Boomers and Gen-Xers are the ones keeping the Bible’s place in U.S. life alive.
This was a key finding in the American Bible Society’s 2017 State of the Bible report based on Barna Group survey data.
Thirty-nine percent of Boomers (aged 52 to 70) and 34 percent of Gen-Xers (33 to 51) read the Bible at least four times a week and agreed with the following descriptions: The Bible is the “actual word of God or inspired word with no errors” or the Bible is an “inspired word, [with] some factual errors.”
Only 17 percent of Millennials affirmed this view (18 to 31).
When it came to skepticism about the Bible – defined in the survey as “just another book of teachings written by men with stories and advice; do not believe the Bible was written to control or manipulate people” – 33 percent of Millennials agreed with this view. By comparison, 29 percent of Gen-Xers and 27 percent of Boomers did so.
Overall skepticism about the Bible declined slightly from 22 percent in 2016 to 19 percent in 2017.
Half of U.S. adults were classified as “Bible users,” defined as reading or listening to the Bible at least three or four times a year. Yet, “nearly one-third of adults say they never read, listen to or pray with the Bible (32 percent), a 5-percentage point increase over 2016,” Barna noted.
More women (55 percent) than men (45 percent) were likely to be “Bible users,” and Bible use declined with age – Elders (58 percent), Boomers (51 percent), Gen-Xers (48 percent) and Millennials (48 percent).
“Bible usage is high among Black, non-Hispanics. Two-thirds are Bible users (67 percent), compared to about half (49 percent) of White, non-Hispanics,” the report noted. “High levels of Bible usage are common among practicing Protestants (93 percent) but less common among practicing Catholics (64 percent) and non-practicing Christians (44 percent).”
The most read Bible translation is the King James Version (31 percent), with the New International Version coming in a distant second (13 percent).
The full report is available here.
Editor’s note: An EthicsDaily.com news brief about the 2016 State of the Bible report is available here.