A new Pew survey out today has been making the news. It shows that Atheists/Agnostics, Jews, and Mormons have the highest religious literacy. On the questions regarding Christianity and the Bible, Mormons scored at the top! Among other Christians, Mormons also demonstrated the most knowledge about world religions and tied for the highest score in the category “Religion and Public Life.” Jews and Athetists/Agnostics outscored Mormons in both categories.
I don’t know whether this makes me happy, or want to cry.
I am a supporter of religious literacy programs and think that knowledge about religion is just one of those important things to have. I am incredibly pleased that relative to others, Mormons appear generally informed about these issues. Yet, the bar is so low that successfully jumping over it should elicit essentially no praise whatsoever. Only about half of Americans can successfully identify the significance of Martin Luther, the religious affiliation of the Dalai Lama, or that the Koran is the holy book of Islam. I mean, we are talking remedial religious knowledge here, barely anything that could pass for “literacy.”
So, I am not sure what to make of this. What, if any, importance should we place on religious literacy as a religious community?