A recent survey was launched to gauge how well people understand religion. Interestingly, atheists & agnostics scored highest (65.3% correct). They were followed closely by Jews (64.1%) and Mormons (63.5%). After that there is a big drop to White Evangelical Christians (55%). The lowest scorers were Hispanic Catholics (36.3% – ouch!). The average respondent scored a 50%.
Given my own experiences as a missionary in Spain, I’m not too surprised about the low results for Hispanic Catholics. Most Catholics I taught had no trouble accepting everything we taught. Nearly all of them, for example, immediately accepted the story of Joseph Smith’s first vision as true. When you think about it from their perspective, it’s a familiar story if you accept the stories of Fatima and Lourdes as real events. Yet when I would point out the differences between their personal beliefs and those of their own religion, many of them were unaware of actual Catholic doctrine. Clearly Catholicism has relaxed its stranglehold on orthodoxy since the Inquisition.
So, I took the quiz. I admit I only got 80% correct. That makes me 93rd percentile, though, only being bested by 7% of Americans who took the quiz (doubtless many of our readers will do better than I did). The current quiz is only 15 questions and takes about 3 minutes. Here are some top level findings:
- Mormons (65.8% correct) and Evangelicals (60.8% correct) know the most about Christianity. Mormons are the highest scoring group on questions about the Bible. Which seems a little ironic on some level.
- Atheists/Agnostics (68.2%) and Jews (71.8%) know the most about world religions.
- When normalized for education, the ranking remains the same.
The results also indicate the contributing factors to high scoring results (as a Mormon, everything on this list jumps out as typical of us):
- Educational attainment. Other surveys indicate higher educational averages for Mormons.
- Weekly scripture study. Try daily, suckas.
- Talking about religion with friends & family regularly. FHE anyone? Home and visiting teaching?
- Attending church weekly. And having to answer for it every other year in a TR interview. Plus, when you have a calling and people are depending on you, it’s harder to just blow it off.
- Feeling that religion is important in one’s life. Community testimony sharing once a month certainly reinforces this one.
- Participating in religious education in one’s youth. Seminary is obvious, but also the fact that our youth lead in the youth organizations as well, holding callings in their quorums or class groups.
How did you do on the quiz? Are the findings surprising to you? What are your theories about them? Are these findings confirmed by or contradicted by your experiences at church? Discuss.