The number of U.S. adults who say the Bible is the “actual word of God, to be taken literally” reached an all-time low in 2022, according to a Gallup report published July 6.
One in five (20%) say the Bible is the actual / literal word of God, a four-point drop from 2017 and 20 points below the all-time high in 1980 and 1984.
A plurality (49%) say the Bible is “inspired by God, not all to be taken literally,” which is a two-point rise from 2017 and three points below the all-time high of 52% in 2002.
An all-time high (29%) say the Bible is “fables, history, moral precepts recorded by man,” a three-point increase from 2017 and 19 points above the all-time low affirming this view in 1980.
Among Christian respondents, 58% say the Bible is the “inspired word of God,” 25% the “actual word of God” and 16% “ancient book of fables.”
Among evangelical / “born again” respondents, the numbers are 51%, 40% and 8%, respectively, and among non-Christian and “nones,” the percentages were 26%, 6% and 65%, respectively.
“Americans’ interpretations of the Bible are important because the Bible is often used as the basis for policy positions on moral and values issues, including such things as abortion and gay and lesbian relations. Some more conservative Protestant groups use a literal interpretation of passages from the New Testament as the basis for their belief that women should not be in positions of religious leadership in churches,” the report said. “Gallup’s data shows that the use of a literal interpretation of the Bible as the basis or justification for social policy positions will likely resonate only with a declining minority of the overall U.S. population.”
The full report is available here.