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Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 11:22 GMT
Is Ireland a 'Christian country'?
Only 31% of respondents could say the First Commandment
Religious knowledge is greater among people in the Republic of Ireland than those north of the border, a new survey has suggested.

The poll of more than 1,000 people found that only 31% could recite the First Commandment.

The survey was carried out on behalf of the Iona Institute, the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland and Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland.

It showed that just one in eight respondents knew the name for changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ at Mass as transubstantiation.

Stephen Cave of Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland said the results "throw serious doubt on the claim that we are a Christian country".

"Overall the figures are not good but the drop in knowledge, almost halved within a generation, indicates that the Christian faith is becoming less meaningful to those under 25 years of age."

Only 42% of NI respondents can say there are four Gospels
Only 54% of respondents can name the Holy Trinity
Just 60% of respondents can name the first book of the Bible
Only 31% of respondents could say the First Commandment
Only 31% of respondents could identify Martin Luther as the man who started the Reformation
Just 21% of NI respondents aged 16-24 could say there are four Gospels versus 54% of the over 65s

David Quinn of the Iona Institute said it was "likely that many people will find the Northern Ireland results surprising in that the general impression is that the north is more religious than the south".

"As with the poll conducted in the south, we find that levels of religious knowledge in the north are very low, especially among young people. It shows that knowledge of Christianity, both north and south, is disappearing from general knowledge," he said.

Sean Mullan of the Evangelical Alliance said the survey "again shows that the notion of Ireland, both north and south, being a Christian culture is becoming a thing of the past".

"The notion that Christianity can be transmitted through the culture from one generation to the next is clearly no longer valid. These findings present a challenge to all those who believe that the message of Jesus Christ needs to be heard in Irish society."

The poll is based on a sample of 1,018 people and was conducted with face-to-face interviews in October.

N Ireland 'is most pious region'
03 Apr 07 |  Northern Ireland

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