One bright spot of the pandemic is that millions of Americans have been turning to the Bible for comfort and direction.
The number of Americans who opened the Bible at least once increased by 7 percent in 2020, according to an American Bible Society/Barna. The survey estimates that 181 million Americans opened a Bible in 2020 compared to 169 million who did so in 2019. The American Bible Society and Barna said Bible reading was up significantly in 2020.
The Barna survey also revealed an increase in the percentage of Americans who regularly use the Bible. In January, 16 percent of U.S. adults said they read the Bible most days (at least four) during the week, an increase from 12 percent who answered that way one year earlier.
Additionally, the percentage of “Bible users” – a category that includes those who read it at least three to four times a year – increased to 50 percent in 2020 after falling to 48 percent in 2019, the latter being a 10-year low. One in four Americans in January said they read the Bible more now than they did in 2019.
One in four (24 percent) Americans in January said they read the Bible more now than they did in 2019.
“Over the past year, Americans have faced a once-in-a-century pandemic, along with significant political and social unrest,” said John Farquhar Plake, director of ministry intelligence for the American Bible Society. “However, our research shows that in the midst of incredible pressure, Americans are finding hope and resilience in the Bible. There’s an astounding opportunity right now for the \church to answer our nation’s pervasive trauma and pain with the hope and healing of God’s word.”
People seek comfort from the Bible during pandemic
People are looking to the Bible for comfort according to the survey.
“When gathered in these sections, American comforts in 2021 fall in this order: relationship (53%), activity (52%), substance (46%), and spiritual (44%),” the ABS said. “Women are more likely to engage with certain sources of comfort, particularly relational and spiritual sources.
“The most popular comfort choice from all respondents is seeking out a family member (43%), followed by prayer and/or meditation (38%). Food is the third most popular option for the general American population, chosen by one in three (34%). Reading the Bible ranks seventh, overall (23%).”
The percentage of Americans who say they never use the Bible fell to 29 percent, its lowest point since 2016. It’s not only Christians who read the Bible: 37 percent of those who self-identify with other religions read the Bible at least three to four times a year, an analysis of the survey said.
“This suggests that many people of other religions are interested enough to interact with the Bible, at least occasionally,” the analysis said.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice