Scripture well respected in America

Published April 19, 2012

The King James Bible is most frequently read version in the U.S. Photo: Mike Flippo

A recent poll reports that 82% of American hold the Bible to be sacred literature, followed by the Qur’an at 10%, the Torah at 6% and the Book of Mormon at 6%.

More than two-thirds (68%) of all adults surveyed and 75% of respondents age 66 and up agree that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life.

These statistics come from "The State of the Bible," a nationwide study commissioned by New York-based American Bible Society and conducted by California’s Barna Research in February and March of this year.

The results are based on 1,016 telephone interviews with adults age 18 and up in the continental U.S., and on online surveys using a nationally representative panel. Barna conducted a similar survey in 2011, and the 2012 report compares results for the two years.

In other findings, 85% of U.S. households own a Bible, and the holy book retains an important place in Americans’ lives. Almost half (47%) of respondents think the Bible has too little influence in society today (54% of seniors). About a third say reading the Bible makes them feel peaceful or encouraged and inspired, while 12% say they feel confused. Only 2% say it makes them feel, convicted, guilty or sinful.

The King James version appears to be the favoured edition, with 39% of its readers saying they read their bibles at least three or four times a year, followed by the New King James version at 12% and the New International version at 11%. Some contemporary versions rank low in frequency of reading, with just 1% to 2% saying they read their bibles three or four time a year. More than half (55%) say they read the Bible because it brings them closer to God, and 60% wish they read the Bible more often.

On the ecumenical front, 46% say the Bible, the Qur’an, and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths. A quarter say the Bible is the actual word of God and should be taken literally, word for word, while 28% hold that it’s inspired by God and error-free but that some of its verses are meant to be symbolic.


  • Diana Swift

    Diana Swift is an award-winning writer and editor with 30 years’ experience in newspaper and magazine editing and production. In January 2011, she joined the Anglican Journal as a contributing editor.

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