You’ve heard about the Pew Forum’s “U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey”, where U.S. atheists, agnostics, Jews, and Mormons correctly answered an average of 20-21 out of 32 questions, while U.S. Catholics and Protestants answered 15-16 out of 32 questions correctly. I wonder how Unitarian Universalists and other religious liberals would rate on religious knowledge. After looking at the 32-question quiz online (you’ll find a summary version of the quiz at the end of this post, without answers), my guess is that we would rate between Mormons and Protestants.
I love quizzes like this, and I’ve been thinking about developing a similar quiz that would test the religious knowledge of both adults and teenagers who have attended Unitarian Universalist religious education programs. What religious knowledge (facts) should all religious liberals have? Back in June I posted a quiz on Unitarian Universalist religious knowledge and facts. Now here’s my attempt at a multiple choice quiz to test the religious knowledge that religious liberals should find important and useful.
A. Bible knowledge
1. Which of the following are characters in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament? Moses — Isaiah — John — Abraham — Esther.
2. Which of the following are characters in the Christian scriptures, or New Testament: Jesus — Paul — Judas Maccabbee — Peter — Mary.
3. How many books are there in the Bible? 39 — 65 — 81 — Different Bibles have different numbers of books.
4. The final book of the Christian scriptures (New Testament) is “Revelations.” True — False.
5. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all trace their religions back to Abraham in the Bible. True — False.
B. Knowledge of Christianity
1. Which of the following may be considered types of Christianity? Roman Catholicism — Protestantism — Orthodox Christianity — Mormonism — Pentecostalism.
2. All Christians have communion (also called eucharist or Lord’s Supper) every Sunday. True — false.
3. Which of the following holidays do Christians trace back to stories in the Bible? Christmas — Easter — Thanksgiving — Pentecost — Ash Wednesday.
4. All Christians believe in hell. True — false.
5. All Christians believe in the trinity. True — false.
6. All Christians believe in the literal truth of the Bible. True — false.
C. Knowledge of Judaism
1. The Jewish Bible is called: Torah — Tanakh — Kethuvim — Leviticus.
2. The Jewish sabbath day lasts: Approx. from sunrise on Saturday to sunrise on Sunday — Approx. from sunset on Friday to dusk on Saturday — Approx. from midnight Saturday until midnight on Sunday — Approx. from dinner time on Friday to dinner time on Saturday.
3. The Jewish High Holidays are also called: Sukkot — Pesach, or Passover — Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippur — Hannukah — Shabbat.
D. Knowledge of Islam
1. The Five Pillars of Islam include which of the following: Salah, or dialy prayers — Zakat, or giving alms to the poor — Hajj, or making pilgrimage to Mecca at least once if possible — Sawm, or fasting during Ramadan — Shahada, or profession of faith that there is only one god — Jihad, or struggle to further Islam.
2. Which of the following are considered prophets of Islam, that is, human beings chosen by Allah to teach humanity? Moses — Elijah — Jesus — Muhammad.
3. Which of the following are types of Muslims: Sunnis — Arabs — Shi’ites — Sufis — Kurds.
E. Knowledge of World Religions
1. Which of the following is a book important in Hindu traditions? Bhagavad Gita — Rabindrinath Tagore — Ramadan.
2. Which of the following religions would refer to the Eightfold Path? Buddhism — Confucianism — Hinduism — Sikhism — Taoism.
3. Which of the following religions would refer to the Five Relationships? Buddhism — Confucianism — Hinduism — Sikhism — Taoism.
4. Which of the following religions would affirm the phrase “There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim”? Buddhism — Confucianism — Hinduism — Sikhism — Taoism.
5. Which of the following religions would refer to the Four Noble Truths? Buddhism — Confucianism — Hinduism — Sikhism — Taoism.
6. Which of the following are considered to be Abrahamic religions, that is, religions that consider the story of Abraham in the Hebrew Bible to be important? Judaism — Christianity — Zoroastrianism — Islam — Baha’i.
I’ll give the answers to the quiz tomorrow. In the mean time, think about what questions you would ask on such a quiz. What would you include, and what would you leave out?
I’ll also include the Pew Forum quiz below.
Pew Forum Religious Knowledge Questions
Questions below have been paraphrased for brevity.
What is the first book of the Bible? (Open-ended)
What are the names of the first four books of the New Testament, that is, the four Gospels? (Open-ended)
Where, according to the Bible, was Jesus born? Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth or Jericho?
Which of these is NOT in the Ten Commandments? Do unto others…, no adultery, no stealing, keep Sabbath?
Which figure is associated with remaining obedient to God despite suffering? Job, Elijah, Moses or Abraham?
Which figure is associated with leading the exodus from Egypt? Moses, Job, Elijah or Abraham?
Which figure is associated with willingness to sacrifice his son for God? Abraham, Job, Moses or Elijah?
Elements of Christianity
What is Catholic teaching about bread and wine in Communion? They become body and blood, or are symbols?
Which group traditionally teaches that salvation is through faith alone? Protestants, Catholics, both or neither?
Was Mother Teresa Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or Mormon?
What is the name of the person whose writings and actions inspired the Reformation? Luther, Aquinas or Wesley?
Who was a preacher during the First Great Awakening? Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney or Billy Graham?
Elements of Judaism
When does the Jewish Sabbath begin? Friday, Saturday or Sunday?
Was Maimonides Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu or Mormon?
Elements of Mormonism
When was the Mormon religion founded? After 1800, between 1200 and 1800, or before 1200 A.D.?
The Book of Mormon tells of Jesus appearing to people in what area? The Americas, Middle East or Asia?
Was Joseph Smith Mormon, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist or Hindu?
Is Ramadan the Islamic holy month, the Hindu festival of lights or a Jewish day of atonement?
Do you happen to know the name of the holy book of Islam? (Open-ended)
Which religion aims at nirvana, the state of being free from suffering? Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam?
Is the Dalai Lama Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Catholic or Mormon?
In which religion are Vishnu and Shiva central figures? Hinduism, Islam or Taoism?
What is the religion of most people in India? Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Christian?
What is the religion of most people in Pakistan? Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Christian?
What is the religion of most people in Indonesia? Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Christian?
Who is the king of Gods in Greek mythology? Zeus, Mars or Apollo?
Atheism and Agnosticism
Is an atheist someone who does NOT believe in God, believes in God, or is unsure whether God exists?
Is an agnostic someone who is unsure whether God exists, does NOT believe in God, or believes in God?
Religion in Public Life
What does Constitution say about religion? Separation of church and state, emphasize Christianity, or nothing?
According to the Supreme Court, can a public school teacher lead a class in prayer?
According to the Supreme Court, can a public school teacher read from the Bible as an example of literature?
According to the Supreme Court, can a public school teacher offer a class comparing the world’s religions?
A nitpick on question A2, but one that makes a big difference to the answer: The Christian Scriptures are not the same as the New Testament, since they include the Old Testament and, for Catholics, the Apocrypha. (And then there’s the Mormons.)
The questions seem like a good “absolute basics religious liberals should know about world religions” list, except for one major omission: what for lack of a better word gets called “aboriginal religion.” Those are the major religions of a few continents for most of their history–which perhaps reflects that our teaching has a strong bias towards contemporary as well as colonial religions. Pew also asks only one question about long-ago religion, the one on Greek gods.
Obviously we can’t teach even the basics of every religion that’s had a significant impact on the world since humanity emerged, but we could take a regional focus, i.e., North American UUs might learn about Native American religions.