New Study: Scripture Engagement Leads to Greater Neighborliness
Today’s State of the Bible release suggests that people who are rooted in the Bible tend to epitomize neighborliness better than others.
PHILADELPHIA, PA—American Bible Society today released the sixth chapter of their 11th annual State of the Bible report, which highlights cultural trends in the U.S. regarding spirituality and Scripture engagement. Today’s release suggests that people who are rooted in the Bible tend to epitomize neighborliness better than others. The first six chapters are currently available to download at StateoftheBible.org.
“Throughout history, followers of Jesus have gone to great lengths to serve others, even when it comes at great personal cost—epidemics, wars, poverty, hardship, disasters, and other traumatic world events have all been occasions for Christians to show God’s love in tangible ways. In an age known for polarization and division, we must serve each other and answer the biblical call to love our neighbors as ourselves,” said John Farquhar Plake, PhD and Director of Ministry Intelligence for American Bible Society. “Our differences can be largely overcome with the truth found in Scripture, and we can afford to display selfless, practical love to others because Christ first loved us.”
The findings come from a survey conducted by American Bible Society in January 2021, in which data was gathered from 3,354 online interviews with American adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For this year’s report, American Bible Society will release nine chapters throughout the year. The sixth chapter, Good Neighbors, reveals that even when accounting for all other variables, the more deeply people engage with the Bible, the more respectful they are of others.
Key findings analyzed in Chapter 6: Good Neighbors
- Those who practice their faith are significantly different from those who identify with a particular faith orientation (page 129).
- Those who practice their Christian faith and are rooted in Scripture (page 130) are more likely to exhibit good neighboring behaviors (page 124). These neighboring behaviors include volunteering in the community, helping a stranger, and donating money to charity.
- There are generational differences in neighboring as younger adults are more likely to engage in neighboring behaviors than older adults (page 126). Younger adults are more likely to give of their time while Elders are more likely to donate money to charity.
- Included in the concept of “Good Neighboring” is Civility. The State of the Bible measured civility by asking about attitudes of respect for a collection of occupational groups. There were fascinating findings on how respect differs among occupational groups and on the basis of Scripture engagement, race/ethnicity, and age (pages 131-136).
- Prosocial behaviors, which are behaviors done voluntarily for the benefit of others without the expectation of reciprocation or personal benefit, are linked to an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life (page 141).
- Bible Users agree that the Bible is a basis for good neighboring and leads them to engage in several prosocial behaviors: advocate for those who are oppressed by society, befriend people of other races, care for the environment, care for those who are in prison, befriend people of other religions, and welcome immigrants into their community (page 142).
- Practicing Christians are consistently more likely than non-practicing Christians to see the importance of civic engagement and engage in self-care. (pages 137-140).
- Those who score highest in Scripture engagement are most likely to agree the Bible leads them to engage in the following ways: welcome immigrants into my community, befriend people of other races, befriend people of other religions, care for those who are in prison, care for the environment, and advocate for those who are oppressed by society (pages 141-147).
- While age and ethnicity relate to attitudes toward neighbors and society, the strongest factor in neighboring behaviors seems to be practicing a Bible-based faith (page 146).
Between October and December 2021, American Bible Society will release three new chapters from the State of the Bible research study, including reports on the views and use of Scripture among church traditions and denominations, and the relationship between the Bible, money, and generosity.
To download the first six chapters of the State of the Bible 2021 ebook, visit StateoftheBible.org.
*For descriptions on how Scripture engagement was measured and reported, please see page 30 of the ebook available for download at StateoftheBible.org.
About American Bible Society
Since 1816, American Bible Society has been making the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message. One of the nation’s first and most enduring ministries, American Bible Society today advocates for all people to apply the Bible’s teachings to their lives in a way that transforms their relationship with God and others. For free Bible resources or to join the Bible cause, visit AmericanBible.org
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