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Millennials Leading Shift to Less Bible Reading

Heath Adamson, senior director of Youth Ministries for the Assemblies of God, says the new information age has brought to the surface a new way of perceiving truth.

The youngest adults in the U.S. — millennials who are ages 18-29 — are behind a shift toward viewing Scripture with skepticism rather than reverence, a recent report by the American Bible Society indicates.

Overall, 79 percent of Americans still believe the Bible as a sacred book, but that has dropped from 86 percent only three years ago, according to the ABS survey conducted by the Barna Group. Among adults under 30, less than two-thirds (64 percent) consider the Bible sacred literature.

The number of Americans who own a Bible remains unchanged in recent years, at 88 percent. The average number of Bibles per household is 4.7, and even a majority of atheists and agnostics claim to have one.

Nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) say they never or rarely read the Bible. Two-thirds of adults under 30 say they rarely or never read the Bible. In the general population, 15 percent say they read Scripture daily.

Heath Adamson, senior director of Youth Ministries for the Assemblies of God, says the new information age has brought to the surface a new way of perceiving truth.

“Deconstructionism and pluralism challenge students to question even the most elementary of truths,” Adamson says. “Some may even wonder if two plus two still equals four. Scripture serves as both the compass and the map for all generations. His Word is truth and truth, whose name is Jesus, became flesh. Reading the Word creates an opportunity to see truth clearly in a foggy world.”

Despite the rise in digital technologies, Bible readers overwhelmingly prefer to read a print version (84 percent) over digital (10 percent) or audio (5 percent). Although three-fourths of Americans own a smartphone or mobile phone, just one in five of who do have downloaded a Bible app.

Slightly more than one-fourth of millennials believe the Bible has too much influence in American society, compared to 16 percent in all.

A total of 12 percent of Americans consider the Quran, Islam’s holy book, as sacred. Among all ages, 18 percent think the Bible, Quran, and the Book of Mormon contain the same spiritual truths, although almost one-fourth of millennials say so.

John W. Kennedy

John W. Kennedy served as news editor of AG News from its inception in 2014 until retiring in 2023. He previously spent 15 years as news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and seven years as news editor at Christianity Today.