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Want Better Politics? Read More Bible, Say Half of Americans

ABS study find only 1 in 7 read Good Book daily.
 Want Better Politics? Read More Bible, Say Half of Americans
Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/savioseb/
One in seven Americans read the Bible daily

Many Americans wish that politicians would spend less time arguing and more time reading the Good Book.

About half (52 percent) say politics would be more civil if politicians read the Bible more. Six in ten (58 percent) think more Bible reading would lead to more effective politics.

Those are among the findings of the latest State of the Bible report from the American Bible Society (ABS).

Among other findings, three out of five Americans consistently wish they read the Bible more, the new report said. Since 2012, roughly 60 percent of American adults wish that same thing every year.

But only about a quarter (22 percent) say their Bible reading increased during the past year.

Overall, about one in seven (14 percent) say they read the Bible daily. Another one in seven (14 percent) read weekly. About half (48 percent) read the Bible once or twice a month or less.

The average Bible reader sits down for about 30 minutes for each reading, and that number doesn’t vary by the age of the reader.

Those who read the Bible say they feel peaceful (45 percent), encouraged (41 percent), and hopeful (35 percent), according to the phone survey of 1,012 Americans and online survey of 1,024 Americans conducted by the Barna Research Group.

King James still rules

Among those who read the Bible, the King James Version is by far their favorite.

Nearly four in 10 (39 percent) chose the King James, followed by the New International Version (13 percent) and the New King James Version (10 percent).

About one in 12 (8 percent) prefer the English Standard version, including a surprising 15 percent of Millennials).

About 88 percent of American households own a Bible, often more than one.

While Millennials (those under 30) are less likely to own a Bible, more than 4 in 5 of them have one. Boomers (ages 50-68) are even more likely to own one at 92 percent, and Elders (older than 69) are more likely yet (95 percent). Overall, the average number of Bibles in Bible-owning households is 4.4; the median number is 3.

So why don’t people read those Bibles more often?

Four in 10 (42 percent), say they are too busy. Others have left the church (12 percent), or say a difficult life experience made them doubt their faith (12 percent).

Getting the Bible isn’t always easy

While most Americans (98 percent) say they have access to a Bible, that’s not true for people in other countries.

More than half of the world’s almost 7,000 languages don’t have a complete Bible translation in their own language, according to the ABS.

Overall, about 1.3 billion people don’t have the full Bible in their first language, according to Wycliffe Bible Translators. About half of those have the New Testament or some portion of it completed.

Bible translators believe those numbers can change drastically in the next 10 years. Wycliffe announced a vision to have Bible translations begun in all of the remaining languages that need one by 2025, while ABS’ goal is to open 100 percent of languages to Bible engagement over the next 10 years.

CT’s coverage of previous reports includes the rise of Bible skeptics in the 2014 ABS report and which Bible translation is the most popular. (Hint: It isn’t the NIV.)

ABS and Barna also partner on picking America's most Bible-minded cities. CT examined how ABS's study compares to other rankings.

Previous stories on ABS include how the organization recently hired a veteran Bible translator, Roy Peterson, as its president, after it fired Lausanne's Doug Birdsall. ABS's effort to create a .bible domain for websites was one of Gleanings most-read posts of 2013.

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