Pew Survey Underlines Awareness, Understanding of Other Religions Among US Jews
Jews are the most theologically literate group in America when it comes to knowledge of world religions in general, a new Pew Research Center survey revealed on Tuesday.
When it came to answering “32 fact-based, multiple-choice questions about topics related to religion (see here for full list of questions),” Jewish respondents answered well over half of them correctly.
The average U.S. adult was “able to answer fewer than half of them (about 14) correctly,” the survey noted.
The survey also demonstrated that belief in God does not mean greater knowledge or awareness of religious beliefs. “Jews, atheists, agnostics and evangelical Protestants, as well as highly educated people and those who have religiously diverse social networks, show higher levels of religious knowledge, while young adults and racial and ethnic minorities tend to know somewhat less about religion than the average respondent does,” the survey said.
“Jews are the top performers on questions about other world religions, getting 7.7 questions right, on average, out of 13 questions about Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and global religious demography,” the survey observed. In terms of the survey overall, “Jews get 18.7 questions right, on average.”
The survey argued that “one possible explanation for why Jews, atheists and agnostics score among the highest on this survey is that all three of these groups are highly educated, on average.”
However, it continued, “Jews, atheists and agnostics display greater religious knowledge than other groups even after controlling for education and other demographic characteristics associated with knowing more about religion.”
While the survey also showed that while Americans remain well-disposed towards their Jewish fellow citizens, that doesn’t translate into knowledge about Judaism or the Jewish community. A full 81 percent of Americans think that the Jewish community is much larger than it actually is, and do not know that Jews constitute “less than five percent of the population” of the United States.
Only 29 percent of respondents knew that the Jewish Sabbath begins on a Friday, while just 27 percent knew that the Kabbalah is originally a Jewish mystical text.