Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Study Finds Mormons Know The Most About Christianity

A recent study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life tested to see how much Americans know about their own religion and the religion of others. They asked thirty two questions that tested a wide range religious subjects such as famous historical religious people, core tenets of different faiths and how much people understood the Bible. What the Pew Forum found is good news for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 
In terms of overall knowledge about religion, Mormons come in third while Jews come in second place and agnostics as well as atheists come in first place.
However, the most surprising part of this study is how well members of the LDS faith knew about Christianity in comparison to other Christian faiths. Mormons scored the highest when it came to answering questions about Christianity and the Bible by getting 7.9 out of 12 right on average. Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University and an advisor on the survey made this comment about how well Mormons know about the Bible: 
"He said he found it significant that Mormons, who are not considered Christians by many fundamentalists, showed greater knowledge of the Bible than evangelical Christians."
It is good to know that Mormons, who claim to be part of the Christian faith, have the highest knowledge about the Christian tradition. I think the significance of this finding is that Mormons do take the label "Christian" very seriously and that we really are dedicated to the Bible. When we say we're Christians, we mean it. And studies back it up. In fact, as I pointed out in earlier blog posting, there was a study conducted in 2001 by the The Barna Group, a pro-Christian research firm found that Mormons are more likely to read the Bible during the week than are Protestants or Catholics. These studies, as well as other studies, show that Mormons score high on every measure of Christianity whether its Church attendance, knowledge of the Bible, how often we read the Bible and our belief in God and His Son. At some point, Christians of other faiths must realize that we really are Christians despite the doctrinal disagreements we may have.
The Pew Form study found that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints take the study of our own religion very seriously. What the study found that Mormons, out of the different faiths involved in this research, are the most dedicated to learning about their own faith.
"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.
Nearly half of Americans who are affiliated with a religion (48%) say they “seldom” or “never” read books (other than Scripture) or visit websites about their own religion, and 70% say they seldom or never read books or visit websites about other religions."
I think this also ties in with why Mormons are so knowledgeable about our faith and why we score so well on questions about Christianity. Not only are we encouraged to read our scriptures daily, but we are encourage to engage in personal study in reading the words of our religious leaders and reading up on Church history as well as doctrine. That includes comparative studies as we learn about other Christian faiths in conjunction with learning about our own. 
The study revealed some clues about what made people more knowledgeable about other people's faiths. They found that education was the greatest factor in influencing how much a person know about religion. The Pew Forum also found that religious activity was also a significant factor: 
"Other factors linked with religious knowledge include reading Scripture at least once a week and talking about religion with friends and family. People who say they frequently talk about religion with friends and family get an average of roughly two more questions right than those who say they rarely or never discuss religion. People with the highest levels of religious commitment – those who say that they attend worship services at least once a week and that religion is very important in their lives – generally demonstrate higher levels of religious knowledge than those with medium or low religious commitment. Having regularly attended religious education classes or participated in a youth group as a child adds more than two questions to the average number answered correctly, compared with those who seldom or never participated in such activities." 
The conclusion I draw from this is that The LDS Church does a great job in helping is members be religiously literate and knowledgeable about religion whether it be our own faith or the faith of others. The emphasis on getting  an education and   participating in Church activities such as attending Sunday services, going to the temple, serving full time missions, having Family Home Evening, personal and family scripture study, going to early morning seminary, and institute all contribute to helping us enrich our religious life on a personal level. It helps us improve spiritually and intellectually. 
What are your thoughts on this study? 

UPDATE 9.29.10: I fixed some links and added a quote for this blog story.

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