(RNS) Bible movies may be gaining ground at the box office, but fewer people are reading the original and taking it seriously.
The American Bible Society’s latest State of the Bible survey documents deep skepticism that the good book is a book of God.
“We are seeing incredible change in just a few years,” said Roy Peterson, company president.
The study, conducted annually by Barna Research, reveals:
- The most “committed” readers – who read the Bible almost daily and consider it sacred – now face “skeptics” who say it is just a book of stories and advice. Both groups measured 19 percent.
- While engaged couples have remained stable since 2011, skeptics have increased by 10 percentage points – since the same survey was conducted in 2011.
- Skeptics discount the number of people Barna calls “Bible-friendly,” those who read the Bible occasionally and consider it to be inspired by God. The “friendly” population fell to 37%, from 45% in 2011.
- The percentage of people who consider the Bible to be sacred fell to 79% from 86% in 2011.
The study is based on 2,036 interviews with American adults in January and February.
Peterson told RNS on Wednesday (April 9) that the statistics “sobering but not discouraging”.
The key, he said, is to “adjust our reach” to attract the next generation. Millennials, ages 18-29, top the skeptics tally:
- 64% say the Bible is sacred literature, compared to 79% of all adults.
- 35% say the Bible offers “everything a person needs to know to lead a meaningful life,” compared to half of all adults.
- 39% of millennials admit to never reading the Bible, compared to 26% of all adults.
“We need to find where they are suffering, what questions millennials are asking,” he said.
The company has already started down this path by creating Bible reading “trips” to meet people’s needs, he said. On its website, people can enter a word such as ‘hope’, ‘parenthood’, ‘job loss’ or ‘loneliness’ and be directed to a seven, 10 or 40 day journey of Bible selections designed to solve this problem. worry.
There are already more than 90 topics listed, he said, and “we are adding more strategic trips every day. We are invited to youth conferences as a Bible partner. We therefore consider this a very urgent mission.
The data confirms, Peterson said, that “we just can’t hand them a Bible and expect them to find the answers. We must spread the word to give the word of God a chance. It’s urgent.”
YS/MG FIN GROSSMAN