Despite claims that religion and faith are on the decline in America, the majority of U.S. adults — 61 percent — recently reported a desire to read the Bible more regularly. And that hasn’t changed much since 2011, according to an analysis and study from the Barna Group and the American Bible Society.
Plus, 57 percent of U.S. adults said they read the Bible “because it draws them closer to God.”
Without a doubt, there’s clearly a desire among many — if not most — to spend more time reading the scriptures, though an important question emerges with so many people expressing a desire to do so: What, exactly, is standing in their way of meeting that goal?
As it turns out, people said being busy has held them back, with the pace of culture apparently playing a role in the frequency of Bible engagement.
“Among those who say their Bible reading decreased in the last year, the number one reason was busyness: Nearly six in 10 (58 percent) report being too busy with life’s responsibilities (job, family, etc.),” Barna said in a report released this week. “This is an increase of 18 points since 2014 (40 percent).”
But it’s not just a time issue, as there are other causes for decreased Bible reading, with 17 percent citing becoming an atheist or agnostic, 17 percent saying that leaving church altogether has had an impact and 12 percent expressing that they experienced something that caused them to doubt God or the Bible.
There are other reasons as well, as indicated in the below chart from Barna:
Some of the issues that had a smaller impact on Bible reading and engagement, though, include the idea that reading the book makes very little difference in a person’s life; just 6 percent of respondents agreed — and only 5 percent said increased reading was a result of a religious conversion to another faith.
On the flip side, Barna also found some of the factors that help increase Bible engagement, with any growing use being attributed to the belief that the scriptures are an important part of one’s’ faith journey (67 percent agreed), with 26 percent saying a difficult experience in life helped turn them to the Bible.
As it turns out, Bible reading has also remained pretty stable over the past few years. Read more about the results here.
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