Indeed, more than half of blacks in the United States (54%) – both Christians and non-Christians – report reading the Bible or other holy scriptures at least once a week outside of church services, compared to 32 % of whites and 38% of Hispanics, according to data from the 2014 Religious Landscape Study. Indeed, relatively few blacks (24%) say they read the Bible little or never, against 50% of whites and 40% of Hispanics.
Among Christian groups, 61% of those who are members of the historically black Protestant tradition (more than half of all black Americans) read the scriptures at least once a week, a level similar to that observed among those in the tradition Evangelical Protestant (63%). In addition, those who belong to the historically black Protestant tradition are much more likely than Catholics (25%) and traditional Protestants (30%) to say that they read the scriptures at least once a week, although less likely. than Jehovah’s Witnesses (88%) and Mormons (77%).
A significant portion of all blacks (77%) also say the Bible is the word of God (as opposed to being âwritten by menâ), compared to 57% of whites and 65% of Hispanics. Among those in the historically black Protestant tradition, 85% say they believe the Bible is the word of God, a level more comparable to that observed among those in the Evangelical Protestant tradition (88%), Mormons (91%) and witnesses of Jehovah (94%) than among Catholics (64%) and Protestants (62%).
Black people on the whole are also more likely than people of other racial or ethnic groups to believe that the Bible or other scriptures should be interpreted literally. About half (51%) of black Americans think this way, compared to 26% of whites and 38% of Hispanics. Among those of historically black Protestant tradition, 59% share this point of view, against 24% of traditional Protestants and 26% of Catholics. On this issue, the opinions of those belonging to the historically black Protestant tradition are more comparable to those of evangelical Protestants (55%).
Another sign of the importance of the Bible to African Americans is their participation in prayer and scripture study groups. (Our question did not differentiate between the two types of groups.) Across all religions, black people in the United States are more likely to attend prayer or scripture study groups at least once a day. week (39%) than whites (22%) and Hispanics. (27%). And people of historically black Protestant tradition are as likely to do so (44%) as those of evangelical tradition (44%) and more likely to do so than Catholics (17%) and mainline Protestants (19%). ). They are less likely to participate in weekly prayer and scripture study groups than Mormons (71%) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (85%).
The populations of each of these religious traditions include people of different races and ethnicities. Even belonging to the historically black Protestant tradition is not entirely black, with 6% describing themselves differently, for example white, Hispanic, or from another race or racial mix. That being said, the majorities in most of the major religious traditions in the United States are white.