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African-Americans lead in Bible engagement and beliefs

PHILADELPHIA, July 11, 2017—The results of the latest State of the Bible survey by American Bible Society showed African-Americans are more engaged with the Bible than any other group, overwhelmingly citing positive beliefs and hope found in the Scriptures. Among African-Americans, 71 percent are considered Bible engagedi or Bible friendlyii (compared to just 58 percent of all Americans). A small segment of African-Americans, just six percent, have hostileiiifeelings toward the Bible; only four percent are skepticaliv; and 19 percent are neutralv.

When asked if the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life, 77 percent agreed that it does. And while all Americans believe morality is on the decline (81 percent), 35 percent of African-Americans blame the decline on lack of Bible reading.

When African-Americans sit down to read the Bible, 29 percent read it for an hour or more—the leading timeframe for this category. Many cited feeling encouraged (51 percent) and hopeful (53 percent) as a result of reading the Bible.

African-Americans ranked higher than all Americans in:

Owning at least one Bible in their homes (95 percent)
Wishing they read the Bible more (74 percent)
Downloading or using a Bible app on a smart phone (46 percent)
Increasing Bible reading in the last year (33 percent)
Listening to audio versions of the Bible (40 percent)
Reading or listening to the Bible or praying every day (27 percent)
“African-Americans are much more inclined to recognize the value of reading the Bible,” said Roy Peterson, president and CEO of American Bible Society. “Anyone who devotes time to the Word of God can discover its unique ability to help make sense of life.”

State of the Bible is an annual report commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Group on behaviors and beliefs about the Bible among U.S. adults. For more information about the latest State of the Bible research, visit

Survey Methodology:
The State of the Bible 2017 report contains the findings from a nationwide study commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Research (a division of Barna Group). Two research methodologies were used for the study: the first included 1,025 telephone interviews (including cellphone interviews) with adults in all 50 states in the U.S., and the second consisted of 1,028 online surveys using a nationally representative panel. The use of two methodologies provided a larger sample size for key questions and ensured even greater representation among all age groups. The telephone interviews were conducted Jan. 20 – 30, 2017, and included U.S. adults 18 years of age or older. The online surveys were conducted Jan. 23 – Feb. 2, 2017.

About American Bible Society
Since 1816, American Bible Society has worked to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message. One of the nation’s first and most enduring ministries, today’s American Bible Society provides resources across a variety of platforms, enabling first-time readers and seasoned theologians alike to engage with the best-selling book of all time. For more information, visit American.Bible.

i Bible engaged: one who has a high view of Scripture and reads it four or more times a week

ii Bible friendly: one who has a high view of Scripture but reads it fewer than four times a week

iii Bible hostile: one who believes the Bible is just another book of teachings written by men and was written to control or manipulate people

iv Bible skeptic: one who believes the Bible is just another book of teachings written by men

v Bible neutral: one who has lower, but not negative, view of Scripture and rarely or never reads the Bible