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Will Ben Carson's Bible Advice to Donald Trump Work? Here’s What Americans Think

Can more Bible reading make the presidential election more civil if Trump’s favorite verse is ‘an eye for an eye?’
Will Ben Carson's Bible Advice to Donald Trump Work? Here’s What Americans Think
Image: Jose Luis Magana / AP
Donald Trump displays his family Bible at September's Values Voter Summit.

Starting Sunday, the entire Bible will be read aloud in 90 hours on Capitol Hill. Hundreds will make their way to the 27th annual reading at the US Capitol, where 100 English and foreign language versions of the Bible will be available.

Former presidential candidate Ben Carson recently told reporter Rita Cosby that his advice to Republican frontrunner Donald Trump on handling his temper was to “read the Bible and pray and learn how to put yourself in other peoples’ shoes.” (Trump recently said his favorite Bible verse is “an eye for an eye.”)

But not even regular Bible reading could make Trump and other presidential contenders more civil, believe 44 percent of Americans.

That’s an increase from 40 percent last year, according to the 2016 State of the Bible report from the American Bible Society (ABS), conducted by Barna Group.

Only 51 percent of Americans said politics would be more civil if politicians read the Bible regularly, down from 56 percent last year.

The number of Americans who believed that reading the Bible regularly would make politicians more effective fell from 58 percent in 2015 to 53 percent in 2016. Those who thought Bible reading would not make a difference rose from 40 percent in 2015 to 43 percent in 2016.

Only practicing Protestants (those who identify as Protestant, attend church at least once a month, and say their faith is very important to them) thought the Bible was especially needed this year: 86 percent said politicians would be more civil if they read their Bible regularly, up from 81 percent in 2015.

Less likely to think regular Bible reading would make politicians more civil were practicing Catholics (63%, down from 70% last year) and non-practicing Christians (43%, down from 54%).

Most practicing Protestants (86%) also said regular Bible reading would make America’s politicians more effective, up slightly from 84 percent last year.

Overall, fewer people believe the Bible should have more influence in US society. In 2011, more than half (54%) thought the Bible should have a greater role in society; in 2016, it dropped under half (46%).

“[T]his seems to just be a shift towards those who think the influence is just right or who are unsure; the proportion of those who think the Bible has too much influence remains unchanged (at 19%)” from last year, the ABS report stated.

Nearly three-quarters of practicing Protestants (72%) said the Bible should have a larger impact on society, down from 74 percent last year.

Just under a third of Americans (30%) and about a quarter of practicing Protestants (24%) believe the Bible has just the right amount of influence in public society.

CT covered the highlights of the 2015 State of the Bible report, as well as 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.

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