A majority of U.S. teens hold the Bible in high regard, read it with some regularity and seek to find guidance for daily living in its pages, according to research conducted by Barna Group on behalf of the American Bible Society.
“American teens sometimes get a bad rap as being uninterested or even anti-faith,” said Arthur Satterwhite of the American Bible Society. “But [the] Teen State of the Bible report shows that a majority of America’s teens have respect for and interest in the Bible.”
The research resulted in 10 key findings:
1. Many teens have positive feelings about seeing people read the Bible in public.
2. A majority of teens (69 percent) own a Bible – 25 percent read it at least weekly and 52 percent read it at least once a year.
3. When teens read their Bibles, 68 percent do so for 15 minutes or longer.
4. The primary motivation to read the Bible for 54 percent of teens is to draw closer to God.
5. Digital versions of the Bible are growing in popularity, but 70 percent of teens still prefer to read a printed version.
6. A strong majority (86 percent) of teens said they believed the Bible was sacred literature.
7. Nearly half (47 percent) of all teens see the Bible as a source of hope, while 96 percent of Protestant teens and 67 percent of Catholic teens did so.
8. Views on biblical inspiration vary – 30 percent of all teens see the Bible as the inspired word of God without error (though some verses are symbolic), 20 percent affirm the Bible as the actual word of God (to be interpreted literally), and 16 percent say the Bible is the inspired word of God (with factual and historical errors).
9. Forty-percent of teens feel the Bible should have more influence on society, compared to 24 percent affirming that its influence is “just right” and 17 percent saying it has “too much influence.”
10. Teens were split on the Bible’s influence on political discourse – 53 percent said Bible reading would improve civility and 47 percent said it would not.
“In an increasingly secular culture, the Bible remains a highly regarded and well-read text among the vast majority of American teens,” reflected David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group and director of the study. “The research also tells us that teens care deeply about the relevance of the Bible to the world in which they inhabit. … The more youth pastors and leaders can make the Bible and its teachings relevant to challenges of today, the more they will simultaneously encourage engagement.”
The full report is available here.