A new study from the Pew Research Center shows that Mormons score among the highest of all religion groups in their knowledge of Christianity, the Bible and other religious information. The nationwide poll of 3,412 individuals was conducted in May and June of this year. While the study showed that “large numbers of Americans are uninformed about the tenets, practices, history and leading figures of major faith traditions — including their own,” there were positive findings.
In the study, Mormons scored higher than any other group in questions about the Bible and Christianity. Church members are often asked whether Latter-day Saints use the Bible. The Bible is one of the foundational volumes of scripture used in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is used in conjunction with other scriptures, including the Book of Mormon.
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The study also found that Mormons, “black Protestants” and “white evangelicals” are the most frequent readers of material 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.”
The study also found that Mormons had the highest score of any religious group in their knowledge of what the Constitution says about religion and the government. In a recent address, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, an apostle, spoke about the four major fundamentals of the United States Constitution.
Mormons also score higher than the general public in their knowledge of world religions. With regards to the public’s knowledge of Mormonism, the study found that four in ten Americans know that the “Mormon religion” was founded sometime after 1800 (44%) and that the Book of Mormon tells the story of Jesus appearing to people in the Americas (40%). About half (51%) correctly identify Joseph Smith, the “founder of the Church,” as a Mormon.
Regarding the survey, research director Luis Lugo and associate director Alan Cooperman said in the preface, “There was no comprehensive, national survey assessing the general state of religious knowledge among U.S. adults.” To address this gap, they said, “the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life set out to gauge what Americans know about their own faiths and about other religions.”
The Church places great emphasis on helping and encouraging its members to increase their religious knowledge. Mormon Sunday services include two hours of religious instruction as well as an hour-long worship service. One of those hours is spent in a study of the scriptures, including the Holy Bible. Additionally, high school-age Mormons attend seminary classes, and college-age students attend religious education classes (called institute). The study found that people who attend a college religion class (as many Mormons do) answered three (out of 32) more questions correctly. Many Latter-day Saints also serve full-time gospel teaching missions where their knowledge of religion is expanded further. Additionally, Mormons are encouraged to have daily personal scripture study and to study with their families. And the Church also recently relaunched its LDS.org website, which is a significant resource for Mormons and others to read religious information online.
See additional coverage on the study below:
Associated Press: Americans don’t know much about religion
The New York Times: Basic Religion Test Stumps Many Americans
Chicago Tribune: Religious ignorance hurts
The Dallas Morning News: Agnostics, atheists, Jews, Mormons score highest on Pew religion quiz
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Most Americans uninformed about religions, survey says
Salt Lake Tribune: Survey:LDS know more about the Bible than other Christians
Deseret News: Agnostics, Jews, LDS score high in religion poll