Atheists Beat Catholics on Religion

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on September 28 2010 1:15 PM ET

Atheists, agnostics, Jews, and Mormons are more knowledgeable about religion than those following the Roman Catholic or Protestant faiths, according to a new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released Tuesday.

Respondents were asked 32 questions ranging in difficulty about the tenets and fundamental foundations of different religious sects, according to the Associated Press. Atheists and agnostics scored the highest, with an average of 21 correct answers. Jews and Mormons averaged 20 correct answers. Protestants averaged 16 questions answered correctly, and Catholics trailed with 15.

More than half of the Protestants surveyed were not aware that Martin Luther was the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. Less than half of Americans knew the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, and less than a quarter knew the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on religion in schools allowed public school teachers to read from the Bible for literature lessons.