American Bible Society releases the third chapter of the 12th annual State of the Bible report, which highlights cultural trends in the U.S. regarding spirituality and Scripture engagement. The report shows that Americans who consistently read and apply the Bible report greater levels of hope and resilience. It also reveals that Americans’ overall scores of Human Flourishing have risen to or exceeded the pre-pandemic levels. The first three chapters are available to download at StateoftheBible.org.
“Our research continues to confirm that consistent Bible reading leads to hope and greater flourishing. Christians know that Jesus offers us full life; there’s no surprise here. But for those who are questioning their faith or even who need reassurance after a hard season, the data validates that applying the truths of Scripture leads to better health, better relationships, and a higher sense of purpose and meaning—all while bringing us closer to God,” said John Farquhar Plake, PhD and Director of Ministry Intelligence for American Bible Society. “To put it simply: the Bible’s message is not only spiritually transformative; it also transforms how we experience life on earth. There is restoration and healing in the Word of God, and we urgently need to point our hurting neighbors toward that life-changing truth.”
The State of the Bible 2022 findings come from a survey in January 2022 conducted by American Bible Society in collaboration with NORC at the University of Chicago, which produced 2,598 online or telephone responses from American adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Key findings analyzed in Chapter 3: Better Living Through the Bible
- Americans report feeling more hopeful this year. In every category on the Human Flourishing Index (developed by the team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) except for Mental and Physical Health, scores have returned to pre-pandemic Human Flourishing levels or exceeded them (page 61).
- The Bible makes a significant difference in well-being as measured by the Human Flourishing Index. Scripture Engaged people reported levels of flourishing 19 percent higher than those who don’t read the Bible on the five-domain Human Flourishing Index, which includes Happiness and Life Satisfaction, Mental and Physical Health, Meaning and Purpose, Character and Virtue, and Close Social Relationships. In every one of those five areas, the scores of the Scripture Engaged significantly exceeded those of the Bible Disengaged and the Movable Middle (page 63).
- Over these last three years, Scripture Engaged Americans have been at least 14 to 19 percent higher on the Hope Scale than people in the Movable Middle or Bible Disengaged categories (page 78).
- Generation Z reports the highest stress levels of all generation groups. While emerging adults have always experienced stressors related to transitioning to careers and families, COVID-19 has amplified and extended these stresses (page 70). COVID-19-related stress also followed population density, with people in cities reporting higher stress levels than those in rural areas (page 71).
- In each of the six Secure Flourishing domains (the Human Flourishing domains plus the category of Financial and Material Stability), those who have experienced trauma score lower than those who have not. The greatest disparities in flourishing between those who have experienced trauma and those who have not appear in the Financial and Material Stability and the Mental and Physical Health categories (page 74).
- When trauma sufferers are Scripture Engaged, they experience higher levels of well-being than those who have no report of trauma and are not engaging with the Bible; trauma still has a serious impact, but Scripture Engagement brings a resilience that promotes Human Flourishing more than trauma hurts it (page 76).
Between July and December 2022, American Bible Society will release six new chapters in the State of the Bible 2022story—including reports on the tools and technology people are using to engage with the Bible, faith across generations with interesting findings on Generation Z, and the influence of the Bible on philanthropy.