The Italian Almanac

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No Clue About the Bible

Italy's reputation as a devout Catholic country took a knock when a new study revealed that most Italians haven't a clue about the Bible's contents. The survey of 13,000 people in nine countries by research institute Eurisko found that just 14% of Italians were able to correctly answer basic questions relating to the Bible, its authors and its contents.

Among the queries that frequently threw respondents in Italy - where 88% of the population claims to be Catholic - was whether Jesus helped write the Bible. Other questions that tripped up Italians where whether the Gospels were part of the Bible and whether Moses or Paul appeared in the Old Testament. Respondents in most of the other eight countries fared little better, with top marks going to Poland, where 20% answered the questions correctly, while bottom of the list were two other Catholic countries, France (11%) and Spain (8%).

Researchers attributed part of Italy's ignorance in biblical matters to the fact that Italians rarely pick up the Christian Holy Book. While 75% of US respondents said they had read a passage from the Bible at least once over the last year, just 27% of Italians could say the same. Italians apparently prefer to watch religious programmes on TV and make up their own words to prayers rather than turn to the Bible for consolation or edification, said the report.

This disregard for traditional signs of devotion also extends to church attendance, Eurisko found. Only a third of Italians questioned said they attended Church regularly, compared to 55% of Poles and 45% of those questioned in the US. Yet this lack of outward devotion was no indication of creeping religious disenchantment among Italians, 79% of whom remained convinced that God was watching over them.

Similarly, despite their poor biblical knowledge, Italians said they were keen to learn, and a majority of those questioned were in favour of educating kids about the Bible at school. Nearly two thirds thought it was a good idea compared to just 21% who were opposed.