Does the Bible still matter in 2012?
By Lamar Vest
After all the very visible fighting about public displays of religious symbols— from 10 Commandments plaques to graveyard crosses to faith-themed war memorials to holiday manger displays—you might have developed the impression that most Americans don’t think the Bible matters today and they like it that way.
You’d be wrong.
There is a lot of speculation about both the current role and the appropriate role of the Bible in America. But each year, American Bible Society puts the guessing aside and asks a sampling of Americans to tell us how they view and use the Bible and what they believe its role should be in America. Recently, American Bible Society released this year’s results from that research in the 2012 State of the Bible report.
The State of the Bible in America in 2012 can be summed up in a two words: encouraging and unsettling.
The research, commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Research, found that the majority of Americans (69%) believe the Bible provides answers on how to live a meaningful life. But while 79% believe they are knowledgeable about the Bible, 54% were unable to correctly identify the first five books of the Bible. And approximately half of Americans surveyed didn’t know the fundamental differences between the teachings of the Bible, Koran and Book of Mormon, with 46% percent saying they believe all three books teach the same spiritual truths.
While nearly half of Americans (47%) believe the Bible has too little influence in society—a far cry from the anti-faith picture often painted in culture—approximately half (46%) say they read the Bible no more than once or twice a year.
What The State of the Bible report also confirmed is that the lack of engagement with the Bible among Americans isn’t caused by a lack of access to it. Here in the United States, 85% of households own a Bible. Actually, most families own more than one, with a household average of 4.3 Bibles.
Looking more closely at the data, something really interesting emerges…
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