An in-depth study released by the Barna Group on behalf of the American Bible Society found that 50 percent of Americans believe the Bible, Quran and the Book of Mormon hold different expressions of the same truths. The survey also found that Americans' reliance on the Bible has decreased slightly in 2012 from 2011, although the Christian holy book retains an important place in people's lives.
The study, which was conducted in March and surveyed over 2,000 adults through phone and online interviews, found that 85 percent of American households own a Bible – although that number was down from 88 percent in 2011. Similarly, 48 percent agreed that the Bible has all the knowledge needed to live a meaningful life, while that number was 53 percent in 2011.
Mormonism, which has been in the news lately because of Mitt Romney, the likely GOP presidential candidate and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, registered a slight gain in terms of recognition – six percent of people interviewed said the Book of Mormon is sacred or holy, which is up two percent from 2011. The Bible, on the other hand, dropped by four percent to 82 percent in the same question.
The survey's findings suggest that "Americans desire to read the Bible more and turn to it for the answers to life questions but have an increasingly less reverent view of its contents," David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, said in a press release.
People's motivation for reading the Bible also slightly changed. Fifty-five and 10 percent of respondents respectively said they read the Christian holy book to bring them closer to God or because they needed comfort, which was down from 2011. However, 17 percent of respondents, a growing number, said they were turning to the Bible to help them solve a problem in life, or because they needed direction.
In terms of faith and politics, people were largely split on the role religious belief has to play in the political realm. However, a significant majority (79 percent) disagreed that the Bible teaches Americans should vote for people of the same faith, while 33 percent of people said they would vote for an atheist. The more secular, younger generation (between ages 18 and 29) were more open to the idea, and 47 percent said they are ready to vote for an atheist candidate.
In addition, 47 percent of all adults said that according to them, the Bible has too little influence over American society – but 16 percent said that it has too much influence, a number up by two percent from 2011.
The survey also took a look at the type of emotions experienced by those who read the Bible. Of the favorable emotions, respondents most identified themselves as feeling peaceful (34 percent) and encouraged/inspired (33 percent.) While most Bible readers said they did not experience unfavorable emotions after reading Scripture, those that did said they were either confused (12 percent) or overwhelmed (11 percent).
A common frustration identified by Bible readers was rarely having enough time to read the Bible – 32 percent admitted they experience this problem. Twelve percent, on the other hand, said their biggest problem was the difficult language used in the Bible.