The number of Americans who read Scripture at least four times a week and believe that it is the inspired word of God has fallen to just under 1 in 5, according to new research from the American Bible Society (ABS).
The same percentage of Americans (19 percent) are now “antagonistic” toward the Bible, reading it less than once per month and believing it is a book of teachings written by men that contain stories and advice.
Thus, the “percentage of Scripture haters now equals Scripture lovers,” notes the press release for the 2014 edition of ABS’s annual State of the Bible report, conducted by Barna Group. The main reason: millennials. (Full infographic below.)
ABS previously proclaimed in 2013 that the Bible had gained 6 million new antagonists. This year, it writes:
Since 2011, antagonism toward the Bible has risen from 10 percent to 19 percent of those surveyed. During the same period, the percentage considered “Bible-friendly” dropped from 45 percent to 37 percent, while “Bible-engaged” remained steady. The percentage of those considered neutral toward the Bible, 26 percent in 2014, has remained statistically unchanged.
While 46 percent of adults say they now read the Bible once a year or less, 15 percent report reading it daily and 13 percent read several times a week, compared with 9 percent who read once a week and 9 percent who read once a month. Bible readers, on average, read it for 35 minutes at a time.
Most people believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God with no errors (30 percent) while another 23 percent believe it should be taken as the literal word of God. Fifteen percent believe that while inspired, the Bible has some historical or factual errors, and 10 percent believe that while Scripture can teach us about God, it wasn’t inspired by him.
That leaves 18 percent “express strong skepticism,” believing that the stories and advice were written solely by men.
While the percentage of adults who read the Bible hasn’t changed statistically over the past three years, Barna did ask those who increased or decreased their reading about their motivation.
SOURCE: Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
Christianity Today: GLEANINGS