Survey finds many Americans Ignorant of Major Religions
Mormons scored highest on questions about their faith
The independent Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life says it asked 3,400 Americans in a telephone survey to answer questions about their religious knowledge. On average, their answers were correct only 50 percent of the time. More than half, or 53 percent of American Protestants could not correctly identify Martin Luther as the historical figure whose writing and teaching inspired the Protestant Reformation.
The study found that only 47 percent of Americans knew that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, and less than 40 percent identify Vishnu and Shiva with Hinduism.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The survey revealed that Americans who either do not believe in God or are not sure if God exists scored the highest. Atheists and agnostics correctly answered about 21 of the 32 questions, followed by Jews and Mormons, who each had about 20 correct answers.
The study found that only 47 percent of Americans knew that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, and less than 40 percent identify Vishnu and Shiva with Hinduism. Only about 27 percent know that most Indonesians are Muslim, even though that country has the world's largest Muslim population.
The United States has been rated as one of the most religious nations among the world's developed countries. About 60 percent of American adults say religion is "very important" in their lives. In spite of this, the foundation said its "U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey shows that large numbers of Americans are uninformed about the tenets, practices, history and leading figures of major faith traditions - including their own."
Mormons scored the highest of religious questions. Jews, atheists and agnostics scored the highest on questions about world religions like Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. American Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists were included in the survey, but the Pew organization said too few of them took part to produce relevant data for each group.
While Roman Catholics make up the largest single religious denomination in the United States, the survey found that 45 percent of them answered incorrectly when asked about one of their faith's core beliefs. Specifically, that the bread and wine shared as Communion during Mass doesn't symbolize Christ, but actually becomes his body and blood.
Sample questions in the survey included: Where was Jesus born? What is Ramadan? What religion is the Dalai Lama? It was conducted by telephone, in English and Spanish, over a three-week period several months ago.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Religious survey, Hinduism, Atheism, Mormons, Protestant
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