Bible reading

Survey: Americans Say Bible is Helpful, but Don’t Read It

on April 27, 2017

The vast majority of Americans appreciate Christian Scriptures enough to own a Bible, but according to a new survey the Good Book is collecting dust on most household bookshelves.

Over half of Americans have read little or none of the Bible, according to findings released Tuesday (April 26) by LifeWay Research.

“Most Americans don’t know first-hand the overall story of the Bible—because they rarely pick it up,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Even among worship attendees less than half read the Bible daily. The only time most Americans hear from the Bible is when someone else is reading it.”

Only 11 percent of survey respondents said they have read all of the Bible. Even less (9 percent) have read all of the Bible multiple times.


The survey points out those who hold evangelical beliefs are more likely (49 percent) to read a little bit of the Bible each day than those without evangelical beliefs (16 percent). Moreover, 39 percent of respondents who attend church services at least once a month are more likely to read a few Scripture verses each day.

Of those Americans who said they do read the Bible, the survey found:

  • 22 percent read a few passages each day
  • 30 percent look up passages on a need-to-know basis
  • 19 percent reread their favorite passages
  • 17 percent flip open to Bible and read random passages
  • 27 percent read passages recommended by others
  • 16 percent look up passages to help others

Despite fears of Western secularization, the survey found most Americans hold a positive view of the Bible. Some 37 percent see the Bible as a helpful source of encouragement in present situations while 52 percent appreciate it as a good source for moral guidelines.


So why aren’t more Americans reading the Bible regularly?

Among the number of reasons given for not reading the Bible, by far and away the most common cause given by respondents (27 percent) was a lack of priority in their life. For 15 percent of respondents, busy schedules simply prevent Bible reading. Also among the reasons given was 13 percent said “they’ve read it enough” and 9 percent said “they don’t read books.”

“Scripture describes itself as ‘living and effective,’ according to the book of Hebrews,” McConnell said. “Those who have a habit of reading through the Bible a little each day say they have experienced this helpful, life-changing quality. Those who approach the book differently tend to say the Bible is positive but much less personal.”

  1. Comment by Xerxesfire on April 27, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    Sadly, too many Christians are Biblically illiterate. Ironically, the Bible talks about the “great falling away” in the end times of which I believe we may already be living in now. Not reading the Bible certainly will help the Enemy in this regard.

  2. Comment by Pete on October 25, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    The great falling away? Even the writers knew a time would come when people discover their book is B.S!

    You worship a damn blood cult. Knock it off.

  3. Comment by Byrom on April 29, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    I have gotten back into reading the Bible, on my own and as a member of several groups doing Bible studies. I have been through the entire Bible at least once, but had forgotten particularly parts of the Old Testament. But probably what bothers the most is the number of Bibles, in several translations, I own. I think about fellow believers in Jesus Christ around the world who don’t even have one Bible. We in the United States are so blessed with our easy access to Bibles, which we too often take for granted.

  4. Comment by Glen Kissel on April 29, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    I’m reading my Bible.

  5. Comment by Lifechanging on September 14, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    I finished reading the Bible for the first time a few months ago. It took me less than a year reading at least a bit almost everyday. I have started on round 2 with a different translation. At 28 I wish I had read it sooner.

    I’m not a bit surprised most Christians haven’t read it. Without the label of Christian you would never be able to guess these people have any connection to the Bible. What I’ve experienced at churches and living in one of many bible belts in the US and what I read in the Bible is as different as night and day.

    I wish I could say something to encourage people to just pick it up and try, but with multiple Bibles in the average home… It’s clear God’s word has been willfully rejected. Which is just sad, as an avid reader this is easily my new favorite book.

    More people might read the actual word of God if they spent less time glad handing at churches that only serve to drive more folks away from Christ. Of course, if people read the Bible at home for free there would be less money lining the pockets of the church.

  6. Comment by LG on November 27, 2017 at 4:38 am

    Are we not living epistles read of all men. Aren’t we called to make disciples. Pray for those who have the gift of teaching and exhortation to encourage Bible reading and more importantly Bible study.

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