Less Millennials Believe the Bible, but Believing Youth More Fervent in Faith, According to Study

Bible reading
(Photo : MapHobbit/Flickr/CC) Attendees of 'Resolved' Conference 2008 reading the Bible in the hallways of the conference site.

Though 55 percent of the millennials aged between 18 and 30 are likely to be "Bible skeptics," youths who do trust the Bible follow it better than older Christians, according to a new study by American Bible Society (ABS), InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and Barna Group.

Also, the percentage of teens under 17 who don't believe Bible (45 percent) is less than millennials who are skeptics.

Millennials and teens who read the Bible are frequent church-goers and say that their faith is very crucial to their lives.

About 40 percent of elders (born before WW II), 40 percent of baby boomers (born after WW II), and 51 percent of Gen-Xers (born between early 1960s and mid-1970s) identified themselves as Bible skeptics.

The study showed that practicing millennials maintain a high view of scripture, with 96 percent believing it is the Word of God, and the same number believing that it contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life.

About 71 percent of the Bible-loving millennials said that scriptures were their top source of moral truth. Among them, 39 percent said that they have discovered absolute moral truths and standards from the Bible. Only 16 percent relied on church for direction, and fewer (14 percent) depended on parents for moral guidance.

About 45 percent of non-Christian millennials think that Bible is just a book with teachings from men, but about 21 percent of them read Bible to feel closer to God.

"The good news is that, while more millennials are turning skeptical toward the Bible, we still see them reaching out to God during times of difficulty and to feel closer to God. For Christian ministries like American Bible Society, this means there is still an opportunity to encourage more millennials to engage with the Bible and experience its life-changing message," said Andrew Hood, managing director of communications at American Bible Society.

About 32 percent of all millennials said they never read the Bible regularly, and 26 percent said they read it at least once a week, which is less than the average of all adults in the US (38 percent).

But 26 percent of millennials -- compared to 18 percent of all adults -- said they increased their Bible application over the past year.

62 percent of non-Christian millennials have never read the Bible. When they see someone reading Bible in public, it evokes a sense of alienation among 21 percent of them, while 22 percent think those reading the Bible are politically conservative. 15 percent think public Bible readers are provocative. Only 7 percent felt encouragement and another 7 percent felt joy when they saw someone reading Bible.

27 percent of non-Christian millennials increased their Bible reading since last year after seeing changes in someone because of reading the Bible. In contrast, the same number have a very negative view of Bible, saying that they believe the Bible is a dangerous book of dogma, which has been used to oppress people over the centuries.

Practicing millennials have been engaged with the Bible on social media as well. About 81 percent posted scripture online last year, of whom 30 percent did that only few times a year, 25 percent a few times in a month, while 13 percent did it few times a week and another 13 percent wrote Bible verses or messages daily on digital platforms.

"Many Christians and Christian leaders are concerned about the next generation of Christians," says David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group. "And for good reason. There is certainly a well-documented trend of Millennials leaving church or turning away from their faith. However, this current study on perceptions of the Bible gives church leaders some very good news about the Good Book: Active young Christians are holding true to historical and orthodox views on the Bible. In many ways, their commitment to the Bible stands in stark contrast to typical stereotypes of younger Christians."

"For the most part, the Bible is flourishing in the screen age, particularly among the faithful," he went on. "Practicing Christian Millennials, in particular, are eager to see Bible-based content on the big screen and to engage with the Bible on the little screen by reading Scripture online and posting it to social media."

Tags American Bible Society (ABS), Barna Group, Millennials, Baby boomers, Gen-Xers

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