Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Alternate Activity 2:

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Computer with Internet access

Preparation for Activity

  • You will need at least one computer for this activity; more would be better. Test Internet access and locate the BeliefNet questionnaire online.

Description of Activity

Youth use an online survey to assess their religious beliefs' confluence with the beliefs of a variety of religions.

Ask if participants are familiar with the Beliefnet website. Then ask if anyone has taken the Belief-O-Matic questionnaire. Some may have visited the site. If any have taken the questionnaire, ask if they remember their results.

Explain, in these words or your own: is a nondenominational website which provides information resources and inspiration from many faiths, including Unitarian Universalism, to help all people find and actively live a spiritual path that will serve them best. The website offers prayer language, articles about different faiths' approaches to nearly every aspect of life, and a popular questionnaire that people can complete to see how closely their individual beliefs match the beliefs of many different faiths. The results specify the percentage of the individual's answers that matches the tenets of a given faith. For example, one person's responses might show a 93% match with Unitarian Universalism, an 85% match with the Quaker faith, and a 68% match with Buddhism.

Ask those who are familiar with the BeliefNet questionnaire to refrain from answering this question, then ask:

  • How many questions do you think it would take to determine by what percentage, down to a single percentage point, your beliefs match the world's most populous religions?

Allow some answers. Then tell them the Belief-O-Matic makes this determination in only 20 questions. Are youth surprised that with 20 questions, the computer program can capture the fundamental beliefs of many of the world's religions? Point out that this demonstrates the relatively small number of topics on which people expect their religions to guide them-just the very most important ones.

Let youth take turns completing the questionnaire and seeing their results on the computer(s). Youth waiting to use a computer can discuss:

  • What are some questions you expect to be asked?
  • What religions do you think the test will identify for you?
  • What other religions have you experienced or belonged to? Were they a good "fit" for you? Why or why not?

When everyone is finished, ask volunteers to share. How accurate do they think their results were? What surprised them? How do they feel about the questions asked?

Remind youth that their personal religious beliefs are more detailed and complex than any multiple choice questionnaire can capture, and that they can expect some of their beliefs to change over time. For these reasons, they should not take their Belief-o-Matic results too seriously. If the questionnaire sparks their curiosity about a religion and leads them to find out more, that is useful.