During the COVID-19 pandemic millions of Americans who typically do not read a Bible opened one in 2020 a new survey has found and most of the like to read a print version.
The American Bible Society/Barna poll of 3,354 Americans, released May 12, conducted in January, found a 7.1 percent increase in 2020 over 2019 in the percentage of Americans who opened the Bible at least once, Christian Headlines reported.
The survey estimates that 181 million Americans opened a Bible in 2020 up from 169 million who did so in 2019.
The American Bible Society and Barna said Bible reading was "up significantly" in 2020.
The survey also revealed an increase in the percentage of Americans who regularly use the Bible.
In January, 16 percent of U.S. adults said they read the Bible most days (at least four) during the week – an increase from 12 percent who answered that way one year earlier.
Additionally, the percentage of "Bible users" – a category that includes those who read it at least three to four times a year – increased to 50 percent in 2020 after falling to 48 percent in 2019, the latter being a 10-year low-point.
While virtual interactions and device-dependency increased in nearly every aspect of daily life during the pandemic, 60 percent of Americans indicate they prefer print or paper Bibles.
"Those who are Scripture Engaged* (27 percent) are about twice as likely to prefer reading the Bible on their smartphones or tablets as those who are Bible Disengaged," found the survey.
One in four (24 percent) Americans in January said they read the Bible more now than they did in 2019.
"Over the past year, Americans have faced a once-in-a-century pandemic – along with significant political and social unrest," said John Farquhar Plake, director of ministry intelligence for the American Bible Society.
"However, our research shows that in the midst of incredible pressure, Americans are finding hope and resilience in the Bible. ... There's an astounding opportunity right now for the Church to answer our nation's pervasive trauma and pain with the hope and healing of God's Word."
NEVER USE THE BIBLE NUMBERS FALL
The percentage of Americans who say they never use the Bible fell to 29 percent – its lowest point since 2016.
It's not only Christians who read the Bible: 37 percent of those "who self-identify with other religions" read the Bible at least three to four times a year, analysis found.
"This suggests that many people of other religions are interested enough to interact with the Bible, at least occasionally," the survey said.
The survey found that more than half of U.S. adults (54 percent) believe that their country would be worse off without the Bible, a 5-percent increase since last year (49 percent in 2020).
"One in seven Americans (14 percent) believe the nation would be better without the Bible, essentially the same as last year's 13 percent," said the survey.
While the proportion with aa more negative view remained about the same, there has been a shift from last year for those in the middle.
One in three American adults (33 percent) believe America would be the same with or without the Bible.
Five percent of those who were ambivalent last year have moved to a more Bible-affirming view in 2021.