Researchers polled nearly 3,500 Americans and asked them 32 basic questions about world religions, their texts, main figures, and tenets. Most respondents got about half the questions wrong.
For example, 45 percent of Catholics polled did not know that the Catholic church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in holy communion are said to actually and literally become the body and blood of Christ. About as many Americans did not know that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist.
In fact the poll found that atheists and agnostics knew more about religion than religious people. Among religious groups, Jews and Mormons scored highest.
Sociologists have long known that religious people are no more honest or trustworthy than the non-religious, and the new poll suggests that atheists and other non-believers are actually better informed about the religious world than the faithful themselves.