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The Unbelievable Truth

The new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, released this week, shocked many with the revelation that atheists and agnostics tend to know more about the world's religions than believers do.

Pew researchers asked more than 3,000 Americans 32 central questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions. On average, people who took the survey got half the answers wrong - and many even tripped on basic questions about their own faith.

Fully 54% of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who started the Protestant Reformation. Forty-five percent of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in holy communion are not merely symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

But we shouldn't be that surprised by the fact that supposedly faithful people had major gaps in knowledge about the religions in which they claim to believe. The explanation - or at least most of it - is not hard to see in the recent history of religion.

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