Atheists/Agnostics, Jews, and Mormons have an edge in religious knowledge

One of my areas of research specialization is religion and American politics. Thus, I was intrigued by the findings of a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:

Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.

On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers. Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively. Protestants as a whole average 16 correct answers; Catholics as a whole, 14.7. Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons perform better than other groups on the survey even after controlling for differing levels of education.

Interestingly, despite the fact that many Protestant groups hold that Mormons are neither Christian nor believe in the Bible, the survey shows that Mormons scored the highest of any religious group on their knowledge of Christianity and the Bible.

I also thought this was noteworthy:

Mormons, black Protestants and white evangelicals are the most frequent readers of materials about religion. Fully half of all Mormons (51%) and roughly three-in-ten white evangelicals (30%) and black Protestants (29%) report that they read books or go online to learn about their own religion at least once a week. Only a small fraction of all religiously affiliated Americans – 6% of the general public and no more than 8% of any religious group – say they read books (other than Scripture) or visit websites to learn about religions other than their own at least once a week.

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