Many Americans, regardless of political leaning or affiliation, appear to be disengaged from the Bible and aren’t impacted by Scripture, a report from the American Bible Society reveals.
According to the seventh chapter of the American Bible Society’s “State of the Bible” report, many American adults who participated in its recent study fall into the category known as “Bible Disengaged.” The study was conducted twice: first with 2,010 interviews before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and a second time with 3,020 interviews during the time it spread to other countries including the U.S.
The report says the “Bible Disengaged” are people who “interact with the Bible infrequently, if at all, and it has a minimal impact on their lives.” Generally, the Bible Disengaged rarely “seek out the Bible” and end up encountering it “through others, rather than by choice.”
Of the people who participated in the study, about two-thirds (66.3%) “never read the Bible on their own,” while three in ten participants (30.1%) “read it only once or twice a year.”
The report also noted that there are many who are disengaged from the Bible regardless of their political stand.
According to the report, about 61% of those who did not register to vote are Bible Disengaged, nearly half of registered Democrats (47%) are Bible Disengaged, and more than half of Independents (52%) are also Bible Disengaged. Interestingly, 35% of Republicans, perceived as more conservative and more likely to read and follow the Bible, are also Bible Disengaged, the report said.
The report also provides details regarding the percentage of those who are considered “Scripture Engaged” and fall into two categories: “Bible Centered,” or those who are at least “Bible Engaged.” The Scripture Engaged are those who have more interactions with the Bible as compared to those who are Bible Disengaged.
The Bible Centered person normally reads the Bible more frequently than the Bible Engaged, sometimes reading more than four days a week. The Bible Engaged, on the other hand, reads the Bible at least once a week. Unlike the Bible Disengaged, these people encounter Scripture by choice, and are reading it for themselves.
A Bible Centered person’s life choices and relationships are centrally based on the values and principles taught by Scripture, the report noted. A Bible engaged person’s choices and relationships, on the other hand, are “mostly influenced” by God’s Word.
According to the report, of all respondents that are Scripture Engaged, one in seven belong to those who did not register to vote (14%), one in six are Independents (17%), one in five are registered voting Democrats (20%), and a third of all of them are Republicans (33%).
The report also indicated how exposure to the Bible and its teachings can affect a person’s values.
For example, it noted how New York Times columnist David Brooks, in an op-ed titled “How Faith Shapes My Politics,” said he was taught various Bible stories but didn’t believe in them. The values in these stories, such as the stories of Moses, David and Goliath, and Ruth and Naomi, however, were true:
“During my decades as an atheist, I thought the stories were false but the values they implied were true. These values – welcome the stranger, humility against pride – became the moral framework I applied to think through my opinions, to support various causes.”