Increasing share of young adults say the Bible has transformed their lives: poll

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

(CP) New research reveals that the share of young adults who think the Bible has had a transformative effect on their lives has increased even as a majority of them remain "Scripture Disengaged."

The American Bible Society released the first installment of its State of the Bible USA2024report Thursday. The first chapter, titled "The Bible in America Today," examines the incidence of Bible usage and Bible reading in the United States in addition to sampling respondents' views on the effects of the Bible on their lives. The information in the report is based on responses collected from 2,506 U.S. adults between Jan. 4 and 23, 2024, with a margin of error of +/-2.73 percentage points.

One question included in the survey asked respondents if they agreed that "the message of the Bible has transformed my life." A slightly higher share of those surveyed in 2024 (58%) either "somewhat" or "strongly" agreed that the Bible had a transformative effect on their lives compared to 2023 (57%).

The percentages of adults belonging to Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, who "somewhat" or "strongly" agreed about the transformative effect of the Bible on their lives in both 2023 and 2024 matched the figures for the population as a whole.

The share of respondents in Generation Z, the youngest group of American adults defined as those born in 1997 or later, that cited the Bible as a source of transformation in their lives increased from 50% in 2023 to 54% in 2024. American Bible Society Chief Program Officer and Editor-in-Chief of the State of the Bible series John Farquhar Plake, reacted to this statistic in a statement published Thursday.

"Our youngest adults show signs of interest in the Bible, curiosity about it, and transformative interaction with it," he said. "If this trend continues, we have good reason for hope."

Baby Boomers, adults born between 1946 and 1964, were the only generation that saw a larger increase in the percentage of respondents who credit the Bible as a transformational influence in their lives. Sixty-nine percent of Baby Boomers "somewhat" or "strongly" agreed that the Bible had such an effect on their lives in 2024, a 5% jump from the 64% who said the same last year.

On the other hand, the percentage of millennials, referring to the adults born between 1981 and 1996, who either "somewhat" or "strongly" agreed that the Bible transformed their lives dropped from 50% in 2023 to 48% this year. Millennials were also the only generation to have more people say they read the Bible less frequently in 2024 compared to 2023, with 12% of respondents in this age group reporting that their Bible reading has decreased as 11% told pollsters that their Bible reading has increased.

Overall, 15% of respondents said their Bible reading increased in the past year while 10% said the opposite. More than twice the amount of Generation Z users surveyed (21%) said their Bible reading increased over the past year than those who said it decreased (9%). Sixteen percent of Boomers and those born before 1946 witnessed an increase in Bible reading along with 15% of Generation X adults. By contrast, 10% of the oldest adults and 9% of Generation X adults reported a drop in Bible reading.

The survey also recorded a decrease in both the percentage and raw number of Bible users in 2024, both of which reached the lowest level on record in the history of the State of the Bible report. The report defines a Bible user as someone who interacts with Scripture at least three or four times a year outside of church services. The number of Bible users fell to a record low of 99 million in 2024 as the percentage of Bible users dropped to a record low of 38%.

The number of Americans who meet the criteria to qualify as "Scripture Engaged" based on their responses to questions examining how often they read the Bible, what impact it has on their relationships with God and others as well as the significance of its teachings when it comes to their decision making barely budged over the past year. However, the 47 million "Scripture Engaged" recorded in 2023 and 2024 represents a substantial dip from the 71 million measured in 2020.

"Increasingly, the Bible must compete for our attention in an ever-busier world," Plake stated in response to the findings about scripture engagement. "The State of the Bible survey bears this out as we see Scripture engagement decreasing over the last few years, especially in younger generations."

As Plake's remarks suggested, scripture engagement is significantly lower among Generation Z adults (11%) and millennials (12%) than among Generation X (21%) and the oldest American adults (24%). A solid majority of Generation Z (61%) and millennial adults (65%) fall into the "Bible Disengaged" category, which is assigned to respondents who receive the lowest scores on the Scripture Engagement Scale.

A smaller majority of Generation X adults (58%) are "Bible Disengaged" while less than half (49%) of the oldest American adults are.

© The Christian Post