View of Bible as secular stories and history at 26%, up from 21% in 2014
24% believe Bible is literal word of God, lowest in Gallup’s 40-year trend
47% still think Bible is inspired word of God
Growing numbers of Americans no longer say they belong to any church
According to Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll, fewer than 1 in 4 Americans (24%) now believe the Bible is “the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally, word for word.” Conversely, 26% of Americans view it is as “a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.”
This is the first time in Gallup’s four-decade (trend) old poll that the number of biblical-sceptics in America has surpassed biblical-literalists.
Approximately half of Americans (47%) – a proportion largely unchanged over the years – believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God (non-literalists).
Whilst the 47% figure has hardly varied over the last 50 years, the surge of scepticism marks an important change in American culture.
The findings by Gallup poll reflect a longstanding generational change: young Americans are increasingly rejecting Christianity.
More than a third of those born after 1981 now identify as irreligious. By contrast, in 1957 this figure for all ages was 1%.
Although biblical-literalism has waned, the vast majority of Americans (71%) still hold the holy-book as at least God-inspired if not God’s own words.
The findings also show that non-whites, adults aged 50 and older, and adults with no college education, are more likely to believe that the Bible is “the actual word of God”.
Biblical-sceptics are more likely to be male, white, adults aged 18 to 29, as well as those aged 30 to 49, and college graduates.
In 1976, some of the same groups (older Americans and Protestants, along with women) were more likely to be biblical-literalists. There has been a trend away from this – a double digit drop among every group. However, it is young adults who make up the largest drop – falling by more than half, from 32% to 12%.
Benjamin David founded Conatus News in 2016. He currently works as an editor for Parliamentary Review.