How Americans Interpret the Bible

According to the latest research by Gallup, within “most major U.S. subgroups, a plurality or majority holds the view that the Bible is the inspired word of God, rather than the actual word of God or a book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts.”  The chart below illustrates how views of the Bible have changed over time.

So What?

Currently, 3 in 10 Americans are biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God.  Preference for the literal perspective is markedly higher among those who attend church weekly or more often (54%) compare to those who attend nearly weekly/monthly (22%) or seldom/never (16%).  Preference for the literal perspective decreases as education increases: high school or less (46%), some college (22%), college graduate only (15%), and postgraduate (16%).

  •  Are you surprised to learn that biblical literalism peaked at 40% (1980 & 1984), but has held somewhat steady around 30% for the last 10 years (ranging from 27-32%)?
  •  What percentage of Americans do you project will be biblical literalists 10 years from now? What factors did you include in your projection?
  • Do you view the bible as the actual word, inspired word or as a book of fables/legends? How has your own understanding been enriched through conversation with those holding the other views?


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