By Helen Gibson
To some—like the GQ editors who put together this list—Bible reading is considered outdated and unnecessary.
Still, members of your congregation, like many other Americans, are likely to have a positive view of the Bible. But, compared to other groups of Christians and the general public, what is their relationship with the Word really like?
Evangelical Protestants, along with those from historically black Protestant traditions, are more likely than some others to read Scripture weekly, see the Bible as God’s Word, and participate in Scripture study or prayer groups, Pew Research indicates.
However, both groups claim to do so at rates lower than Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, according to Pew’s analysis of data from its 2014 Religious Landscape study.
Reading Scripture Regularly
When it comes to reading the Bible outside of religious services, 63 percent of evangelicals say they read Scripture at least once a week, while 61 percent of black Protestants say the same.
This is significantly higher than the overall rate of Scripture reading in the United States, with 35 percent of Americans saying they read the Bible at least once a week. It’s also higher than the rates for mainline Protestant (30 percent), Orthodox Christian (29 percent), and Catholic traditions (25 percent).
Similar to these findings, a 2017 study from Nashville-based Lifeway Research found about half of Americans with evangelical beliefs (49 percent) read a little bit of the Bible on a daily basis, compared to 16 percent of those without evangelical beliefs. The Lifeway study also found that Americans who attend church frequently are more likely to read the Bible daily.
However, Pew reports that Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, at 88 percent and 77 percent, respectively, are more likely than evangelicals or black Protestants to say they read Scripture regularly.
Seeing the Bible as God’s Word
Evangelicals and black Protestants also respond similarly when asked about the Bible’s authorship and how it should be interpreted.
Among evangelicals, 88 percent say the Bible is the Word of God, as opposed to being written by men, and 55 percent say it should be interpreted literally. Eighty-five percent of black Protestants agree the Bible was written by God, and 51 percent say it should be interpreted literally.
Among other groups, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are most likely to see the Bible as God’s Word, at rates of 94 and 91 percent, respectively. Catholics (64 percent), Orthodox Christians (63 percent), and mainline Protestants (62 percent) are each less likely to agree.
Overall, 60 percent of Americans say they view the Bible as God’s Word.
Connecting with Other Christians
Evangelical Protestants and historically black Protestants are equally likely to say they are involved in prayer or Scripture study groups at least weekly, at 44 percent.
Again, they fall well below the rates for Jehovah’s Witnesses (85 percent) and Mormons (71 percent).
However, only 19 percent of mainline Protestants, 18 percent of Orthodox Christians, and 17 percent of Catholics say they are part of prayer or Scripture study groups at least once a week. For Americans as a whole, the rate is 24 percent.
- Bible Not Seen as Essential By American Christians
- Bible Makes GQ’s List of ‘Books You Don’t Have to Read’
- Those Curious About the Bible Already Read It
- Black Americans Are the Most Bible-Engaged Ethnic Group
HELEN GIBSON (@_HelenGibson_) is a freelance writer in Cadiz, Kentucky.