The Annual ‘State of the Bible’ Survey Proves Again that Just because People Own a Bible Does Not Mean They Know What Is In It

The America Bible Society's annual "State of the Bible" survey reveals that Americans don't know as much as they think they do. (Shutterstock)
The America Bible Society’s annual “State of the Bible” survey reveals that Americans don’t know as much as they think they do. (Shutterstock)

The Bible encourages the “repression of women,” and it’s silent on such fraught topics as war or slavery.

As least, that’s what about one in five U.S. adults believe. But they’re wrong.

The American Bible Society’s annual “State of the Bible” survey reveals “the people of the book are not people of this book,” said Geof Morin, chief communication officer for the society.

“We know 88 percent of people say they have a Bible. They think: ‘I have a Bible. I have had one for a long time. I must know what’s in it.’ But people overestimate their knowledge,” Morin said.

The ABS survey of 1,012 U.S. adults, conducted by Barna Research, found that 82 percent of U.S. adults consider themselves at least somewhat knowledgeable about the Bible.

However, he said, “43 percent can’t even name the first five books of the Bible.”

When it came to assessing what the Bible says on several critical social issues, many showed fuzzy knowledge of the attitudes and behaviors addressed in Scripture.

Most Christians correctly say the Bible discourages prostitution, gambling and pornography; that it encourages generosity, forgiveness and patience; and that it is most certainly not silent on issues such as slavery, war and homosexuality.

However, there were distinct divides between “practicing Christians” — those who consider their faith important, attend church regularly and believe they are born again — and “notional” Christians who wear the label but disengage from practice.

The “notionals” roughly aligned with people who said they had no religious identity on several questions, including what the Bible says about war or on women.

Morin acknowledged that “repression is strong language. But we wanted to address that within every religious denomination there’s some sense of male headship. That can be framed positively, as a view that all are called to serve one another. Or it can be seen negatively, as (setting up) first- or second-class citizenship.”

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Source: Deseret News | Religion News Service – Cathy Lynn Grossman

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