The number of U.S. adults who are “Bible Users” stabilized in 2023 after an “unprecedented drop” in 2022, according to a report published by the American Bible Society.
An estimated 100 million people in the U.S. (39% of all adults) are Bible Users – they read, listen to or pray with the Bible on their own outside of a church setting at least 3-4 times a month. The percentage is unchanged from 2022, though this is three million fewer Bible Users than in 2022.
From 2011 to 2020, the number of Bible Users ranged from 48% to 53% before plummeting in 2022. Between 2021 and 2022, there was an 11% (25 million person) decline in Bible Users, so this year’s figures represent a relative sense of stability.
Women (41%) were more likely than men (36%), Black respondents (57%) were more likely than Hispanic (40%), white (35%) or Asian (27%) respondents, Elders (48%) were more likely than Boomers (46%), Generation X (38%), Millennials (33%) or Generation Z (30%) to be Bible Users.
Among the four Christian tradition groups highlighted in the report, evangelical Protestants (70%) were most likely to be Bible Users, followed by historically Black Protestants (68%), mainline Protestants (46%) and Catholics (37%).
Presented with seven options for why they read the Bible, “It brings me closer to God” was the most common response (47%), followed by “I need wisdom for making life decisions” (20%) and “I need comfort” (15%). The other four responses received less than 10% affirmation.
When asked to share their frustrations with Bible reading, “not enough time” (26%) was the most common response among all U.S. adults, followed by “don’t know where to start” (17%), “lack of excitement about reading it” (16%), “difficulty relating to language” (15%), “layout difficult to navigate” (9%) and “stories are confusing” (8%).
This is the first release of data from the 2023 State of the Bible Report, with additional data to be released monthly through the end of the year.
The full report is available here. The survey was conducted by the NORC at the University of Chicago’s AmeriSpeak panel. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.59 percentage points.