Magi Mike's Blog

Another WordPress blog about politics and religion

Americans Religious Illiterates: Pew Survey

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I have recently noted elsewhere that R Stark and G Glock found 86 percent of Catholics and 79 percent of Protestants could not name a single prophet from the Old Testament. It suggests that the much vaunted high percentages given for the proportion of Christians in the USA, would not be so impressive if a few simple questions were added to verify that these people actually know anything about the religion they profess. Of the supposed 90 percent or so of Americans who claim to be Christian, it seems from Stark and Glock that only around seventeen percent would know enough about their faith to justify their claim to be Christians.

Well a Pew Survey has now asked the few simple questions I mentioned. An online test asks similar questions, giving a multiple choice of answers so that a guess could be correct 20% to 50% of the time! Here are the results of a confirmed atheist, namely myself:

Pew online survey by religious inclination

Pew online survey by religious inclination

Pew online survey results by religious attendance

Pew online survey results by religious attendance

Pew online survey results by education

Pew online survey results by education

I got two wrong, one about a “great awakening” that I did not attempt because it would have been pure guesswork, and one that I took what I thought was an “educated guess” at, and got wrong! The latter was not about religion but about the US constitution, but gave only two choices, so 50% would have had it right just guessing, and the former was about some obscure (to me, and to most Americans, it seemed) religious revival [added note, Wikipedia: “The Great Awakening was a religious revitalization movement that swept the Atlantic world, and especially the American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s, leaving a permanent impact on American religion.”], which 33% could have got right by guessing. Maybe the marking allows for the guessing factor.

Dr Stephen Prothero, author of Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—and Doesn’t, and involved in the survey, commented:

We have a weird kind of Christianity in America if Christians don’t even know what Christianity is.

He means American Christianity is not Christianity! The Pew survey confirms what Stark and Glock found ages ago.

Most Americans are not religious, they just think they are.

Michael Lindsay, a religion sociologist at Rice University, essentially admitted it, saying:

This study gives convincing proof that Americans may be deeply committed to faith, but that commitment comes most from the heart, not the head.

In short, faith is a synonym for ignorance.

Test yourself with our 60-item Christianity Test
Test yourself with our 60-item Christianity Test.
Click the picture

Christianity Test


Written by mikemagee

29 September, 2010 at 1:18 pm

One Response

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  1. Americans Religious Illiterates: Pew Survey « Magi Mike's Blog…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    World Wide News Flash

    30 September, 2010 at 1:33 am

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