Think you know a lot about religion? Well, the Pew Research Center has developed a “U.S. Religious Knowledge Quiz” where you can find out. The fifteen questions on the quiz test your knowledge of the Bible and of world religions. The online quiz is here.
After you take the online quiz (and find out how much you really do know), you’ll want to go on to read about the survey from which this quiz was extracted, the “U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey.” Pew Research Center did a telephone survey in which they asked 32 religious knowledge questions of a random sample of U.S. residents. The average number of correct responses was 16 out of 32. Jews, atheists/agnostics, and Mormons scored best on this longer quiz. Scoring below average were white mainline Protestants, black Protestants, Hispanic Catholics, and “nothing in particular.”
There were so few Unitarian Universalists included in the sample that they are not included in the statistical analysis. How well would we perform? Sometime I’d like to administer either the shorter quiz, or the longer set of survey questions, to young people who have gone through a UU religious education program. How well have we done at teaching our children basic religious literacy? Since religious literacy is not the goal of most UU religious education programs, my guess is that our kids would only do well if their day school taught them this information. And how about us professional religious educators, how would we do on this quiz? I scored 100% on the quiz, but I’ve been working in UU congregations for two decades, during which time I earned my M.Div. degree — back in 1994, when I started working as a religious educator, my guess is that I would have scored between 50-75%. Finally, how about our ministers?
Do we care? — that is, should religious literacy be a goal of Unitarian Universalist religious education (and should it be a goal for our ministers and religious educators)? I’d argue that in order to be good U.S. and world citizens, we do need a basic level of religious literacy, and that Unitarian Universalists have always aimed to produce good citizens; yet there are very good reasons to disagree with making religious literacy an educational goal.
What do you think?