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Survey Shows: Bible Left Unread During Pandemic

During pandemic, people’s engagement in social media and news may have increased. Unfortunately, this is inconsistent with people’s engagement in the Bible.

According to the State of the Bible report of ABS, the daily Bible reading of U.S. adults has dropped from 14 percent to 9 percent between 2019 and 2020.

After months of quarantine and church closures, a larger decline occurred among Americans. The number of American adults the American Bible Society considers “Scripture-engaged” dropped significantly from 27.8 percent in January to 22.6 percent in June.

“What we saw between January and June was that 13 million people in America, who were previously really engaging meaningfully with Scripture, no longer were, and that was a serious drop-off,” said John Farquhar Plake, ABS director of ministry intelligence.

In January, Bible engagement in women was slightly more than men, which is 19.1 percent vs. 18.8 percent. However, women’s Bible engagement dropped by 7 percent between January and June.

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Plake said that the drop may be because of the life adjustments as mothers in particular have to take extra efforts during pandemic, juggling working from home and caring for children who previously attended school or daycare.

In 2011, about 64 million said they never used the Bible, compared to 87 million to 90 million in the past. This huge increase of 6 percent was unprecedented in the annual survey’s 10-year history.

ABS reports show Americans who have been personally impacted by the Coronavirus were most likely to read the Bible. On the other hand, the level of Bible engagement of those who have not personally known anyone who has died from Coronavirus tended to stay the same.

“Faith communities have demonstrated incredible resilience, innovation, and empathy through the pandemic,” ABS president and CEO Robert Briggs said. “But this survey reveals that a big opportunity still remains for Christian organizations to make an impact on Scripture engagement.”

The State of the Bible survey is an annual survey by the American Bible Society that examines “how adults in the United States related to the Bible, what questions they had about God’s Word, and what difference it was making in their lives,” according to the 2020 report.

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