While most Americans generally think positively of the Bible, not many have actually read much of it, according to a new survey released on Tuesday.
According to the survey, conducted by LifeWay Research, 20 percent of Americans have read the entire Bible at least once. Twelve percent said they read almost all of it, and 15 percent said they read at least half of it.
But a greater proportion have read bits and pieces of the Bible, the study showed. Thirty percent said they have read several passages or stories, and 13 percent said they’ve only read a few sentences.
Ten percent said they haven’t read it at all.
Among those who have read the Bible at least a little bit, the greatest proportion said they have approached personal Bible reading by looking things up when they have a need (30 percent). A little more than a quarter (27 percent) said they have read the Bible to look up verses or sections suggested by others.
Meanwhile, a little less than a quarter (22 percent) said they read the Bible every day, systematically.
When asked what terms describe the Bible, most associated the holy book with positive terms.
More than half of Americans believe the Bible is a “good source of morals” (52 percent). Many said that it is “helpful today” (37 percent), “true” (36 percent), and “life-changing” (35 percent).
There are various reasons that Americans don’t read the Bible more, the study also found. The largest proportion — more than a quarter — said they don’t read it because they don’t prioritize it (27 percent). The next most common reason was that they don’t have time (15 percent).
How are the pastors encouraging people to read the Bible more? Most do so by reminding people in their sermons (86 percent) and gifting Bibles to those who need one (86 percent).
Many also offer a printed Bible-reading plan (64 percent), an approach most likely to be taken by pastors of churches with 250 or more congregants (80 percent).
Meanwhile, younger adults read less of the Bible than the elders, according to the survey results. Those between 18 to 24 years of age were the most likely to say they haven’t read the Bible at all (25 percent), and the least likely to say they read almost all of it (2 percent).
Males are also more likely than females to say that they do not read the Bible on their own (39 percent, as opposed to 31 percent).