Newly Released - 12th Annual State of the Bible Report: Scripture Reading Decreased Among Americans
The Church must seize this unique moment to advocate for a Bible-informed, relational, and generous faith
American Bible Society today released the first chapter of the 12th annual State of the Bible report, which highlights cultural trends in the U.S. regarding faith and the Bible. Today’s release shows that while overall Bible reading has dramatically decreased over the last year, nearly two-thirds of people who seldom or never read the Bible indicate some curiosity toward Scripture. The first chapter, The Bible in America, is available to download at StateoftheBible.org.
“Our research clearly shows that when people read the Bible and apply its message, it brings them hope and introduces them to full life in Christ. That’s why it’s disheartening to see that millions of Americans have lost interest in the Bible. And millions more are struggling to connect Scripture to their daily lives,” said John Farquhar Plake, PhD and Director of Ministry Intelligence for American Bible Society. “We can’t tell how long this disruption will last, but we know that church leaders and other Bible advocates have a tremendous opportunity to help people in their communities understand and apply Scripture. Now is a critical time to point our neighbors to the good news of hope found in God’s Word.”
State of the Bible 2022 findings come from a survey in January 2022 conducted by American Bible Society in collaboration with NORC at the University of Chicago, which produced 2,598 online or telephone responses from American adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Scripture Engagement is at a historic low in America, registering now at just 19% of American adults. The Bible Disengaged category grew by 45.2 million adults in a single year. This is the single largest disruption in Scripture Engagement ever recorded in the 12 years of conducting the State of the Bible survey (page xii).
- In the past year, nearly 26 million Americans decreased or stopped interacting with Scripture. Since 2018, approximately 47–49% of American adults have been identified as Bible Users; this year, however, showed a 10-percent decrease to 39% (pages xii, 17).
- Nearly two-thirds of people who seldom or never read the Bible (non-Bible Users) indicated some curiosity in what the Bible has to say to them. One-third of non-Bible Users said they were “very” or “extremely” curious (page 3).
- Nearly half of American adults still agree that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life. Fewer than one-third disagree (page 14).
- A quarter of Bible Users said one of their greatest frustrations regarding reading Scripture was that they “never seem to have enough time.” This complaint was common among all age groups. A top answer for Gen Z and Millennials was “I don’t know where to start,” which was also a significant hurdle for the Movable Middle* and the Bible Disengaged* (page 26).
Between May and December 2022, American Bible Society will release eight new chapters in the State of the Bible 2022 story—including reports on the tools and technology people are using to engage with the Bible, faith across generations with interesting findings on Generation Z, differences in Americans’ faith from that of their mothers, and the influence of the Bible on philanthropy.
To download the first chapter of the State of the Bible 2022 ebook, visit StateoftheBible.org.
*Scripture Engagement is defined as consistent interaction with the Bible that shapes a person’s choices and transforms their relationships with God, self, and others. For descriptions on how Scripture Engagement was measured and reported, including information on the Movable Middle and the Bible Disengaged, please see page 33 of the ebook available for download at StateoftheBible.org.
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