Americans' actions may not be aligned with their beliefs when it comes to the best-selling book of all time, according to a new report from the American Bible Society (ABS).
The group's 2013 State of the Bible report (infographic below), which bases its conclusions on an annual survey conducted by Barna Group, finds a "significant disconnect in belief versus behavior."
More than 3 in 4 Americans say the country is in a state of moral decline–and almost 1 in 3 attribute the cause to a "lack of Bible reading" (narrowly beating out "negative influence of media").
But that doesn't mean Americans are willing to read the Bible themselves. Although 66 percent of survey respondents agreed that "the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life," the majority (58 percent) said they "don't personally want wisdom and advice from the Bible."
The report also found that "beliefs about the Bible and its role in society are becoming increasingly polarized—particularly when the data is examined by age group."
For example, while those ages 18 to 28 are the least likely to read the Bible (more than half report reading it less than three time a year), they are also the most interested in "receiving input and wisdom" from the Bible on:
Parenting (42%, compared to 22% of all adults)
Family conflict (40%, compared to 24% of all adults)
Dating and relationships (35%, compared to 16% of all adults)
Romance and sexuality (30%, compared to 17% of all adults)
That "disconnect" is troubling, said ABS president Doug Birdsall in a press release.
"Americans overwhelmingly recognize the decline of morality in our nation," he said. "The good news is the Bible is the ultimate instruction guide on how to live a moral life. Unfortunately, more than half of Americans rarely, if ever, read it."
CT has covered previous reports from ABS, including the 2012 State of the Bible report, in which 8 in 10 Americans said they wouldn't base their presidential vote on the Bible. CT also has reported on the ABS itself, which faced trouble with previous president Paul G. Irwin before hiring Birdsall away from the Lausanne Movement.