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.”