in holy communion are not merely symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Christ.
As Nietzsche used to say: If you want happiness and peace of mind, believe. If you want truth, investigate.
You can test your own knowledge of religious lore with an abbreviated, 15-question version of the survey, available here.