The researchers said that the questionnaire was designed to represent a breadth of knowledge about religion, but was not intended to be regarded as a list of the most essential facts about the subject. Most of the questions were easy, but a few were difficult enough to discern which respondents were highly knowledgeable.
They asked 3400 Americans 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous people, etc. Results?
- On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.
- Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons.
“I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people,” Mr. Silverman said. “Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge.
So why do I bring this up? Because one of the questions was about religion in public schools.
An overwhelming 89 percent of respondents, asked whether public school teachers are permitted to lead a class in prayer, correctly answered no. But fewer than one of four knew that a public school teacher is permitted “to read from the Bible as an example of literature.” And only about one third knew that a public school teacher is permitted to offer a class comparing the world’s religions. The survey’s authors concluded that there was “widespread confusion” about “the line between teaching and preaching.”
I think it would be great if there was a world religions class in high school if you had the right teacher who could control the discussion i.e. not let kids go at each other's religion. It might make for a more tolerant AND informed group of citizens.
What's interesting to me is that SPS has places in many schools (I'm thinking primarily secondary as I haven't heard of this in elementary) for Muslim students to pray during the day. I've never asked why this is but it would seem an issue because then Christians or Jews might want a prayer room as well.