New York (CBS DC/AP) — A new poll finds a sharp increase in the number of Americans who consider the Bible merely the teachings of men rather than the word of God, with nearly one-in-five Americans (19 percent) saying they are skeptical of the Bible.
The fourth annual “State of the Bible” survey was conducted just over two months ago by the Barna Group for the American Bible Society, a non-profit organization based in New York. The survey found that 88 percent of U.S. households own a Bible, but belief in the writings is waning dramatically with young Americans.
Millennials, or those aged 18-29, are “leading the shift toward skepticism” and indifference toward the Bible, the survey finds. While 50 percent of all adults believe the Bible has “too little influence” in society, less than one-third (30 percent) of Millennials agree with that statement.
One-in-five Millennials believe that no literature is sacred, with 39 percent reporting they have never read the Bible.
More than a quarter (26 percent) of all American adults say they have never read the Bible.
The cellphone and online survey of more than 2,000 Americans found that while about one in five Americans continue to read the Bible at least four times a week and view it as divinely inspired, an equal percentage doubt the Bible’s relevance and authority — almost twice the percentage of those who were skeptical of the Bible in 2011.
Spokesman Geof Morin says the American Bible Society hopes to reach more of that generation through their cell phones with daily verses and Bible studies.
Society President Roy Peterson says he hopes more Americans will turn to the Bible to “make sense of life” and reverse what many see as the nation’s “moral decline.”
A 2012 study from the Pew Research Center found that one-third of adults under the age of 30 have “no religious affiliation,” and that percentage – the highest number in Pew surveys to date — is steadily increasing. In addition, one-fifth of U.S. adults report having no religious affiliation.
The Public Religion Research Institute surveyed more than 4,500 Americans earlier this year and found that nearly one-third of Millennials who left their childhood religion cited anti-gay teachings as a major factor, with 70 percent of young Americans agreeing that religious groups are alienating their generation.
As of February 2012, over six billion Bibles had been printed worldwide. Catholic Online data shows that the Bible is the most widely read book in the world, and has already been translated into 2,454 different languages