The American Bible Society “State of the Bible 2014” is a study of U.S. adults. This annual report was commissioned by the American Bible Society with research conducted by the Barna Group. The objectives of the study was a focus on Perceptions of the Bible, Bible ownership, Bible engagement, Bible literacy, moral decline and social impact, and giving to non-profit organizations.
The annual survey gives the American Bible Society information on what is happening in the culture, why there is less connecting of moral and political issues, and areas where it can work to strengthen biblical literacy.
Perceptions of the Bible
Americans were more than seven times likely to name the Bible (79%) when asked to name books they consider sacred literature or holy books. The second named book as sacred literature was the Koran at 12%.
Half of Americans (50%) agree the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life. Just 18% of Americans agree that the Bible, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truth.
Americans that believe the Bible has too little influence in today’s U.S. society decreased by six percent (50%), which is statistically significant. Practicing Protestants and Catholics are more inclined to believe the Bible has too little influence while those that are non-Christian or of no faith believe the Bible has too much influence.
Bible ownership remains strong with 88% of households owning a Bible with an average of three Bibles in their homes. There was no significant change in the past three years on how often people read the Bible. Americans that read the Bible daily is 15%, with 13% reading the Bible several times a week. The top reason for reading the Bible (56%) was that it brings them closer to God.
Nine out of ten Bible readers (89%) read a print version of the Bible. Although each year has seen an increase of digital formats to search for Bible content (35% smart phone, 44% internet). With one-quarter using an e-reader format such as Kindle or iPad to read Bible content (24%).
There were no significant changes in people who believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God; Catholics (50%) and Protestants (40%). However there was an increase in the number of people who believe the Bible is just another book of good teachings (18%).
The majority of people (69%) consider themselves moderately or somewhat knowledgeable about the Bible. 43% of Americans can correctly name the first five books of the Bible, with 69% of practicing Protestants being able to name the first five books, “Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy”.
The research uncovered that one in five adults wrongly believes that the Bible encourages the “repression of women,” and is silent on such topics as war and slavery. The most common behaviors Americans feel the Bible encourages is forgiveness (80%), generosity (70%), and patience (69%)
More than four out of five Americans (81%) believe that morality is on the decline in America.
The full survey is online in a pdf.
Online: American Bible Society: The State of the Bible 2014 (pdf)
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