Bible losing influence in America

A worker destroys a church in Atlanta to make way for a new football stadium. (JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM)

A worker destroys a church in Atlanta to make way for a new football stadium. (JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM)

Easter is just a few bunny hops away, but the percentage of Americans who will search for eggs or otherwise mark the occasion is in decline, according to a new study on Bible readership.

A Washington Times article bearing the unbiased headline “Going to hell in a handbasket” says, for the first time, the number of Americans skeptical of the Bible is equal to the number who believe the words are inspired directly by God and contain no errors except for maybe a few of the tricky passages.

Overall, the number of Americans skeptical of the Bible has increased 10 percent since 2011, according to the 2014 “State of the Bible” report by The American Bible Society.

Who do we have to blame for this portent of doom?

Young people, the so-called “Millennial Generation” (who range in age from 18-29) must be too busy taking “selfies” or copying-and-pasting links on Reddit to heed the book last updated some 2,000 years ago.

Here’s some hard facts from the survey:

  • Young people are less likely to view the Bible as sacred literature (64 percent in comparison to 79 percent of older adults)
  • Young people are likely to believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to lead a meaningful life (35 percent in comparison to 50 percent of older adults)
  • Young people are more likely to never read the Bible (39 percent compared in comparison to 26 percent of older adults)

Some older folks are fighting back.

In Louisiana, which declared Mardi Gras a state holiday in 1875, politicians are trying to make the Bible the state’s official book, despite the real threat of lawsuits.

I would advise you to “keep the faith” but that might entail you doing something ridiculous like the young and Godless disciples of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who are “rejoicing” because they can now buy tax-exempt colanders to wear as religious headgear.

More news from Friday’s Internet:

74 comments Add your comment

Nancy

April 11th, 2014
10:04 am

But could belief in the Bible ever reach the low level (approx 15%) of trust in the media? Pretty doubtful.

zeke

April 11th, 2014
10:05 am

What do you expect with the all out assault by the government, colleges, universities and K-12 schools against the Bible, Christians and Jews?? Our government has been in an all out war against religion, especially Christians for decades! The Constitution guarantees no government involvement in religion, OR, ANY GOVERNMENT RESTRICTIONS ON THE PRACTICE THEREOF!!!

Jasper

April 11th, 2014
10:16 am

And we wonder why the world is going to hell….

Evan

April 11th, 2014
10:19 am

Zeke,
These “assaults” you are talking about have nothing to do with taking away Christians’ right to practice. They are simply to stop schools and other institutions from forcing Christianity on people who are not Christian. The government has no right to tell you what religion to follow. America was founded on religious freedom, so that people can practice whatever religion they want.

If you think there has been an “assault” on Christianity, that’s because you want America to be a Christian nation, rather than a nation of religious freedom.

Gosh

April 11th, 2014
10:29 am

The reason is simple: more people are becoming more intelligent and realizing this whole Bible/word of God idea is pure brainwash. Personally I believe in God but I know for a fact that the Bible has nothing to do with it.

The Geezer

April 11th, 2014
10:32 am

The Bible is losing influence in America and you can certainly tell it from the heahlines and from peoples’ attitudes and behavior.

I was taught that the Ten Commandments were given for people’s benefit and not for God’s. If you follow them you will find that every day will go much better and you will have a higher quality of life.

In the 21st century...

April 11th, 2014
10:42 am

…And with the decline in spiritual guidance, or use of a spiritual guide such as the Bible, there is an inversely proportional increase of crime, disrespect, sexual perversion, homosexuality, anything-goes behavior, family dysfunction, child molestation, child murders, selfishness, immorailty, indecency, etc.

I’m a lifelong Christian and use to be a “if God said it, I believe it and that settles it,” based on what the Bible says. I’m still a Christian, though not now a Bible-thumper. BUT for sure, the basic principles in the Bible are sound: respect, do unto others, kindness, gifts of the Spirit, etc., and it is with those priniciples all of humanity could benefit and be better human beings.

John

April 11th, 2014
10:47 am

@Gosh – Or it’s an entirely feasible explanation that the number of millenials who have actually read any story directly from the Bible is dramatically lower than it was even 10 years ago.

Your comment about your ‘belief in God’ and “knowing for a fact” is evidence of that probable reality. It’s actually a quite funny statement- so thanks for the comedy this morning. You do support the argument that any form of media has the potential for brainwashing, if you don’t do you’re own independent thinking about something.

Wash, Rinse, SPIN and Repeat

April 11th, 2014
10:49 am

A select few would like for you to believe that the Bible is losing influence. The silent majority of Americans respectfully keep their mouths shut about their religion and their philanthropy, then liberal pollsters hit cherry picked communities with agenda based questionnaires and bring back hand data that we are expected to believe is true.

All of this media noise about nothing meant to take American minds off the fact that our country in spinning out of control due to our pathetic executive level community organizer.

The mass media is the one that is losing its influence in America.

Using the Bible as weapon is the biggest Sin of all. If you don’t believe that HE has the power to punish you, Karma certainly will.

Kimberly Cooley

April 11th, 2014
10:53 am

I wouldn’t be so quick to call out the habits of youth. Quite possibly it’s how we are representing life according to God’s word. Maybe it’s our hate, manipulation & judgment that make younger generations want nothing to do with the Bible. Maybe they are protecting their natural desire to love and #BeHumanTogether from our religious ways that often and largely misrepresent the Bible’s simple directives to love and forgive. Just – maybe.

Voice of Insanity

April 11th, 2014
10:58 am

@ In the 21st Century uh, The FBI’s crime database which shows the number and types of crimes committed per year and decade disagrees with your anecdotal evidence. Crime is lower now than it was in been in 50 years. Also, the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s were not law abiding centuries for this country, even though it was much more religious. Murders, robberies, rapes, child murders, incest were all happening then, it just wasn’t reported like they are now. Hell even in the 70s and 80s, when you were probably a young man, all those crimes happened at a higher rate of incidence than they are now.

Thomas Brown

April 11th, 2014
11:00 am

This seems to me to say that two-thirds of our youngsters believe in the Bible and that four-fifths of their elders do.

These are astoundingly high numbers, more than anything else.

Oh, Gosh!

April 11th, 2014
11:00 am

Gosh regurgitates:

“The reason is simple: more people are becoming more intelligent and realizing this whole Bible/word of God idea is pure brainwash.”

A mentally inept society that worships popular culture controlled via the media has you brainwashed
————————————————-

“Personally I believe in God but I know for a fact that the Bible has nothing to do with it.”

Pretending you believe in God is just a safety net for a person like you that is clearly lost his soul.

joe

April 11th, 2014
11:01 am

Our country was founded on a belief that is rooted in Christianity and to some extent, the Bible. Isn’t it interesting that the farther we get away from that, the greater the peril we have to deal with?

One reason for that is the breakdown of the 2 parent American family. Kids today simply don’t get the proper education they deserve…both in government schools and the home.

Bumper

April 11th, 2014
11:03 am

Evan @ 10:19am hit the nail on the head. The principle of separation of church and state is in place for a very good reason, it recognizes the right of the people to practice the faith of their choice but prevents them from inflicting their beliefs on non-believers in an officially sanctioned way.

The GOP is currently paying the price for their unwise decision a few years ago to crawl into bed with the Evangelicals. Millions of former Republican voters turned their backs and walked away.

Ken2010

April 11th, 2014
11:13 am

Zeke, Our nation has been at all out war over my lifetime with government using God by saying that He is always on our side in a time at war. It’s like Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is some kind of Christian soldier? Ironically, the last war we fought that produced a victory with a signed peace treaty was on 2 September 1945. That is if you don’t count the peace treaty that Jimmy Carter helped negotiate between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Minister Menachem Begin in 1979.

Wash, Rinse, SPIN and Repeat

April 11th, 2014
11:16 am

The GOP is currently paying the price for their unwise decision a few years ago to crawl into bed with the Evangelicals. Millions of former Republican voters turned their backs and walked away.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The GOP is suffering because the mass media wants them to. Just as the media is reporting that the Bible is losing influence in some smoke and mirrors polling data du jour.

Most of the Evangelicals in America attend the mega churches of the likes of Eddie Long and Creflo Dollar. True Christians are embedded in both political parties and don’t voice their opinions and expose personal data in silly polls that are meant to damage and control our belief system.

Bernie31 is the perfect example of an Evangelical Christian!

DJ

April 11th, 2014
11:28 am

Maybe the bible is losing influence because people are getting tired of a very small percentage of very small-minded zealots using that bible to force their bigoted, absolutest dogma down everyone elses throat, and perverting our democratic institutions of government to do it. If you are using the bible to justify socially distructive, science-denying, flat-earth style anti-progress, as the rest of the world barrels headlong into the future, you shouldn’t be surprised that more and more people find your way of thinking antiquated at best. And dehumanizing bigotry at worst.

PMDR

April 11th, 2014
11:41 am

The modern generations have gotten used to thinking for themselves rather than following any guidebooks or manuals, or bibles. They feel like they don’t need this sort of instruction, and honestly, the prior generations who have cherished these books and claimed to follow their word, well, religiously, have done a pretty lousy job with things. The world is in the mess it’s in largely because generations who claim to know better about things didn’t and couldn’t execute on it.

So it’s up to this aging religious generation, who say they know better gosh darnit, to justify why the younger generations should pay them any attention at all. They had their chance with stacks of bibles and prayers and all sorts of things, unopposed. The proof is in what they’ve done with it.

DJ

April 11th, 2014
11:46 am

… And, no, I can’t cite a single instance in my lifetime where any of us have actually had religious dogma “forced” down our throats (except for political correctness at school). Come to think of it, “dogma” is a term I’m not really all that familiar with.

So never mind.

@ DG

April 11th, 2014
11:47 am

Practice what you Preach

PMDR

April 11th, 2014
11:52 am

I worship POTUS B Hussein O and have PMS and suffer from PTSD from worshipping the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

BigTimeJacketFan

April 11th, 2014
11:53 am

Folks have been predicting the demise of the Bible and Christianity since the first century.

Missionaries in China conservatively estimate conversions in that country at around 10,000 per day. My church is actively involved in missions work in Ukraine, Dominican Republic, and numerous other countries. Closer to home, check numerous flourishing new church plants in downtown Atlanta, bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to folks, along with help with physical necessities.

John 3:16
1 Peter 1:24 – 25

PMDR

April 11th, 2014
11:55 am

Did you see how I used “gosh darnit” above to ridicule (sp?) my parents? Pretty clever, eh? :)

Learned to do stuff like that in college sociology class, from a loser prof who couldn’t get a job in the real world—but who was a God to us naive sophomores!

6 points

April 11th, 2014
11:57 am

That is not the Bible’s problem. The Word will always be the Word. It will not change. It always has been and always will be. That is the problem of those who refuse it. God doesn’t need us to accept Him to exist. It isn’t His problem. It’s ours.

6 points

April 11th, 2014
12:03 pm

@PMDF your statements validate the reality that there must be a God. Think on that one a little while and congratulations.

@Wash, Rinse, SPIN and Repeat most of the people you speak of in the ministries you happened to mention probably voted with you as a liberal about 90% of the time. Get your facts straight.

Oh pmdr

April 11th, 2014
12:04 pm

Oh, PMDR….to be young and know all the answers. How nice it must be.

THS

April 11th, 2014
12:09 pm

How fascinating that Christian Haters know sooooo much more the content of the Bible and scripture in than Christians do! I have experienced more atheists shoving their ignorance and hatred down my throat that any organized religion has ever done. So if there was a poll done to make US believe the Bible is faltering, then it must be gaining respect and reverence by leaps and bounds in popularity. This country has certainly needed their faith in past few years as the rest of the World watches as we crumble under a false prophet.

Thanks for the manufactured news. I am sure sure the dumb masses enjoy these as they sip their artificial and unhealthy Kool Aid.

Kev

April 11th, 2014
12:12 pm

“Our country was founded on a belief that is rooted in Christianity and to some extent, the Bible. Isn’t it interesting that the farther we get away from that, the greater the peril we have to deal with?”

This country was originally founded by Christians from Europe but, unlike what most evangelicals in this country think, the first English colony founded in the New World was not at Plymouth by the Pilgrims, but at Jamestown, Virginia many years before. And the only thing they cared about was surviving and making money.

By the time our country really began, with the Constitution, freedom of religion, and from religion, has been enshrined in our laws. That’s what,this country was founded on and is governed by, not Christianity or any other religion.

Hypothesis

April 11th, 2014
12:16 pm

The bible has been interpreted by so many cultures and so many pasters – past, present and future.

Many folks are skeptical because many have used this bible to justify racism, and oppression of those that don’t look or act like they do.

But, if you read the bible there is always the fundemental idea of LOVE – you need to love each other.

It is intersting that there is no mention of extraterrestrial beings in the bible.

So I wonder when life is discovered on other planets (and it will) how will this fit in to those folks who say “Everything in life is in the bible.”

We are slowly learning that this is not true – how will we be able to reconcile this with beliefs and faith?

Hypothesis

April 11th, 2014
12:21 pm

@ Kev

“By the time our country really began, with the Constitution, freedom of religion, and from religion, has been enshrined in our laws. That’s what,this country was founded on and is governed by, not Christianity or any other religion.”

Kev I agree with you – because how could we justify slavery?

We (man) defined a group of people as property – yes there were slaves in the bible – but the idea of Moses leadin his people out of bondage – is one of the greatest events in the bible.

So could God be pleased with the idea of slavery – hell no… and yet “Christians” used the bible to justify it – back in the day…

Legolas

April 11th, 2014
12:29 pm

“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” – Gandhi

If I had to put it in a nutshell, I couldn’t put it any better.

Gandhi

April 11th, 2014
12:35 pm

Legolas: I actually had PLENTY critical to say about Hinduism and Islam, too. But I guess you’d rather stick to abusing your fellow countrymen.

Briscoe Darlin

April 11th, 2014
12:36 pm

Ooh, lets talk about kool-aid. And if the Branch Davidians were right, we are all screwwed

Bernie31

April 11th, 2014
12:37 pm

Kev @ 12:12 pm – WOW! What a LOAD OF CRAP and BS that was, you laid on US. It is Clear to ALL, You have been Brainwashed with Lies when one truly evaluates what really went on in establishing this Nation. Does the Term SLAVERY mean any thing to you? No TRUE Christian People would hold in Bondage a whole Race of People and their familes for 200 plus years!

Slavery is from SATAN.

uh…huh.

Kev

April 11th, 2014
12:40 pm

“Kev I agree with you – because how could we justify slavery?

We (man) defined a group of people as property – yes there were slaves in the bible – but the idea of Moses leadin his people out of bondage – is one of the greatest events in the bible.

So could God be pleased with the idea of slavery – hell no… and yet “Christians” used the bible to justify it – back in the day…”

There’s two sides of that coin. The Civil Rights movement used religion as the jumping off point for their struggle. And the people against them used the Bible to justify their ends.

Most religious people I’ve met are wonderful, loving people who really don’t judge and accept people for who they are. But when the “atheist” question comes up they can get a bit uncomfortable.

I’ve read the Bible probably more than most Baptists. I’ve read the Koran and studied other religions. My realizing that I’m an atheist did not come easily and it came after much inner searching but that’s who I am. I think I’m a moral man, just not one who believes in religion.

Nancy

April 11th, 2014
12:43 pm

Still no job, Bernie31? And still blaming OTHERS for that?

Hypothesis

April 11th, 2014
12:43 pm

Is a Hypocrite

PR

April 11th, 2014
12:47 pm

It’s a known fact that the bible was translated and printed by the Catholic church and they chose to omit any chapters that did not fit their religious views. The extreme Christian right-wing needs to quit trying to shove their views down everyone’s throat. The US is a country founded on religious freedom….not the Christian religion. Granted that back in the day it was primarily a Christian nation but we have grown and need to respect everyone’s religious views, or non-views, regardless. All the Christian conservatives are doing is making themselves the object of ridicule and derision for their narrow-mindedness.

Edward

April 11th, 2014
12:48 pm

If you want to know why the bible and christianity (and religion in general) are on the decline, one need look no further than the comments in this and most any other forum from those claiming to be “christian”. The hate, ignorance, and enmity exhibited by these fine examples are turning off more and more people every day. Good job!

coj

April 11th, 2014
12:57 pm

I realized at the tender age of six that the Bible was a collection of tales used to indoctrinate people. I loved going to Bible classes because of all the sex, violence and nonsensical stuff in it. Like reading fairy tales. But I drew the line in attending the sermons after Bible classes. That[’s where the salesmen calling themselves preachers tried to sell you entrance into the afterlife by threatening you with damnation of hellfire and brimstone. But I admired the teachings of a man called Jesus. He had such wonderful ideas that Christians of today fail to follow but still call themselves Christians.

BK37

April 11th, 2014
12:59 pm

It only took a few posts before someone took a shot at the president, who has nothing to do with this discussion. Obama Derangement Syndrome is real I tell you.

I just love how some people continue to believe that America was founded as a Christian nation. Not true at all. Also, I want the zealots to quit whining about the so-called loss of “religious freedom” or “religious liberty.” Nobody is infringing on your beliefs. What people are tired of is zealots trying to shove their beliefs down everybody else’s throats. Christianity does not get preferential treatment.

BK37

April 11th, 2014
1:04 pm

And, no, I can’t provide a single modern day example of “zealots” shoving anything down our throats other than political correctness.

But I have a right to make a fool of myself. Sez so right in the Constitution!

BK37

April 11th, 2014
1:09 pm

Ah, a true sign of maturity; jacking other people’s screen names to post. Says a lot about you. Sorry to burst your bubble, but there are plenty of zealots out here who want to do this. A good example are the lawmakers in various states pushing to have creationism taught in public schools. Keep that where it belongs: in church.

Capt Tom

April 11th, 2014
1:13 pm

If you look at the trends in religiosity/spirituality on a worldwide basis, you see what is actually quite obvious and expected from an anthropological/sociological standpoint: advanced cultures are become less religious. The cultures/areas where religion still sees growth are mainly third world and primitive cultures. In first world societies, those who are still “religious” are primarily those “born into” the religion of their parents or predominant geographical influence. More are leaving religion than “coming into” it later in life.

This makes complete and logical sense, as civilizations/cultures finally “outgrow” the ancient and archaic need for the influence of superstitions and the supernatural.

csaga

April 11th, 2014
1:31 pm

Good. The Bible, read literally and in its entirety, is a manual for creating atheists. Which is no surprise, as many polls and studies show that atheists have a greater knowledge of the Bible than believers.

Jack Mehoff

April 11th, 2014
1:45 pm

Young people know everything…just asked them.

Jack Mehoff

April 11th, 2014
1:49 pm

The Bible is .lame man….Bieber and Miley Cyrus and Obama are whats cool man.

Mitch Behemoth

April 11th, 2014
2:25 pm

With the advent of the internet, information from all perspectives is now available to every John and Jane in the country, whether you live in NYC or the foothills of TN. No longer are people believing what they’ve been taught since day 1 because they finally have more options for things to believe. The information is finally available. No longer are people only able to get information from their small town church, their parents, and their local library. They can get information from countless sources over the face of the planet and use their brain to decide what makes the most sense. With information more readily available, people finally see the absurdity in believing their own beliefs are the “correct” set of beliefs, because there are so many different perspectives around the world and really- what makes you so special that you- Billy Bob in rural Kentucky knows the absolute truth while the rest of the world idiotically follows their pagan “incorrect” religions. Religions worked when the data, when the information, was closed off from subsets of people and knowledge was transferred only from mouth to mouth. Now that everyone in the entire world is connected, the dogma doesn’t make sense any more. No take backs. The world is better off.

anon

April 11th, 2014
2:37 pm

Turns out that if you use your religion to be a hateful, screeching bigot, you might just turn people off to your religion!

Seriously, why do you think Pope Francis is so popular? He doesn’t preach damnation, hellfire and brimstone. He preaches peace, love, and understanding. You religious zealots will never understand that viewpoint, and having other people think differently from you drives y’all up the wall.