In what some may dub a landmark study, Baylor University researcher Aaron Franzen found something that will likely get both conservatives and liberals talking: Reading the Bible daily helps American Christians become more concerned about poverty, civil liberties and conservation.
Interestingly, the study claims that as people read the Bible more regularly, they become more concerned with a variety of social issues. David Briggs, a writer for the Association of Religion Data Archives, has more:
The study, one of the first to examine the social consequences of reading Scripture, reveals the effects of Bible reading appear to transcend conservative-liberal boundaries.
Thus, even as opposition to same-sex marriage and legalized abortion tends to increase with more time spent with the Bible, so does the number of people who say it is important to actively seek social and economic justice, Franzen found.
In America, faith and politics often intermingle, with commonly-held stereotypes interfering with the ways in which people view the Bible, Christianity and the like. Surprisingly, Franzen's study finds that all Christians, regardless of political affiliation, have found their attitudes transforming as a result of reading the Bible.
Briggs claims that those individuals who believe that the Bible is literally true, but who spend little time reading it, will actually find themselves at ideological odds with those who devote more time to the scriptures.
This is one of the first studies that examines "the social consequences of reading scriptures." The research indicates that the frequency of time spent in the Bible is one of the most powerful predictive factors associated with citizen attitudes on social and political issues. Below, Briggs provides some of the findings:
- The likelihood of Christians saying it is important to actively seek social and economic justice to be a good person increased 39 percent with each jump up the ladder of the frequency of reading Scripture, from reading the Bible less than once a year to no more than once a month to about weekly to several times a week or more.
- Christian respondents overall were 27 percent more likely to say it is important to consume or use fewer goods to be a good person as they became more frequent Bible readers.
- Reading the Bible more often also was linked to improved attitudes toward science. Respondents were 22 percent less likely to view religion and science as incompatible at each step toward more frequent Bible reading.
While the study seems to contend that readers "moderate" their views over time, this is a somewhat bold statement to make. Franzen says the following of the study:
"Usually, the literalists tend to read the most frequently, but increased reading over time would moderate their conservatism."
Findings indicate that as Bible reading continues, people also become more opposed to abortion, the death penalty and expanding the government's role in fighting terrorism. While abortion is easy to pinpoint as a conservative issue, the others may vary in their association with either end of the partisan scale.
Also, "social justice" truly needs to be better defined before contending that conservative readers would "moderate" in their reading. Regardless, it comes as no surprise that those who spend more time reading the Bible would subsequently become more generous to those in need.