I just love these surveys that the Pew Forum does. They really shed light on the true condition of religion in America; often revealing the inconvenient truths that inevitably get lost within the powerful momentum of traditional religious practices.
One of these truths couldn’t have been better revealed than in the most recent U.S Religious Knowledge Survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.
They randomly sampled 3,412 adults and have now offered a miniature version of the quiz online, in order for you to compare your religious intelligence with them.
So what did they find? Two points summed it up for me.
- Atheist, Agnostics, Jews, and Mormons scored best on the test, while Christians scored the worst.
- The 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.
Why You Need To Explore Your Beliefs`
In light of recent examples of compromised religious leadership, sex scandals in the Catholic church, the well documented changes within protestantism, and the general decline of church attendance, it is becoming more and more apparent that there are cracks within the foundation of institutional religion.
Maybe aspects of an individualist spiritual experience may have some merit?
I am not negating the benifits of community(in fact I am pushing for some major re-imagining in this area), however you and I, as individuals, need to become our own spiritual experts. After all, it is our lives.
No longer can we relegate the most important aspects of our lives to the comfort of spectating from the pews. We are the players. These studies keep showing that many of the religious community claim to believe what they have not personally understood. So whose understanding is being leveraged here? Yes,learning from those who can reveal genuine wisdom in the areas we wish to emulate has a ton of value. BUT we cannot afford to outsource our spiritual lives or deep questioning, to men in robes.
Religion vs Faith
The U.S Religious Knowledge Survey conducted by the Pew Forum is eye opening; in that it shows that although we are the most religious developed country, it appears we don’t know what religion we are even following. But maybe that takes a back seat to remembering that religious knowledge cannot be confused with faith and true character growth; where through our personal revelations, we become better people.
What are the chances that a survey could assess our ability to forgive? More important right?
Moral of the story: Build a strong foundation. Know what you claim to believe. Don’t blindly follow beliefs just because they were handed down from your parents, or socially, or culturally convenient. Truth deserves more than that.
Where do you stand?
My score says I’m “smarter” than an Atheist. But you never doubted that right? I missed 2 questions out of the 15.
Feel free to share your thoughts on the quiz, and your score here if you’d like. Read the complete executive summary of the study here.