By Aaron Earls
One American in 5 (20 percent) is considered Bible-engaged, the highest number in four years, according to the American Bible Society’s 2017 State of the Bible. Other findings, however, indicate the future may not be as bright.
The Bible-engaged, those who view the Bible as the actual or inspired word of God and interact with it four times a week or more, had bottomed out at 17 percent the last two years. This year marked the first time the number had increased since 2012.
This year also saw the Bible skeptics drop for the first time since the study began in 2011, as it fell to 19 percent. Those who view the Bible as “just another book of teachings written by men” had grown from 10 percent in 2011 to 22 percent last year.
For the first time since 2013, there are more Bible-engaged Americans than Bible skeptics.
However, other findings from the study give a less optimistic outlook for Bible believers.
The younger people are, the less likely they are to be engaged with the Bible. The average age for the Bible-engaged American is 53, while the average Bible skeptic is 10 years younger.
While millennials account for around a quarter of the Bible-friendly (25 percent) and Bible-neutral (26 percent) and a third of the Bible skeptics (32 percent), they are only 17 percent of the Bible-engaged.
Bible skeptics are more than just skeptical of Scripture; they are hostile toward it. More than three-quarters (78 percent) believe the Bible was written to control or manipulate other people.
With that, more Americans are completely uninvolved with Scripture on a yearly basis. Almost a third (32 percent) say they never read, listen to or pray with the Bible. That’s a 5-point jump in the past year.
AARON EARLS (Aaron.Earls@lifeway.com) is online editor of Facts & Trends.