PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia-based American Bible Society has released the seventh chapter of its annual “State of the Bible” report, which focuses in part on Scripture engagement and political identity. It found that, for those surveyed, a significant percentage of each affiliation is Bible disengaged, meaning that they rarely read God’s Word or use it to make decisions about their lives.
“Across the spectrum, Bible disengaged is the most common category for American adults from all political party affiliations,” the report states. “Nearly two thirds of those not registered to vote (61%) are Bible disengaged. More than half of Independents (52%) and Democrats (47%) score Bible disengaged.”
And, even though Republicans are more apt to have some sort of engagement with the Bible, “[a]mong political conservatives, Bible disengaged is also the largest category, claiming more than a third (35%) of registered Republican voters.”
According to the definition of “Bible disengaged” in the report, those “people interact with the Bible infrequently, if at all, and it has a minimal impact on their lives. … As a group, Bible disengaged people rarely seek out the Bible, tending to encounter it through others, rather than by choice.”
Only 10 percent of Republicans were Bible centered, meaning that they read the Scriptures at least four times a week and make it central to their life choices, and only 4 percent of Democrats fell into that category.
“When considering political affiliation in light of Scripture engagement, no group of American voters has a preponderance of adherents who are Scripture engaged,” the report noted.
It said that Republicans generally fell into the “Bible neutral category,” meaning that they “interact with the Bible sporadically with little influence from the Bible.” Democrats, Independents and those not registered to vote were, on average, Bible disengaged, meaning that they read and apply it even less.
On the upside, the report also showed that those who read the Bible more frequently and allow it to influence their lives are more likely to attest that it bears weight on their beliefs politically and socially.
Respondents were asked about their views on what the Bible says about three political categories: “being aware of civic and government issues,” “personally participating in civic and government issues,” and “submitting to government leaders.” Those who read the Bible more often were more apt to agree that the Word of God addresses these matters.
“Almost three quarters of Bible centered (74.4%) and Bible engaged (71.2%) respondents indicated that the teachings of the Bible somewhat encourage or strongly encourage awareness of civic and government issues. More than two-thirds of Scripture engaged respondents affirmed the Bible’s encouragement to personally participate in civic and government issues (71.8% Bible centered, 65.7% Bible engaged),” the report outlines.
“Nearly three-quarters of Bible centered (73.5%) and three-fifths of Bible engaged (63.1%) respondents also believe the Bible encourages submitting to government leaders.”
Those who read the Bible more often were also more likely to state that the Scriptures spur them to befriend those of other races, to welcome immigrants and to advocate for those who are oppressed. On a scale of one to six, those who were “Bible centered” scored a 5.5 in regard to the Bible’s bearing on their befriending those of other races, while those were “Bible disengaged” scored a 3.4.
Speaking positively on the matter, the American Bible Society said, “Across the political spectrum and the myriad of social challenges facing the United States today, Americans who look to the Bible for timeless wisdom are finding it. … [T]he evidence suggests that when people of faith consistently interact with the Bible, it comes to inform their choices — even their political and social choices — and transform the way they relate to others.”
As previously reported, in July, the American Bible Society outlined as part of its State of the Bible report that only 9% of respondents read their Bible on a daily basis, the lowest figure in the decade that the research has been conducted.
2 Peter 1:3-4 states that God has “given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
2 Timothy 2:15 also urges, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”