Majority of Americans Still Want to Read the Bible Despite the Changing Times, Study Shows


For the last six years, many changes have happened in American society as a result of various factors. But there are some things that have remained constant, and one of them is this: Bible reading.

According to a recent study by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society, since 2011 the number of Americans desiring to read the Bible has remained stable. In answer to the question, "Do you wish that you read the Bible more or not?" 61 percent, or majority of U.S. adults, answered "yes" in 2016. The figure was also 61 percent in 2015; 62 percent in 2014; 61 percent in 2013; 60 percent in 2012; and 67 percent in 2011.

In a further validation of this result, when the respondents were asked, "Would you say that your own personal use of the Bible has increased, decreased or is about the same as one year ago?" 66 percent answered "stayed the same."

The numbers appear to run counter to claims that religion and faith are on the decline in America.

Moreover, in the latest 2016 survey, 57 percent of U.S. adults said they read the Bible "because it draws them closer to God."

The survey focused not only on the "desire" of the respondents to read the Bible but also on the reasons what motivates them to read the Bible and what hinders them from doing so.

Sixty-seven percent say they read the Bible because it has become an important part of their faith journey.

However, 58 percent say they have difficulty in finding time to read the Bible because they are too busy with life's responsibilities like working on their job and spending time with their family. "This is an increase of 18 points since 2014 (40 percent)," according to the Barna report.

Roxanne Stone, editor in chief of Barna Group, says their latest research further proved that "even with scepticism on the rise, Americans still hold the Bible in high regard."

With this in mind, she urges pastors and spiritual leaders to avoid the "guilt trip" approach in encouraging their flock to read the Bible, saying this is not an effective technique.

Instead, Stone says spiritual leaders should cultivate "an environment where Scripture reading feels central to a spiritual life." These leaders should also pay attention to the problems of their flock and "pastoring them during those times," using the Bible as "a comfort and a guide."

"Spiritual leaders should feel heartened by these numbers," Stone says. "People still see Scripture reading as a worthwhile pursuit. The key is helping people see Bible reading as essential and not merely aspirational."