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Religious Tolerance logo

Religious knowlege

A quiz concerning religiously-based sexism,
homophobia, intolerance, terrorism, polygamy...

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A Pew Research Center poll on religious knowledge in the U.S. showed that adults have suprisingly little religious knowledge, even about their own faith.2 The poll inspired Nicolas Kristof of to the New York Times to write a column 1 consisting of a quiz of 13 religious questions. Most of them had a single correct answer: a, b, or c. However a few questions had "all three" as the correct response. We added three more questions to his list.

1. Which holy book requires that a bride who does not bleed on her wedding night should be stoned to death?
a. Islam: Qur'an
b. Judaism & Christian: Old Testament
c. Hinduism: Upanishads

2. Which holy text declares: “Let there be no compulsion in religion”?
a. Qur'an
b. Gospel of Matthew
c. The letter by Paul to the Romans

3. Which was the first religious group to use female terrorists wearing suicide vests?
a. Islam
b. Christianity
c. Hinduism

4. The passage: "Every child is touched by the devil as soon as he is born and this contact makes him cry. Excepted are Mary and her Son" is from:
a. Letters of Paul to the Corinthians
b. The Book of Revelation
c. An Islamic hadith

5. Which holy book condones, allows, and regulates human slavery?
a. Old Testament
b. New Testament
c. Qur'an

6. In the New Testament, Jesus’ views of homosexuality are:
a. very negative
b. forgiving
c. not discussed

7. Which holy text suggest that one respond to evil with kindness, using the phrase: “repel the evil deed with one which is better.”
a. Gospel of Luke
b. Old Testament: Book of Isaiah
c. Qur'an

8. Who preached religious tolerance by writing that God looks after all peoples and leads them to their promised lands?
a. Muhammad
b. Amos
c. Jesus

9. Who of the following religious leaders were polygamists?
a. Jacob
b. King David
c. Muhammad

10. How did Muhammad behave towards Jews?
a. He killed them.
b. He married one or two.
c. He praised them as a chosen people.

11. Which holy scripture urges that the "little ones" of the enemy be exterminated by dashing their heads against stones?
a. Book of Psalms
b. Qur'an
c. Leviticus

12. Which holy book suggests that husbands beat wives when they misbehave?
a. Qur'an
b. Letters of Paul to the Corinthians
c. Book of Judges

13. Who was quoted as requiring women to be silent during religious meetings?
a. The first Dalai Lama
b. Paul
c. Muhammad

14. Which holy book required that women suspected of adultery go through a ritual that would result in their death if they were guilty?
a. Qur'an
b. Old Testament
c. New Testament

15: The followers of which religion(s) were responsible for mass murders in Bosnia Herzegovina during the 1990's?
a. Islam
b. Serbian Orthodox Christians
c. Roman Catholic Christians

16. Which Old Testament leader was the target of ridicule by 42 children and who retaliated by having them killed by bears?
a. Moses
b. Elijah
c. Elisha

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1. b. See: Deuteronomy 22:21. More details.
2. a. Qur'an, Sura 2:256 forbids forcing individuals to become Muslims. However, other passages condemn persons who leave Islam.
3. c. The earliest suicide bombings were by Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka and India. Some of the terrorists were secular Tamils.
4. c. From the Hadith -- assembled accounts of the life of Muhammad.
5. All three books.
6. c. There are about six "clobber" passages in the Bible that people have interpreted as condemning same-sex behavior. However, this interpretation is disputed by others, who claim that they refer to same-sex rape, same-sex prostitution in Pagan temples, same-sex behavior by heterosexuals, sexual abuse of children, etc. None of the passages describe Jesus' beliefs about same-sex activity.
7. c. Qur'an, 41:34. Jesus is recorded as saying a similar phrase.
8. b. Amos 9:7
9. all three religious leaders
10. all of these. Muhammad’s Jewish wife was a prisoner of war. Some records indicate that he also had a second Jewish wife.
11. a. Psalm 137
12. a. Qur'an 4:34
13. b. St. Paul, both in 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2. However, many New Testament academics believe that the Corinthians passage was a later forgery. Many also believe that 1 and 2 Timothy were definitely pseudonymous -- written by a unknown person many decades after Paul's death, who passed the writings off as Paul's.
14. b. Old Testament: Numbers 5:17-31 A husband could take his wife suspected of adultery to the tabernacle, where the priest would make a magical drink consisting of holy water and sweepings from the tabernacle floor. She would drink the water while he recited a curse on her. This was believed to cause a massive injury to her body if she was guilty, which would have certainly caused her death. More details.
15. All three. However, only the mass murders by Serbian Orthodox Christians are generally regarded as having risen to the level of genocide. More details.
16. c. The prophet Elisha was ridiculed by some little children who called him a name like "old baldy". Elisha laid a curse on them in God's name. God appears to have responded to the curse by sending two bears to attack and kill all 42 children.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Nicholas D. Kristof, "Test your savvy on religion," New York Times, 2010-OCT-10, at:
  2. "U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey," Pew Research Center, 2010-SEP, at:
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Originally posted on 2010-NOV-28
Latest update on: 2012-SEP-07
Based on an Op-Ed piece by Nicholas Kristof
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