Skip to comments.What Do Americans Really Think About the Bible?
Posted on 04/02/2013 8:21:11 AM PDT by daniel1212
...The Bibles Place in Society
If the Bible has such resonance with television viewers, then it stands to reason the awareness of the Christian Scriptures is high in America. And indeed, nearly nine out of ten (88%) Americans actually own a Bible. Despite such a high number, thats declined since 1993, though only slightly, when 92% of Americans owned a Bible. On average, American Bible owners have 3.5 Bibles in their home, and one-quarter of Bible owners (24%) have six or more.
In terms of demographic breakdowns, about eight out of ten (79%) Mosaics (people aged 18-28) own a Bible, compared with nearly all (95%) Elders (who are ages 65-plus). And while it might not be surprising that religiously devoted Christians own Bibles, the study finds that six out of ten Americans (59%) who have no faith or who identify as atheists own a Bible. Despite many aspects of society that are secularizing, penetration of Scripture remains high in 2013.
Add to that, eight out of ten (80%) Americans identify the Bible as sacred literature, without any prompting from interviewers. That proportion has also dipped from 2011, when 85% of respondents affirmed this perspective of the Bible. Americans overall belief in Scriptures sacredness may also explain why almost two-thirds (61%) of American adults also say they wish they read the Bible more.
Compared to the large number of people believing the Bible to be sacred, fewer than one out of ten Americans (8%) said they thought the Koran was sacred, and only half that many (4%) identified the Torah as holy literature. Perhaps connected to the swelling ranks of the religiously unaffiliated, one out of eight adults (12%) do not regard any book to be sacred text. This percentage has nearly doubled in two years, when the proportion was 7%.
Does Society Need the Bible?
So, how does the broad base of the Bibles awareness play out on the national stage of public opinion? For many, the moral stature of the country as well as political realities are determined based upon Bible engagement. Just over three-quarters (77%) believe the values and morals of America are declining. And when asked what is to blame for this decline, one-third of Americans (32%) attribute that shift to a lack of Bible reading. This is a greater percentage of people than point to the negative influence of media (29%) or corruption from corporate greed (25%). Similarly, nearly six out of ten adults (56%) believe the Bible has too little influence in American societythats more than four times the percentage of people who think the Bible has too much influence (13%).
However, the number of American adults who are friendlyor, those who believe the Bible to be inspired and infallible but dont read the Bible as oftenhas gone down (from 45% to 39%). Those who are neutralthe people who rarely read the Bible and believe the Bible to be inspired but containing errorsnumbered 25% of American adults in 2011, and is about the same in 2013 (23%). The biggest jump of any group are those American adults who are antagonistic to the Bible, meaning they believe the Bible to just be a book of stories and teachings written by men, and they rarely or never read the Bible. That group stood at one in ten adults (10%) in 2011. In 2013, their ranks have grown to 17% of all U.S. adults.
Other relevant stats:
47.8% of the Evangelicals and 11.8% of Catholics affirm the Bible is Literally true. 6.5% of the former and 19.8% of the latter see it as an ancient book of history and legends. http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/33304.pdf
Bible Reading: the highest was 75%, by those going to a Pentecostal/Foursquare church who reported they had read the Bible during the past week (besides at church), while the lowest was among Catholics at 23% ^
25% of Evangelical Christians and 20% of other Protestants and 7% of Catholics said the read the Bible on a daily basis. 44% of Catholics said they rarely or never read the Bible, along with only 7% of Evangelical Christians and 13% of other Protestants. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/december_2008/catholics_protestants_practice_faith_in_different_ways
68% of Evangelical Christians attend a regular Bible Study or participate in some other small-group activity. 47% of other Protestants take part in small groups related to their faith, along with 24% of Catholics. ^
The highest percentage of those who strongly agree they have a personal responsibility to share their faith was found among believers in Pentecostal/Foursquare churches (73%) http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/5-barna-update/53
81% of Pentecostal/Foursquare believers strongly agree that the Bible is totally accurate in all that it teaches , followed by 77% of Assemblies of God believers, and ending with 26% of Catholics and 22% of Episcopalians. ^
The percentage of Catholics who believed the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches declined from 34% in 1991 to 26% in 2011 http://www.barna.org/faith-spirituality/514-barna-study-of-religious-change-since-1991-shows-significant-changes-by-faith-group.
The typical Catholic person was 38% less likely than the average American to read the Bible; 67% less likely to attend a Sunday school class; 20% less likely to share their faith in Christ with someone who had different beliefs, donated about 17% less money to churches, and were 36% less likely to have an "active faith," defined as reading the Bible, praying and attending a church service during the prior week. Catholics were also significantly less likely to believe that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches. 44% of Catholics claimed to be "absolutely committed" to their faith, compared to 54% of the entire adult population. However, Catholics were 16% more likely to attend a church service and 8% more likely to have prayed to God during the prior week than the average American. Barna Reaearch, 2007, Catholics Have Become Mainstream America http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/12-faithspirituality/100
Evangelical Protestants are the most politically conservative Christian tradition. Within each tradition, those with literal views of the Bible are more politically conservative than is their tradition overall. Catholics that are Biblical literalists (11.8%) hold more conservative political views than the Catholic population in general does. The Biblical literalist Catholic is as politically conservative as the Biblical literalist who is Evangelical (47.8%) or Mainline Protestant. (11.2%) American Piety in the 21st Century, Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/33304.pdf
72% of Catholics said that the will of the American people should have more influence than the Bible on US law, as compared to 63% of the general public. Pew Research Center, "Pragmatic Americans Liberal and Conservative on Social Issues," August 3, 2006, http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/283.pdf (accessed June 24, 2008).
As with most folks, I drifted far far away from my religious upbringing, but with maturity, have returned.
Whether or not you believe the stories, reading the bible reveals a rich history of peoples attempting to discern and do good.
Reading the NYT reveals a sordid history of ill-educated clowns incapable of providing moral guidance to a rabbit or running a kool-aid stand.
I don’t put a lot of stock into what Barna has to say, but if the stats are even remotely close, it’s very revealing.
Jhn 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
Gen 1:27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created male and female created he them.
Jhn 1:4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. Every living person was given the light.
Jhn 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood [fn] it.
Luk 11:35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.
Therefore, by the very words of Christ himself, the Spirit of God is clearly not only in the Bible.
I incidentally watched the entire “The Bible” series on the History Channel. Sure, it did not follow the storyline contained in the Bible word for word, but the MESSAGE WAS NOT LOST. Which in my opinion was more important.
Oops... Given that the Torah (whether you define it as the Pentateuch, first 5 books of the Bible; or as the entire Old Testament, the Tenakh) is part of the Bible - which 80% reported as believing to be sacred - I don't quite understand this response ("4% identified the Torah as holy literature")...
Yesterday on Rush, we heard some alarming statistics on children being born out of wedlock or otherwise fatherless in the US. This will be a harbinger of things to come. There’s no escaping it. What are men to do about it? Find a girl, settle down...live happily ever-after or die trying? Not anymore...Not with this “War on Women” going on out there./s
Most Americans do not know that the Torah is the first five books of the Bible.
All this poll tells us is that 4% knew what the word "Torah" means.
It does not truly reflect a substantive view of the Torah.
Barna special sauce.
Not surprised about the small number of Catholics as Biblical Literalists. Catholocism is not a Biblically Literal religion. In fact, one of the more famous statements (and of course, controversial) by John Cardinal Newman is “Biblical literalism is the mother of all heresy.” It is not how we roll. We have four interpretations of Scripture: Historical, Analogical, Ethical, and Anagogical. Literal would get in the way of that.
Read this for an example of the appalling ignorance of basic Bible in Big Media:
“Given that the Torah (whether you define it as the Pentateuch, first 5 books of the Bible; or as the entire Old Testament, the Tenakh) is part of the Bible - which 80% reported as believing to be sacred - I don’t quite understand this response (”4% identified the Torah as holy literature”)”
These 4% like the IDEA of considering the Bible sacred, but never took the time to learn even the most rudimentary basics.
I teach Bible Classes to incarcerated juvenile girls. They often start their sentences with “ibeleivethebibleanallthatbut” and then they proceed to tell me why it’s teachings are never going to change them. Many people think saying they believe God or the Bible is some kind of magic to get them into heaven. But their lives clearly show they trust nothing about our God or His Word.
Good thing you weren’t raised as a Muslim or even worse, a Mormon...
No. The Holy Spirit is only in those who have been born again and are regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Yes, we are created in God's image but that does not mean we are all indwelt with the Holy Spirit. None of the verses you cite referes to the Holy Spirit which is the third person of the Godhood.
The Holy Spirit only indwells those who are His — not everyone.
You beat me to it!
Ancient words ever true...
Changing me and changing you.
The article states.........”The biggest jump of any group are those American adults who are ‘antagonistic’ to the Bible,.... meaning they believe the Bible to just be a book of stories and teachings written by men, and they rarely or never read the Bible..... That group stood at one in ten adults (10%) in 2011.... In 2013, their ranks have grown to 17% of all U.S. adults.”.....
Hello Daniell....the article references “adults”....I would be interested in the youth of today...which could quite easily surpass 20% and far more, I think.
I read the Bible at least once a day.
I imagine a few, I won’t call them problems, but more additions, to the Bible. And it won’t be solved with “rewriting the Bible” to produce a universal book, but working “outside the Bible”, to produce other resources for Christians.
The most important part of this could be called “The Bible, part II”, which begins with the schism of Christians and Jews, and follows *both* of them beyond those times.
I say this because their histories after that point, come in “fits and starts”, both at intervals producing brilliant ideas, and having major setbacks.
For instance, an entire “book” of this Bible II, could contain the creation of the “Mishnah”, the first written compendium of Judaism’s Oral Law, about 200 AD; and another “book” a synopsis of the First Council of Nicaea, the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, about 350 AD.
There is some extremely important ideas coming from both groups that would deeply enrich Christian understanding of their faith, and the acceptance of Judaism as a “sister faith”, instead of a rival.
As it continues, it would mention the Jewish diaspora, the divisions within Christianity, and most importantly, the great ideas of faith and understanding that give depth and purpose to the modern world.
It should also not shy away from its failures and abuses, while not reveling in them.
In conclusion, the last Jewish “book” should be with the Holocaust and the creation of Israel. Perhaps the last Christian “book” would be the triumph of faith over socialist-communism, with the fall of the Soviet Union and its return to Christianity.
Time has separated all of us from the world of the Bible, and for many, the word as it is is not enough to make the connection. For years there have been efforts to change the word, to make it accessible, but they have failed. So what is needed is to make the connections, to close the gap of time.
“72% of Catholics said that the will of the American people should have more influence than the Bible on US law”
Good grief. Catholics are the problem in this country, apparently. Perhaps someone should ask if they have more faith in Jesus or the government.