World News

U.S. among most Bible-literate nations - poll

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Americans are among the world’s most ‘Bible-literate’ people and Spaniards, French and Italians are among the most ignorant about what the “good book” says, according to a new study released on Monday.

A woman holds a Bible during Holy Mass in Aglona in this August 15, 2007 file photo. Americans are among the world's most 'Bible-literate' people and Spaniards, French and Italians are among the most ignorant about what the "good book" says, according to a new study released on Monday. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/Files

A poll carried out in nine countries -- the United States, Britain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, Spain and Poland -- also showed Americans were most willing to donate money to spread the message of the Bible.

The poll for the Catholic Biblical Federation interviewed Christians and non-Christians ahead of a synod of Roman Catholic Bishops on the Bible due to be held at the Vatican in October.

Most respondents in the poll, which was presented at the Vatican, were Christian. Except for in the United States, Britain and Russia, most of the Christians respondents were Catholic.

Asked if they had read a phrase from the Bible in the past 12 months, 75 percents of American respondents said yes, while between 20 percent and 38 percent of respondents in the other eight countries said yes.

The lowest were Spain with 20 percent, France with 21 percent, Italy with 27 percent, and Germany with 28 percent.

Results were similar when respondents were asked if they had read a book with a religious theme in the past 12 months. Fifty-eight percent of Americans said yes. Poland was second with 50 percent and the other countries came in between 22 and 35 percent.

The poll, taken by the GFK-Eurisko research group, showed Americans prayed the most (87 percent) and the French the least (49 percent).

Americans, Britons, Dutch, Germans, Spaniards, Poles and Russian tended to pray “with my own words” whereas Italians and French tended to recite prayers they had memorised.

Germany and the Netherlands had the highest percentage of respondents who said they believed the Bible was not divinely inspired but just “an ancient book made up of legends, historical facts and teachings written by man”.

The majority of respondents in all countries believed it was either the direct word of God or inspired by God.

Americans were the largest group who said they had a Bible at home (93 percent) and the French were the lowest (48 percent).

The French were the most opposed to teaching the Bible in schools whereas the Americans were split about evenly.

Poland had the highest percentage of those who said they attended religious services regularly (91 percent), followed by the United States with 77 percent and Russia with 75 percent.