World Religions

Survey Shows Americans as Religio-Centric

The role of religion as a social force of enduring significance in the modern world is recognized by American historians and sociologists, according to studies published by the American Historic Association and Social Science Research Council. Yet, a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life indicates that Americans are generally less than knowledgeable about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.

On average, Americans correctly answered half of 32 questions in the survey. Atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons were among the highest-scoring groups, outperforming Catholics and both evangelical and mainline Protestants. At the same time, many Americans are devoted readers of scripture; 37 percent say they read the Bible or other holy scriptures at least once a week, not counting worship services. But Americans as a whole, or 70 percent, are much less inclined to read books or visit websites about other religions.

Additional Pew data show that while most countries provide for religious freedom in their constitutions or laws, only a quarter actively respect this legal right. Sixty-four nations, or about one-third of the world’s countries, impose restrictions on religious practice.

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