Over the summer, TheBlaze extensively covered how YouVersion, an online app that offers full access to the Bible from any smart phone or tablet, is revolutionizing the way Christians ingest scripture. But according to a new report from Religion News Service, believers aren't the only ones using the tool.
Atheists are also partaking in the wildly popular app -- but for very different reasons.
Religion News Service's Kimberly Winston recently spoke with Lauren, a 22-year-old chemistry major who regularly uses the tool to tout secularism. The student, who declined sharing her full name because her family is unaware of her atheism, uses YouVersion each week to challenge believers.
"I know of a lot of atheists who have come to their nonbelief by actually reading the Bible rather than just the fluffy stories they choose to tell you about in church," Lauren told Winston. "Reading the full story with all its contradictions and violence and sexism, it should make you think, ‘Is this really what I believe in?’ At least it did for me."
Screen shot from Bible.com
Lauren is actually pretty devout in her use of the app, as she said she regularly carves out time to find Christians on Twitter who use scripture to affirm that marriage should be limited to one man and one woman.
"I usually look up one of the many passages in the Bible that refer to different kinds of marriage ... and then I’ll screen shot it and send it to them," she said.
These passages generally focus on other types of matrimony such as polygamy. While many atheists claim that the holy book endorses these "alternative marriages," many Jewish and Christian scholars disagree, as TheBlaze has extensively noted.
Others have different reasons for using the tool.
Tom Amon, a 37-year-old atheist from Pittsburgh, Pa., told Winston that, much like Lauren, he uses the Bible app every night to debate believers on social media and the Internet.
But Brian Abate, who is also from Pittsburgh, uses the tool to keep up with a local pastor he once admired. Abate said that he gets the pastor's opinion and then uses the app to see scriptural meaning for himself, exploring the differences between different Bible translations.
While there are no definitive numbers calculating how many of the more than 115 million YouVersion app downloads are being used by non-believers, LifeChurch.tv, the house of worship that created YouVersion, is aware of the phenomenon.
The app's founder, Pastor Bobby Gruenewald, told Winston that he has heard of non-believers using the tool and that he views this a "positive thing," as it means the Bible is at least being brought into conversation.
While it's likely the vast majority of the downloads are being used to assist Christians in their faith walk, the atheist element is certainly intriguing. It shows that some non-believers have a deep interest in understanding the contents of the Bible, despite their theological disagreement with its merits.
Over the summer, Gruenewald spoke with TheBlaze about YouVersion's fascinating history and LifeChurch.tv's mission of connecting people to the Bible in innovative and new ways. At the time, he said that it is essential for the church to adapt and change with the times, especially on the technological front.
“I think it would be one of the most historic misses for the church if we don’t,” he said of harnessing the power of technology. “Our point of view is that we’re alive at this extremely unique time in history … there’s this exploding population … and you and I are occupying this space in history … that’s going straight to the roof — and at the same time, we have these tools and technologies that knit us together like never before.”
(H/T: Religion News Service)