Presidential elections are rarely kind and congenial affairs, but many pundits and politicos—and even the current president—think this year’s primary season has been more abrasive than usual. Aside from the candidates and their teams practicing civility, is there anything else that might improve the tenor of American political discourse?
According to American Bible Society’s annual “State of the Bible” survey powered by Barna, half of American adults (51%) say politics would be more civil if politicians engaged in regular Bible reading. A similar majority (53%) says American politicians would be more effective if they read the Bible on a regular basis. In addition, nearly half of all adults (46%) say they wish the Bible had greater influence on American society.
These views are likely influenced by most people’s belief that the Bible is sacred literature (80%) and that it contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life (66% strongly or somewhat agree). Among Elders aged 70 and older and Boomers 51 to 69, the percentages are even higher: nine out of 10 Elders (91%) and Boomers (88%) consider the Bible sacred and three-quarters (79% Elders, 74% Boomers) agree the Bible’s contents are sufficient for living a meaningful life.
Overall, Americans hold the Bible in high regard.
Younger Generations Are More Skeptical
Americans with a positive opinion of the Bible and its teachings are in the majority—but the majority is not evenly distributed across the population. Generally, American adults under 50 tend to be more skeptical, or at least more ambivalent, about the Bible than older adults, and this is especially true of Millennials aged 18 to 31. For example, fewer young adults consider the Bible sacred literature (71% of Millennials and 75% of Gen-Xers, compared to 88% of Boomers, and 91% of Elders), and Millennials (22%) are three times more likely than Elders (7%) to say that none of the books considered sacred literature by many religions—including the Torah, the Koran, the Book of Mormon and “other”—are holy books.