The U.S. Ignorant about Religion

Did you know that public school teachers are allowed to teach Bible as literature? (only 23% of Americans know that)

Did you know that public schools are allowed to teach comparative religion courses? (only 36% knew that)

Don’t worry. Only 47% of Americans knew that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, and 54% the Quran as a Islamic holy book.

I’m citing research from last week’s study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, a survey that revealed atheists to be the most knowledgeable group about religious knowledge (with Jews and Mormons coming in for a close second and third). Whodathunkit?

Out of 32 religious knowledge questions, atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers, Jews 20.5, and Mormons 20.3. Embarrassing for Protestants and Catholics who only averaged 16 and 14.7 correct answers.

David chimed in on this a little bit in this week’s Youth Culture Window article, Faith of Our Fathers… a fascinating article about the amount of Christian teenagers walking away from their faith all together. I read the article last Saturday from teh road when we first put it up on the site and immediately tweeted about it. Good stuff. Be sure to check that out.

Then Monday, USA Today featured a big article about the study, a piece where author Stephen Prothero actually recommended that school start teaching more about religion:

The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that it is unconstitutional to preach religion in the public schools. Teachers cannot lead prayers, or read from the Bible in a devotional manner. But the nation’s highest court has also repeatedly given its constitutional seal of approval to teaching about religion. In fact, it has described religious studies as a civic necessity.

Fascinating stuff.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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2 Responses to The U.S. Ignorant about Religion

  1. Tonya Berry says:

    Wow you would think Catholics especially would know stuff because they have catechism class that is actually supposed to lay a foundation for that sort of thing! Makes you wonder what all’s being taught in all those protestant Sunday school classes and Wednesday night bible studies, don’t it?

  2. Rebecca says:

    I took the little 15 question online quiz that came with that story… I only missed one, but I have to admit, it is only because our youth group did a study on the basics of other religions about 6 months ago. Prior to doing that study, I would have failed miserably.