Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Failing to Read the Bible Related to Declining Morals in US Society?

One of my friends from my small group study recently shared this article with me regarding a study recently conducted that seemed to show that there is a correlation between the decline in Bible reading and morals in the United States.  Many followers of Christ would not see that as a surprise.  Here are some of the highlights of the article:


  • The Bible continues to dominate both mind space and book retail space as America’s undisputed best-seller.  
  • One in six people reported buying a copy of the Bible in the last year.
  • 80 percent of Americans identify the Bible as sacred.
  • Americans have plenty of copies at their fingertips—an average of 4.4 Bibles per household.
  • 56 percent of adults believe the Bible should have a greater role in U.S. society.
  • Actual Bible reading and perceptions about the Bible have become increasingly polarized, with 6 million new Bible antagonists in the last year alone.
  • More than half (57 percent) of those ages 18-28 report reading the Bible less than three times a year or never.
  • While those ages 18-28 are the least likely age group to read the Bible, they are the most interested in receiving input and wisdom from it on several topics including:
    • Parenting (42 percent, compared to 22 percent of all adults)
    • Family conflict (40 percent, compared to 24 percent of all adults)
    • Dating and relationships (35 percent, compared to 16 percent of all adults)
    • Romance and sexuality (30 percent, compared to 17 percent of all adults)
  • In a non-election year, an increasing number of adults believe the Bible and politics do not mix (54 percent, compared to 49 percent in 2012). However, 69 percent still say their faith influences their views on political issues.


  • Full findings and infographic of study highlights are available at TheStateoftheBible.com.

    5 comments:

    John Moore said...

    What does it mean specifically to say morals are declining? The article says "Americans overwhelmingly believe morals and values are declining in the U.S. (77 percent)." But what are they really talking about?

    It could be support for abortion or gay marriage. Or sex outside of marriage. Or maybe crime and drug use - are they increasing? I'm just curious.

    The "Other Chad" said...

    Hi John,
    Welcome back to the blog and thank you for reading this post!

    Your question- “What does it mean specifically to say morals are declining?”

    I am assuming by now you have read the Mother Teresa vs. Hitler chapter in “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” which defines the Moral Law argument for God’s existence as:
    1.Every law has a law giver.
    2.There is a Moral Law.
    3.Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver.

    If the Christian God is the “Prescriber” of Moral Law, one way that He reveals His prescription to us is through His Word. If we aren’t reading His prescription, we will not be able to fully understand what the Prescriber is directing us to do. As a result, I believe people who do not read/follow the prescription begin to assume that current behaviors are the moral standard instead of the original moral duties that were prescribed to them.

    Page 182 from the chapter referenced above:

    Absolute Morals vs. Changing Behavior:

    A common mistake of relativists is to confuse behavior with value. That is, they confuse what is with what ought to be. What people do is subject to change, but what they ought to do is not. This is the difference between sociology and morality. Sociology is descriptive; morality is prescriptive.
    In other words, relativists often confuse the changing behavioral situation with the unchanging moral duty. For example, when discussing a moral topic like premarital sex or cohabitation, you often hear people in
    support of it say something like, “Get with it, this is the twenty-first century!”
    as if current behaviors dictate what’s right and wrong. To illustrate the absurdity of the relativist’s reasoning, you need only to turn the discussion
    to a more serious moral issue like murder, which also occurs much
    more frequently in America today than it did fifty years ago. How many relativists would speak in support of murder by asking us to “Get with it,this is the twenty-first century!”? That’s where their reasoning takes them
    when they confuse what people do with what they ought to do.

    God Bless,

    The "Other Chad"

    Andrew Ryan said...

    The Other Chad, I don't think you answer John's question. You argue that there is such a thing as objective morality, but John didn't appear to be arguing the contrary in his post, he was just asking a) What is meant by Americans believing morals are declining, and b) Do we have figures to show that they actually are?

    Neither of these questions have anything to do with moral relativism. Regardless of how you, or indeed any Gods view gay marriage, I believe the majority of Americans now do not see it as immoral. Therefore, the majority of Americans would not see the coming of gay marriage as a sign that morals are declining. This has nothing to do with whether gay marriage IS immoral, it just informs how we should interpret the statistics on Americans view of declining morals.

    On John's second point, it is interesting to note whether Americans believe the country is worsening on issues such as crime and the way we treat each other. But it's more pertinent to look at actual statistics on crime levels.

    My own contribution to this issue would be to ask if there's any kind of correlation between levels of crime and bible readership on an individual level. In other words, does ignoring the bible make one more likely to commit crimes. I know that if one looks at religion on entry for prisons, atheists are way under-represented compared to the general population. In other words, atheists are less likely to commit crimes than Christians.

    However, I also believe that the very religious are the least likely among Christians to commit crime.

    The "Other Chad" said...

    Andrew, in response to you post:

    This has nothing to do with whether gay marriage IS immoral, it just informs how we should interpret the statistics on Americans view of declining morals.

    I’m not going to disagree with you on this. This article gave statistics on Amercian’s viewpoint on what they feel are contributing factors to why morals are declining. But that does not mean there could not be a correlation Bible reading and how one responds to moral values and duties.

    On John's second point, it is interesting to note whether Americans believe the country is worsening on issues such as crime and the way we treat each other. But it's more pertinent to look at actual statistics on crime levels.

    So are you saying that morality is really judged by whether or not we commit a crime?

    My own contribution to this issue would be to ask if there's any kind of correlation between levels of crime and bible readership on an individual level. In other words, does ignoring the bible make one more likely to commit crimes. I know that if one looks at religion on entry for prisons, atheists are way under-represented compared to the general population. In other words, atheists are less likely to commit crimes than Christians.
    However, I also believe that the very religious are the least likely among Christians to commit crime


    Again, not going to disagree, there probably are a lot less atheists incarcerated when comparing it to other religions. But would that be surprising when they make up less than 10% of the US population? And my experience has been that people tend to get very religious when they go to jail.

    Andrew Ryan said...

    "So are you saying that morality is really judged by whether or not we commit a crime? "

    I'm saying it's ONE way of checking whether things are actually getting worse, or whether people just perceive them to be getting worse.

    "there probably are a lot less atheists incarcerated when comparing it to other religions. But would that be surprising when they make up less than 10% of the US population? "

    Other Chad, I specifically said ' atheists are way under-represented compared to the general population', in other words, the percentage of the prison population that is atheist is much smaller than the percentage of the GENERAL population that is atheist. My point stands.

    "And my experience has been that people tend to get very religious when they go to jail."

    Right, which is why I specifically made reference to religion 'ON ENTRY' to prison, so the figures are not skewed by conversions. Again, my point stands.

    "But that does not mean there could not be a correlation Bible reading and how one responds to moral values and duties"

    Sure, it doesn't rule it out. But it doesn't count as evidence for it either.