A new poll of Americans has found that the majority of people have some serious gaps in their knowledge of religion. Interestingly, but unsurprisingly to me, the survey found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. Jews and Mormons ranked just below them in the survey's measurement of religious knowledge -- so close as to be statistically tied. 45 percent of Catholics did not know that the church teaches that consecrated bread and wine is the actual body and blood of Jesus. They thought the communion elements were symbols. Do only Protestants, not Catholics, traditionally teach that salvation comes through faith alone? Only 16 percent of people surveyed correctly answered yes. Only 46 percent chose Martin Luther as the dissident whose writings and actions inspired the Reformation. On the finding that atheists and agnostics are likely to know more about religion than believers, Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, commented that. “I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people,” Mr. Silverman said. “Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That’s how you make atheists.” "One finding that may grab the attention of policy makers is that most Americans wrongly believe that anything having to do with religion is prohibited in public schools. An overwhelming 89 percent of respondents, asked whether public school teachers are permitted to lead a class in prayer, correctly answered no. But fewer than one of four knew that a public school teacher is permitted “to read from the Bible as an example of literature.” And only about one third knew that a public school teacher is permitted to offer a class comparing the world’s religions. The survey’s authors concluded that there was “widespread confusion” about “the line between teaching and preaching.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/us/28religion.html Why do you think a people who are by most reports, quite religious, are so uninformed about the dogma and history of their own (and other's) religions? Or, when it comes to religion, are belief and knowledge mutually exclusive concepts for most people? Is one more likely to be a non-believer if they have greater knowledge of the teachings religious institutions? Do you think that we'd find similar results if the same poll was conducted in other countries? Why are Jews and Mormons better informed than members of other denominations?