Bible disengagement remained static in 2020, according to the 10th annual State of the Bible report, published jointly on Aug. 13 by the American Bible Society (ABS) and the Barna Group.
The report found no increase in Bible engagement resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barna and ABS conducted two surveys for this year’s report, with data from online interviews from January and both online and phone interviews from June being compiled and analyzed.
Respondents were asked to report their Bible interactions outside of services at a local house of faith, with 34% of U.S. adults saying they never read the Bible.
This is down 1% from 2019, but nine points above the disengagement rate in 2011.
By comparison, 26% reported reading the Bible four times a year or less, 9% once a month, 9% once a week, 13% multiple times a week and 9% every day.
The number of daily Bible readers is down five points from last year, a shift that the report called “unprecedented” in the 10-year polling history.
A majority of respondents (64%) said their Bible reading has not changed in the past year, with 22% reporting an increase and 11% a decrease, while 3% were not sure.
Bible access is not a significant factor in terms of engagement, with 77% saying they have a Bible in their home.
The global pandemic has not led to an increase in Bible reading, with the data from January and from June being nearly identical.
“The slide [in daily Bible reading] had not reversed as of June when the State of the Bible COVID Edition study was conducted. In that larger study, only 8.5% of respondents indicated that they read the Bible every day on their own,” the report said.
“Looking more broadly at frequency of Bible use, the January data showed that 31% of Americans use the Bible on their own at least once a week, down 5% from 2019 and down 4% from the 2011-2019 average. Once again, data collected in June show no correction in this data point. Instead, the proportion of American adults who use the Bible at least once a week on their own continued to be depressed, registering only 29.7%.”
The 2020 report is available here. The margin of error for the January data is plus-or-minus 3.1% and plus-or-minus 1.78% for the June data.
A news brief on the 2019 State of the Bible report is available here.