Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Study: Most Americans Still Take the Bible - Literally!

An astonishing statistic given that the majority of those same people also appear to harbor a stubborn indifference toward God.

From "Most Americans Take Well-Known Bible Stories at Face Value" posted 10/21/07 at The Barna Group

(Ventura, CA) - Americans may be skeptical about the claims of politicians, but they remain confident that some of the most amazing stories in the Bible can be taken at face value. A new nationwide survey conducted by The Barna Group shows that six well-known Bible stories are accepted as literal truth by an average of two out of three adults.

How People Read the Stories

Survey respondents were asked if they thought a specific story in the Bible was “literally true, meaning it happened exactly as described in the Bible” or whether they thought the story was "meant to illustrate a principle but is not to be taken literally." Six renowned Bible stories were then offered to adults for their consideration.

Surprisingly, the most significant Bible story of all - "the story of Jesus Christ rising from the dead, after being crucified and buried" - was also the most widely embraced. Three out of four adults (75%) said they interpreted that narrative literally, while only one out of five (19%) said they did not take that story literally. The more highly educated respondents were, the less likely they were to take the story literally, although even two-thirds of college graduates (68%) believe the resurrection narrative is literally true. One of the most substantial differences of opinion occurred between mainline Protestants (83% of whom take the resurrection literally) and non-mainline Protestants (among whom 95% accept the resurrection as fact). Overall, 82% of Catholics embrace the resurrection narrative as being true. Black adults were much more likely than either whites (74%) or Hispanics (80%) to consider the resurrection to be true.

The account of the prophet Daniel surviving in the lion’s den was deemed to be literally true by two-thirds of adults (65%). There was a huge regional difference of perspective. About half of the residents of the Northeast (51%) and West (55%) adopted a literal view of the story, compared to about three-quarters of those living in the South (78%) and Midwest (71%). There was a huge gap between Protestants (81%) and Catholics (51%) taking a literal view of this event. The ethnic gap persisted, as well: 85% of blacks, 66% of whites and 56% of Hispanics adopted a literal view of Daniel’s experience.

Two out of three Americans (64%) believe that Moses literally parted the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape from the Egyptians. Regionally, almost four out of five southerners (78%) accept this story as literal truth, while less than three out of five adults from other regions hold the same view (59% in the Midwest and West, 57% in the Northeast). Similarly, four out of five Protestants (79%) and three out of five Catholics (60%) embrace a literal interpretation of the Red Sea story.

But Barna also noted a significant disconnect between faith and practice. "While the level of literal acceptance of these Bible stories is nothing short of astonishing given our cultural context, the widespread embrace of these accounts raises questions about the unmistakable gap between belief and behavior. On the one hand we have tens of millions of people who view these narratives as reflections of the reality, the authority and the involvement of God in our lives. On the other hand, a majority of those same people harbor a stubborn indifference toward God and His desire to have intimacy with them. In fact, a minority of the people who believe these stories to be true consistently apply the principles imbedded in these stories within their own lives. It seems that millions of Americans believe the Bible content is true, but are not willing to translate those stories into action. Sadly, for many people, the Bible has become a respected but impersonal religious history lesson that stays removed from their life."

Read the whole article.

It is interesting to note that polls about what Americans think about the war in Iraq are reported almost daily. Yet a Google News search on this poll turned up only two articles; one in Christianity Today and the other in The Christian Post. The above survey was
completely absent in the mainstream media this week. The mainstream secular media has completely ignored it.

Why? It doesn't fit with their view of the America.

Still not convinced? Consider this:

News articles on another study that indicates that the next generation sees Christians as mean-spirited, intolerant and bigoted seem to be everywhere...

Here's a sample:

Study: Christians perceived as anti-gay
The Daily Collegian Online, PA - Oct 21, 2007

Study: Youth see Christians as judgmental, anti-gay
USA Today - Oct 10, 2007

Kids these days … have some harsh words for Christians
Austin American-Statesman, TX - Oct 19, 2007

Survey: Christian image takes a hit, NJ - Oct 19, 2007

Love Thy (Gay) Neighbor
Washington Post, United States - Oct 15, 2007