Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jumping on the Pew bandwagon

As a blogger who focuses on religion (I hesitate to name myself a religion blogger), I believe I am obligated to link to the new Pew survey that found most Americans are about as well educated on religion as they are on mitochondrial RNA.
"On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers. Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively. Protestants as a whole average 16 correct answers; Catholics as a whole, 14.7. Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons perform better than other groups on the survey even after controlling for different levels of education"
Sadly, not surprising. I have often suspected that for people to hold the religious beliefs they do, follow certain religious leaders, etc. they can't really know much about what their religion really teaches. The most disturbing finding to me was that most Christians (ie, the majority of Americans) are woefully ignorant "on questions about the role of religion in public life, including what the U.S. Constitution says about religion." Again, not a surprise, sadly, given the number of times I've had to explain why having the Ten Commandments on the wall behind a federal judge might be a problem.

I suspect it's not a coincidence that the two most knowledgable religious groups in the survey are two of the most ostracized in this country (I didn't see where Muslims fit in). It's easy to be ignorant of your religion when you've never had to fight for it, defend your practices to bosses that want to refuse time off, teach your first grade teacher what Hannukah is about, explain to her why you don't want to say a prayer to Jesus after reciting the pledge of allegiance, or call a bunch of parents to explain that the field trip has been canceled because a bunch of skinheads vandalized the temple's bus. It's easy to let religion into your politics when you're just going to hide in the majority anyway.

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