While the number of Americans who consult the Bible spontaneously has declined sharply in recent years, a survey indicates that those who use it are generally more likely to be hopeful than others.
Every year since 2011, the American Bible Society has published a study called "State of the Bible" which reveals trends in Scripture use. As the United States emerges from the Covid-19 epidemic, the survey carried out from January 5 to 30 concerning the year 2022 reveals that "in the face of life's difficulties, people who engage in [the consultation of] the Bible have much more hope than others". The study excludes the use of the Bible in a church context.
The results of the study were obtained from the responses of 2 adults to an online questionnaire and by telephone for a median duration of 761 minutes. Subjects were taken in all 18 states and Washington DC from January 50-5. The margin of error is 30% and the results are 2,59% reliable.
To assess how respondents view the future, the study used the Persevering Hope Scale which was created by a group of researchers from five universities, and which relies on self-report like many psychological assessments.
Subjects were asked about four ways to react when an outcome they desire "seems unlikely or even impossible."
They had to choose between the following answers:
"I am determined to go all the way"; "I will keep trying"; "I do not give up" ; or "I'm motivated to get a positive result".
While the maximum score is 5 on this scale, the overall average score was 3,8. Witness to the legendary American optimism. The result is identical in men and women, and the differences are minimal between the generations. But among subjects who use the Bible the most, the score rises to 4,1. The study mentions reading, but it retains the use and not the fact of reading the Bible as a criterion, because it can be consulted in various ways, for example being listened to.
Breaking down, "Scripture-Engaged" Americans got that average score, while the "Mobile Middle," which the study also defines as "Semi-Engaged," gets 3,8 percent. In this group, 31% say they do not have time to study the Bible, and 13% admit that they do not feel enthusiastic about consulting it. The "disengaged", they have a score almost identical to that of the "semi-engaged" with 3,7 out of 5. 32% of them say they feel a "lack of excitement about reading the Bible".
A consultation in sharp decline
To define engagement with the Scriptures, the study considers three factors, including the frequency of interactions with them. For most of the past decade, 49% of Americans reported using the Bible three or more times a year, a figure that dropped to 39% in the 2022 study, a percentage that held steady in 2022.
While the number of Americans “engaged in the scriptures” peaked at 71 million according to the 2020 study, with people in confinement taking the time to study it, it was 49 million in the previous study for the year 2021 and is at 47 million for 2022.
The "mobile environment" rose to 76 million after a drop to 66 million for the year 2021. This drop followed a peak of 95 million in 2020.
Disengaged fell from 145 million for 2021 to 138 million for last year.
The pollster offered seven unique answers to the subjects of the group who turn to the Bible to find out their motivations. By far, the most popular answer was "It brings me closer to God" (47%).
Others said they consult her because they "need wisdom to make decisions in life" (20%) or because they "need comfort" (15%). Of those who use it for the latter purpose, 24% are Gen Z. The study says this confirms its previous observations:
“The youngest survey participants are going through a stressful time and many are turning to the Bible to help them through this ordeal.”