Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Americans More Versed In The Bible Than Europeans, Vatican Study Says

Francis X. Rocca

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Americans are more likely than Europeans to own and read a Bible, but Poles are most likely to have a basic knowledge of Scripture, the Vatican reported Monday.

The statistics are among preliminary findings of a study of Bible reading in the U.S. and eight European countries. An Italian market research firm produced the survey in preparation for an international synod of Catholic bishops to be held this October in Rome.

More than 90 percent of American households contain at least one copy of the Bible, the highest level among the countries studied, according to the study, which targeted 13,000 interviewees.

Three out of four Americans had read at least one passage of Scripture over the previous year, compared to only one out of four Spaniards, who ranked last in that respect. Americans were also most likely to read the Bible directly, rather than rely on preachers and other interpreters for knowledge of its contents.

Not surprisingly, exposure paid off in familiarity with the book. When asked seven basic questions about the Bible's contents and authorship, 17 percent of Americans were able to answer all correctly, compared to an average of 15 percent in all the countries studied.

Poles took the prize for biblical knowledge, with 20 percent earning perfect scores on the test. The lowest rank went to the Russians, only 7 percent of whom were able to answer all the questions right.

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