Most people have heard by now of the findings of a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that American atheists know more about religion than religious believers do. The story that they didn’t hear coming out of that survey is that Christians have a more general ignorance as well, when compared to non-Christian Americans.
One of the particular manifestations of Christians’ ignorance is in the realm of politics. When I speak of the political ignorance of Christians in America, I’m not using the term “ignorance” to describe merely having opinions that I disagree with. I’m talking about ignorance of basic political facts. In the Pew Forum study, Christians demonstrated a much greater political ignorance than atheists did.
One of the political facts that the survey tested respondents on was the identity of the Vice President. An astonishing 42 percent of American Christians surveyed had no idea that Joseph Biden is Vice President of the United States. Only 17 percent of American atheists were ignorant of this fact.
The political implications of this finding are not reassuring. The rate of Christian identity in the United States is in decline, but Christians still make up the majority of voters in the nation. If so many of them can’t even remember who the Vice President of the United States is, then how can this large bloc of voters be expected to make intelligent choices in this year’s congressional elections, when less well-known facts are at stake?