There is a 15 question test quiz developed by the PEW Foundation which tests the general knowledge of religion of Americans. This is not a test of knowledge of Christianity solely, but religion. Take the test here
It is not overly difficult. I missed one.
But what is interesting is the following percentages of correct answers by religious affiliation (or lack thereof):
65% for Jews
64% for Atheist or agnostics
61% for LDS (Mormons)
54% for white evangelical Protestants
51% for white Catholics
48% for white mainline Protestants
What confused me at first is that Atheists and Agnostics scored so well and evangelical Christians were so far behind them. But, I think it is due to three things:
- Atheists and agnostics in this country have had to defend their positions to those attending church and in doing so, have become more knowledgeable that the “churched.” I expect the response of the “churched” to be along the lines of “even Satan knows God and trembles.” Likewise, Jews and LDS, because of the limited number of their faith in the country have had to learn more to defend their positions. Muslims probably were not significant enough of a group to register, but I would like to have seen the results,; my guess is they would have been similar to that of the evangelicals.
- We are not doing a good job in school teaching world religions; not something I would expect to change anytime soon.
- The trend in the new non-denominational churches to rely of emotion and feeling —the arming of the heart, et al—over learning.
The last two worry me some. for the future of religion in America. Not know why we believe things or the underlying reasons for the belief leads to a fairly shallow belief system, one that can be crushed or obliterated by the bad acts of a specific church or when bad things happen to the person.
It is easy to maintain beliefs when everything is going well. When a loved one dies as a victim in a hit and run or a drive-by shooting or . . . .fill in the tragic event of your choosing. . . many will look for the good in it, to see why God allowed or caused the thing to happen. Well meaning people will say things that just increase the hurt and, without a deep background in the whys and wherefores of faith, the faith can be lost. “It was God’s will” is not much comfort to the young mother whose child contracted a rare disease and died.
Well-meaning churches can also, through use or misuse of Church Discipline or Shunning or just simple disassociation, cause people to rebel against the church. With sufficient knowledge can get past the cruelty that can be had at the hands of the churched and move on while maintaining faith.
Before anyone jumps on me, I am not saying that all people in church are cruel or hurtful. The contrary is what I believe, but there are those who just do not know when silence is best (there are a lot of unchurched people like this also).
picture is from here