Who Knows the Most About Religion?
According to a report released on September 28th by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons had more knowledge about world religions than Catholics or mainstream Protestants. For example, respondents were asked to name the religion the Dalai Lama adhered to, what religion Vishnu and Shiva are associated with, and what country has the highest Muslim population.
When Bible knowledge was surveyed (including both old and new testaments), Mormons scored the highest, followed by white evangelical Protestants, Atheists/agnostics, black Protestants, Jews, and Catholics. These questions asked respondents to answer several knowledge questions, including where Jesus was born, the first book of the Bible, and the Golden Rule. Interestingly, Atheists and agnostics scored better on biblical knowledge than the national average.
What were the predictors of Bible knowledge? Those who were college educated, read their Bibles, or attended worship services at least once a week. Those who attended a youth group or attended private schools as children (either religious or non-religious) also answered more Bible questions correctly. Men also outperformed women, and people living outside the South did better than Southerners.
What can we learn from this research? It is important to teach the Bible! There also seems to be some indication that teaching children the Bible helps them retain this knowledge as adults. We must teach our children!
Additionally, since Christians have little knowledge about world religions, it would be helpful to include studies of world religions in our Bible classes.
How else can we improve our knowledge of world religions and the Bible?