American Bible Society Annual State of the Bible Survey

Bill Hitchcock September 6, 2013 0
American Bible Society Annual State of the Bible Survey

Bible. The American Bible Society (ABS) has just released their “State of the Bible 2013”, a study of U.S. adults. This annual report was commissioned by the American Bible Society of NYC with research conducted by the Barna Group out of California. The objectives of this annual study were to determine such things as perceptions, interests, attitudes and penetration of the Holy Bible in the United States.  The research also uncovered the Bible’s influence on politics and the general sentiment of the Bible taught in public schools.

“Two research methodologies were used for the study; one included 1,005 telephone interviews with adults in the continental U.S., while the other consisted of 1,078 online surveys conducted using a nationally representative panel,” according to the ABS study.

This is a fascinating study with a couple of surprises. The reaction to having the Bible taught in public schools was one of them.

The research uncovered that 13 percent of the folks read the Bible every day while the same percentage read it every week. A fourth of the Bible owners never read their Bible. The time spent reading the Bible averaged out to around 30 minutes per setting.

holy bible surveyBible Format: Print versus Electronic

90 percent of the respondents said they read a print version of the Bible. Of this group 44 percent said they attended some form of Bible study, not including church.

“Four in ten Bible readers (41 percent) used the Internet on a computer to read Bible content during the past year, while 29 percent searched for Bible verses or Bible content on a smart phone or cell phone, 26 percent listened to an audio version of the Bible, 26 percent listened to a teaching about the Bible via podcast, and 17 percent read an electronic version of the Bible on an e-reader such as a Kindle or iPad,” the ABS reports.

The shift to an electronic version of the Bible has increased dramatically in recent years, particularly with smart phones and cell phones. 18 percent of the Bible readers used a phone in 2011. That percentage jumped up to 29 percent this year.

A surprising fact was discovered was that only 8 percent think that, “the Bible can only be correctly interpreted by people who have years of intense training in theology”. Almost 80 percent don’t think extensive training is a requirement to interpret the Bible.

Bible Facts and Stats

-56% believe the Bible has too little influence in U.S. society today

-74% of Bible readers strongly agree that reading the Bible makes you more thankful.

-88% say their household owns a Bible

-American Bible owners have an average of 4 Bibles in their home

-47% strongly agree that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life

When folks were asked to name their favorite Bible verses off the top of their head only two verses were mentioned; John 3:16 by 20 percent and Psalms 23 by only 9 percent. When asked what their favorite books of the Bible were, “Psalms was mentioned by 15% of Bible readers. Genesis (7%), John (7%), Revelation (6%) and Matthew (6%) were mentioned by about half as many adults. Proverbs (4%), Job (3%), Romans (3%) Luke (3%), and James (3%) accounted for the remainder of responses chosen by at least 3% of Bible readers,” according to the ABS research.

When respondents were asked why they read the Bible 53 percent that it brings them closer to God. 18 percent said they read the Bible to solve a problem and 14 percent said they were looking for comfort. It is very interesting to note that since 2011 there has been an eleven percent drop in people who read the Bible for the purpose of getting closer to God. It was encouraging to see that 65 percent give thought to the Bible’s applicability to their personal lives.

Another interesting find pertains to folks who experience a non-favorable emotion (10 percent) when reading the Bible. The top responses include being confused (12 percent), overwhelmed (11 percent), and doubtful (6 percent).

Teaching the Bible in Public Schools

(Listen to the exclusive Refining Truth radio interview with NC Senator Norman Sanderson: NC Bills to Get Bible and Prayer Back in School)

The ABS research showed that, “Two-thirds of adults (66percent) see it as important to teach the values found in the Bible in public schools. Roughly one-third (34 percent) of adults feel that teaching the Bible is extremely important and another one-third (32 percent) feel it is somewhat important”

Unfortunately a little over a third of the adults surveyed thought it not important to teach Bible values in school. But of the people that do support the Bible taught in schools say that the Bible teaches moral principles that are much needed in society today (75 percent). A quarter believes the Bible should be taught so as to be familiar with Christianity while 20 percent think it is essential for a well educated person. The primary concern (45 percent) is that one religion would be favored over another.

The American Bible Society’s “State of the Bible 2013”, is a detailed and fascinating research. It gives a good snapshot of the relationship between the Holy scriptures and American Adults. I highly recommend reading the complete report.

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