The American Bible Society has published a report on Bible reading in the United States every year for more than ten years. The 2022 edition reveals that nearly 26 million Americans have stopped reading the scriptures in the past year. A significant drop that researchers attribute to the closure of churches due to the pandemic.
“We have reviewed our calculations. We double-checked our calculations and re-calculated the numbers…over and over,” reports John Plake, one of the American Bible Society researchers, in the organization's 2022 report which compiles data on Bible reading in the United States. “What we discovered was surprising, disheartening and disturbing,” continues the researcher.
The report reveals an "unprecedented" decline in the percentage of Bible users in North America. As of 2018, between 47% and 49% of American adults read the Bible, while 2022 data shows a 10% decrease from the previous year.
Thus, today, only 39% of Americans say they read the Bible several times a year or more. Which means nearly 26 million Americans have reduced or stopped their scripture interaction in the past year.
Asked by Christianity Today on the causes of this decrease, John Plake evokes the health crisis. He believes the unprecedented decline shows how closely Bible reading is linked to church attendance.
This is also the thesis supported by Don Whitney, professor of biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminar. He claims that the isolation of Christians has had a "deadly impact" on Bible reading, even in the private sphere.
According to the professor, “when people are not in church, they are not reminded of the blessings of scripture and its importance to their lives. And they are not encouraged by other Christians sharing their own reading of the Bible”.
Dance the preface to the report, Robert Briggs, General President and Director of the American Bible Society shared a message of hope despite these alarming numbers.
He recalls that the state of reading the Bible “brings a new perspective on a reality that God already knows”. The purpose of this study is not to create panic or to celebrate, he explains, but it is a starting point.
“What is God calling us to do in response to this reality, to move forward toward the future point God has in mind? How can we help? are some examples of the questions he calls Christians to ask themselves.
Camille Westphal Perrier
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