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Are We Religion Illiterate?


If you're an atheist or agnostic, you might know the most about religion in America. That's just one of the surprising finds in a new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, as reported by CNN. The Pew gauged America's religious knowledge by using a quiz.

Among the findings:

  • Most Americans scored 50 percent or less on a quiz measuring knowledge of the Bible, world religions and what the Constitution says about religion in public life.
  • Those who believe the Bible is the literal word of God did slightly worse than average, while those who say it is not the word of God scored slightly better.
  • It's not Bible-belt Southerners who scored highest - they came at the bottom.
  • Barely half of all Catholics know that when they take communion, the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ, according to Catholic doctrine.
  • Only eight of the 3,412 survey respondents got all 32 questions right. Six got them all wrong.
  • While people with a high level of religious commitment do better than average on the religion questions, people with low levels of religious commitment do better than average on the general knowledge questions (which were included for comparison purposes).

"When it comes to religion, there are a lot of things that Americans are unfamiliar with. That's the main takeaway," Greg Smith, a senior researcher at the think tank and one of the main authors of the survey, told CNN.

The 32-question quiz polled more than 3,400 Americans by telephone. Visit the CNN website to take a 10-question version of the quiz. You can view the study here.

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