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Bible reading is vital lifeline for Christians in UK, Ireland amid COVID lockdowns: survey

Bible reading
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A new survey has found that the Bible has been a vital lifeline for Christians in the U.K. and Ireland during the COVID-19 lockdowns. 

The Bible study app WordGo commissioned the research and Savanta ComRes conducted the survey, which revealed that 63% of churchgoing Christian adults in the U.K. and Ireland say that the Bible has been crucial in helping them deal with the pressures of life since the first lockdowns began in March in response to COVID-19.

"It is so encouraging to hear of people being comforted by God through the Bible in these challenging times. This shows us the genuine impact of Bible engagement on our lives. In times of great uncertainty, we need the timeless wisdom and genuine peace that only the words of God can bring," said Simon Lennox, director of WordGo, in an interview with Premier News. 

"The most radical thing we can do for our mental and spiritual health during this season is to be in conversation with God, in prayer and in Scripture," he added. "Ultimately, if we are going to face the uncertainties of life — death, disease or famine — we need to start the day with our certainties in Christ."

According to the BBC, under the new restrictions for the second U.K. lockdown, people are being ordered to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave, such as work that cannot be done from home. Meeting indoors or in private gardens is not permitted, but individuals can meet one other person from another household outside in a public place.

In Wales, under the "firebreak" lockdown restrictions, grocery stores have been banned from selling greeting cards and books, and other shops are prohibited from selling blankets, light bulbs, baby clothes and electronics. 

Of the 1,905 people surveyed for the WordGo/Savanta ComRes poll on Bible reading during the lockdowns, approximately 60% of regular churchgoers said the Bible encouraged and motivated them, the researchers found.

Lennox added, "With the pandemic removing most of the ways we experience church or community together, it is so easy to feel isolated, disconnected and far removed from God and one another.

"We launched the WordGo app at the start of lockdown to provide a new and accessible way for churches to help their communities stay connected through Bible study. We hope that it will continue to help people look to the Bible for God's wisdom and comfort during these difficult days."

The encouragement many have drawn from the Bible in England and Ireland has occurred even as participation in faith communities among Bible readers has declined due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. Bible reading, however, has remained steady.

The American Bible Society found in its most recent report that in January, 49% of Bible users in the United States were part of a community of faith where they could explore and talk about spiritual topics. By June, that number had dropped to 39%.

"In June, most respondents (65%) indicated their use of the Bible had 'stayed the same,' while one in five (21%) said it had increased and only one in 10 (10%) said it had decreased," ABS research found.

"Compared to January, the proportion showing change in their use of the Bible decreased slightly from 33% to 31%. While nationwide changes in Bible reading habits were negligible, people who were personally impacted by COVID-19 were more likely than average to increase their use of the Bible."

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