I know it’s uncouth to say, “I told you so,” but in this case I did.
Three years ago, in my book Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know ”” And Doesn’t, I described the United States as a nation of religious illiterates. Though Americans are deeply religious, I argued, they know very little about their own religions, and even less about the religions of others.
I based this conclusion on scattershot data ”” a Gallup question here, an anecdote there, and a quiz I gave to my Boston University students ”” because there was no comprehensive national survey of U.S. religious literacy. Last week, however, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released the first nationwide survey of American religious knowledge, based on interviews with 3,412 adults who answered 32 questions on the Bible and the world’s religions.
Not surprisingly, the nation as a whole flunked. Respondents got only 16 out of 32 questions right on average, for a score of 50%.