What percentage of people read the Bible?

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VATICAN LETTER May-2-2008 (840 words) Backgrounder. With graphic posted May 1. xxxi

Not an easy read: Survey indicates Bible hard to understand
http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0802435.htm
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Bible: Most people in Europe and North America have one and some of them actually read it, but more than half of them say it is difficult to understand.

A survey commissioned by the Catholic Biblical Federation found that even those who reported reading the Bible said it was not easy to understand.

Luca Diotallevi, the Rome-based sociology professor who coordinated the survey's working group, said, "This is very important: People described the Bible as difficult whether or not they said they read it."

"The people of God are asking for help reading the Bible," he said in an April 30 interview.

The Catholic Biblical Federation commissioned the survey as part of its preparation for the October world Synod of Bishops, which will focus on the Bible.

During an April 28 Vatican press conference, the federation and GfK-Eurisko, which conducted the survey, presented preliminary results from nine countries: the United States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Russia.

The survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted in November with 13,000 adults.

Asked, "In the past 12 months have you read any passage from the Bible?" 75 percent of U.S. adults said "yes."

Their European counterparts were far behind them, but Diotallevi said the results coincide with other surveys on the differences between U.S. and European religious attitudes and practices.

Diotallevi said a few more Protestants than Catholics reported having and reading the Bible, but the difference was so slight that it "was not statistically relevant."

The percentage of Europeans affirming they had read a Bible passage in the previous year varied from a high of 38 percent in Poland to a low of 20 percent in Spain.

But the huge differences all but disappeared when those surveyed were asked whether they considered the Bible's content to be "easy" or "difficult."

The spread of those who said it was difficult went from 56 percent in the United States to 70 percent in Germany.

The percentage of respondents who said they had a Bible at home was 93 percent in the United States, 85 percent in Poland, 75 percent in Italy, 74 percent in Germany, 67 percent in both the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, 65 percent in Russia, 61 percent in Spain and 48 percent in France.

The survey designers also tested for what they defined as an individual's "index of biblical knowledge," by asking seven very basic questions, such as "Are the Gospels part of the Bible?" and "Did Jesus write a book of the Bible?"

Diotallevi said the scores of Catholics and Protestants were not significantly different because while slightly more Protestants reported reading the Bible "they have a greater tendency toward fundamentalism, giving what we would consider a wrong answer. For example, many of them maintain that Jesus is the author of the Gospels."

When asked to describe the Bible, the most popular answer in every country except Germany was, "The Bible is the inspired word of God, but not everything in the Bible should be taken literally, word for word."

In Germany, 40 percent chose the phrase about the Bible being inspired, but more respondents -- 42 percent -- said, "The Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts."

Diotallevi described as fundamentalist those who chose the response: "The Bible is the actual word of God, which must be taken literally, word for word."

Poland was the country with the highest percentage of fundamentalists, with 34 percent affirming the statement. In the United States 27 percent said it was literally God's word and in Italy 23 percent said so.

One statistic bishops are expected to discuss during the synod is the relatively infrequent use of the Bible for prayer, the "lexio divina" promoted by the church.

Survey respondents who said they prayed were asked, "How do you do it?"

While 37 percent of U.S. respondents and 32 percent of Polish respondents said they use the Bible to pray, only 9 percent of people in the United Kingdom, France and Italy reported praying with the Bible and only 6 percent of Spaniards said they used the Bible for their prayers.

In France and in Italy, the top answer was, "I recite words that I know by heart."

In all the other countries, the most popular method of private prayer was using one's own words.

Those interviewed also were asked about their political orientation; in order to have comparable statistics, the survey did not ask people which party they belonged to, but rather to describe themselves as right wing, center-right, center, center-left or left wing.

He said the number of people who read the Bible "was more or less equal" in each of the political categories.

"But on individual issues, reading the Bible was strongly predictive," Diotallevi said. The statistical breakdowns were not available in late April, but he said those who reported reading the Bible were those most likely to oppose abortion and euthanasia.

END Copyright (c) 2008 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250 How come our people don't read the Bible any more? Mark Brown (Bible Society in NZ) is posting in parts a "talk" he gave, to "a Christian Leadership Conference on the topic of Bible in the church today" in part one he points out the shocking statistics on Bible reading among Kiwi (and even worse[!] US Christians). The Bible Society undertook some research that displayed only 21% of the more than 2,000 church attending participants read their Bible daily. Twenty one percent. Twenty two percent stated they read it at least weekly with the remaining 57% which absolutely should blow you away. I hope it does, because this is a crisis. The remaining 57% saying they either read the Bible occasionally or hardly ever - 22%. Now similar studies recently conducted in the U.S. stated that only 12%. In this study in the U.S. which is quite large, 12% said they read the Bible regularly. Twelve percent! This is an issued that faces the Western Church and I've had the opportunity of doing a little travelling, chatting to colleagues in other western Countries, in the U.S., U.K and even Australia. And this is the problem they face. This is an epidemic. Why have a book if you never read it? http://sciencepolitics.blogspot.com/2005/05/why-have-book-if-you-never-read-it.html Some interesting statistics, via Jane: Some statistics:

* About 92 percent of American own at least one copy of the Bible.
* The average household has 3 copies.
* About 67 percent of Americans say that the Bible holds the answers to the basic questions of life.
* The Bible is the world's all-time best seller.
* At least 20 million copies are sold each year.
* Gideon International annually distributes more than 45 million copies.

Biblical knowledge (Biblical illiteracy is rampant):

* Perhaps 15 percent of Americans participate in Bible studies.
* The number of people who read the Bible, at least occasionally is 59 percent.
* Less than 50 percent of Americans can name the first book of the Bible (Genesis).
* Only 1/3 of Americans know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount (more people identified Billy Graham rather than Jesus).
* Twenty-five percent of Americans don't know what is celebrated on Easter (the Resurrection of Christ, the foundational event of Christianity).
* Twelve percent of Christians think that Noah's wife is Joan of Arc.
* Eighty percent of born-again Christians (including George W. Bush) think it is the Bible that says "God helps them that help themselves." (Actually it was said by Benjamin Franklin.) Americans and the Bible:
Bible Ownership, Reading, Study and Knowledge in the United States

by Michael J. Vlach http://www.theologicalstudies.citymax.com/page/page/1572910.htm The Christian Bible continues to be a revered book in the United States. In fact, no other book comes close to having been read and re-read as much as the "Good Book". Every year, millions of Bibles are printed in this country. Researcher George Gallup points out that so many Bibles have been printed in the United States "that even rough estimates of the total number published to date do not exist." 1

How do Americans use the Bible and what do they know about it? Recent research has produced important information about Bible ownership, reading, study, and knowledge in the United States.


Bible Ownership
Most Americans own a Bible. In fact, 92% of households in America own at least one copy. Of those households that own a Bible, the average number of Bibles is three. This includes not only the homes of practicing Christians but hundreds of thousands of atheists as well. 2

Bible Reading
Although most Americans own a Bible, use of the Bible varies significantly. In a poll taken by the Gallup Organization in October, 2000, 59% of Americans reported that they read the Bible at least occasionally. This is down from 73% in the 1980s. The percentage of Americans who read the Bible at least once a week is 37%. This is down slightly from 40% in 1990. 3 According to the Barna Research Group, those who read the Bible regularly spend about 52 minutes a week in the scriptures. 4 Barna, "The Bible," data is from 1997.


Which gender is more faithful at reading the Bible at least weekly? The prize goes to the women. Women (42%) are more likely than men (32%) to have read the Bible in the past week. What version do people prefer? As of 1997, those who read the Bible preferred the King James Version to the New International Version by a 5 to 1 margin. 5

Bible Study
When it comes to going beyond merely reading the Bible to actual study of the Bible, the numbers decline sharply. Only one in seven Americans report an involvement that goes beyond just reading the Bible. Fourteen percent of Americans currently belong to a Bible study group. 6 This is down a full one-third from 1990 when 21% said they were involved in a Bible study group. 7

Bible Knowledge
How about knowledge of the Bible? According to Gallup, "Despite the impressive statistics concerning Bible reading and study, it is apparent that ignorance about its contents is widespread." 8 He gives evidence for this conclusion: -- Only half of adults interviewed nationwide could name any of the four Gospels of the New Testament. -- Just 37% of those interviewed could name all four Gospels. -- Only 42% of adults were able to name as many as five of the Ten Commandments correctly. -- Seven in ten (70%) were able to name the town where Jesus was born, but just 42% could identify him as the person who delivered the Sermon on the Mount. 9 Researcher George Barna has also documented the lack of Bible knowledge in the United States: -- 38% of Americans believe the entire Bible was written several decades after Jesus' death and resurrection (While this is true of the New Testament, the entire Old Testament was written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ). -- 12% of adults believe that Noah's wife was Joan of Arc. -- 49% believe that the Bible teaches that money is the root of all evil. (The love of money is said to be the root of all types of evil). -- 75% believe that the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves. 10 George Lindbeck, the famous Yale theologian, has commented on the decreasing knowledge of scripture from a professor's perspective: "When I first arrived at Yale, even those who came from nonreligious backgrounds knew the Bible better than most of those now who come from churchgoing families." 11

Recent research highlights the decreasing influence of the Bible in the United States and the importance of serious Bible study by Christians. As our society becomes increasingly pluralistic and subjective in its worldview, the more important it will be for Christians to know and study their Bibles. Only by doing so can we intelligently present a biblical worldview to those who know so little of the Word that is able to save their souls.
1 George Gallup, Jr., The Role of the Bible in American Society (Princeton: The Princeton ReligionResearch Center, 1990)
2 Barna Research Online, "The Bible," www.barna.org. This information is based on 1993 figures.
3 Alec Gallup and Wendy W. Simmons, "Six in Ten Americans Read Bible at Least Occasionally," TheGallup Organization, www.gallup.com, October 20, 2000.
4 Barna, "The Bible," data is from 1997.
5 Ibid., data is from 2001.
6 Gallup, "Six in Ten Americans Read Bible at Least Occasionally,"
7 Gallup, The Role of the Bible in American Society, 17.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid.
10 Barna, "The Bible," The information is from the years 1994, 1997, 1994, and 2000 respectively.
11 George A. Lindbeck, "The Church's Mission to a Postmodern Culture," Postmodern Theology: ChristianFaith in a Pluralist World (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989) 45.
4 people found this useful

Why do people read the Bible?

To find faith in God or Jesus. For many centuries now, the Bible is the World's 'best seller.' It has been copied into many languages and there are just as many reasons why

When do people read the bible?

People read the bible in order to give a more spiritual guide to their life. If you plan on begining to read the bible I recommend one with verse interpretations at the bottom

Why do people not read the Bible?

But millions do! The Bible is still the most printed, read, sold, published, distributed book there is - and has been for all time. Hundreds of millions of Christians read it

Do people still read the Bible And why?

Yes, there are more people reading the Bible today than at any other modern time. The people are seeking that comfort that the scriptures can give them in these troubled times

Why don't people read the bible?

Some people have other faiths so the bible is not their sacred text. Some people don't believe in it. Some think it irrelevant.

What percentage of the people in France can read?

In the world literacy league, France comes equal 19th at 99%, though most of those above her are former members of the USSR and their figures may not be all that accurate. The

Do Lutheran people read The Bible?

As the bible is there for all to read at any time they do like, yes the Lutheran people and the Lutheran church do very much read the protestant bible.