Bible reading graphic

“Among Americans: How much of the Bible have you personally read?” Graphic courtesy of LifeWay Research

The Bible may be a source of wisdom for many Americans but most don’t read it for themselves, a new survey shows.

More than half have read little or none of it, reports LifeWay Research.

“Even among worship attendees less than half read the Bible daily,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of the evangelical research firm based in Nashville, Tennessee.

“The only time most Americans hear from the Bible is when someone else is reading it.”

The survey of 1,000 people found disparate approaches to the Christian Scriptures. For instance, northeasterners are less likely to give it a look than people in other regions. And men are less inclined than women to pick it up.

One in five Americans have read the entire Bible at least once - including nine per cent who’ve read it through multiple times. Just over half (53 per cent) have read relatively little of it, and one in 10 haven’t read it at all.

Among those who read at least a few sentences of the Bible, slightly more than a fifth of Americans (22 per cent) read a little Scripture each day, taking a systematic approach. About a quarter (27 per cent) read parts others have suggested, and 16 per cent look up portions to help others. Almost one-fifth (19 per cent) reread their favorite passages.

Americans with evangelical beliefs are far more likely to read a little of the Bible each day than those without such beliefs (49 per cent vs 16 per cent). Protestants are more likely to read the book each day than Catholics (36 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively).

Researchers found that Americans tend to view the Bible positively, with half (52 per cent) saying it is a good source for morals. More than a third say it is helpful today (37 per cent), true (36 per cent) or life-changing (35 per cent). And far fewer say it is outdated (14 per cent), bigoted (8 per cent) or harmful (7 per cent).

So why don’t people read the Bible? They:

• Don’t prioritise it (27 per cent).

• Don’t have time (15 per cent).

• Have read it enough (13 per cent).

• Disagree with what it says (10 per cent).

• Don’t read books (9 per cent).

• Don’t see how it relates to them (9 per cent).

• Don’t have one (6 per cent).

The survey of 1,000 people, drawn from a panel designed to be representative of the US population, was conducted between 27th September to 1st October, 2016, and had an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.