Where does the Bible currently stand in American culture? That’s a question that the Barna Group, a polling firm that measures faith issues, and the American Bible Society, a Christian organization, attempt to answer each year through their joint study on “The State of the Bible.”
While the United States continues to be a Bible-friendly country, some changes are afoot, according to polling results released this week. See five of the key findings below:
1) Skepticism toward the Bible is on the rise: The proportion of those skeptical or antagonistic toward the Bible is now the same as the proportion of those who are engaged with it.
The percentage of who are skeptical increased from 10 percent to 19 percent over the past three years and is now on par with the percentage of those engaged with the Bible — people who read it at least four times each week and who believe it is inspired by or contains the actual words of God.
Skeptics are more likely to be younger (two-thirds are age 48 or younger) and to be male (68 percent).
Despite skepticism, 56 percent of Americans still believe the Bible is the inspired word of God with no errors.
2) Millennials have much less reverence for the Bible: It’s no secret that younger Americans are more likely to be unaffiliated with a specific faith, but the study offered a deeper look more specifically on their views surrounding the Bible.
Millennials, defined as those individuals born between 1984 and 2002, were found to be more skeptical toward the Bible and less likely to read it. In fact, 39 percent of these younger Americans never read the Bible, compared to 26 percent of adults overall.
They are also less likely to believe that the Bible has everything a person needs to know in order to pursue a meaningful life (35 percent vs. 50 percent for all adults).
3) There’s one key reason why Bible reading has become more difficult: People are busy, and with crazier schedules comes a deeper difficulty finding the time to read and study scripture.
But this doesn’t mean there isn’t interest, as 62 percent of Americans wish they could read the Bible more often, though they lack the time to do so.
Of those who told Barna that their reading decreased over the past year, 40 percent reported simply being too busy. Others reported significant changes in their lives (17 percent) and becoming atheist or agnostic (15 percent), among others.
4) Perceptions of moral decline aren’t as attached to Bible reading as they once were: Many cultural critics warn that American society is on a moral and ethical decline, but according to the Barna study, fewer people this year (26 percent) attributed the perceived decline to a lack of Bible reading than in 2013 (32 percent).
This isn’t to say that people don’t believe morals are on the decline. Eight in 10 adults do believe that this is the case, though they are more likely to blame TV, music and movies — popular forms of entertainment that often spread these negative messages.
5) Technology is having a major impact on the Bible: As technology evolves, so do the ways in which people consume scripture. As TheBlaze previously reported, the YouVersion Bible app, available on phones and tablets, has been downloaded more than 136 million times.
Without a doubt, an increasing number of people are using technology to access the Bible; the Barna study corroborated this notion.
Among those who have increased their Bible reading, 26 percent say it was because they downloaded the Bible onto their smartphone. That said, 84 percent of Bible readers still prefer print.
Others were inspired by “The Bible” miniseries on the History Channel or they began listening to podcasts and church services online.
(H/T: Christianity Today)
Featured image via Barna Group