Bible Society Relabels ‘Antagonists’ As ‘Skeptics’; Hardcore Doubters Are Now As Numerous As True Bible Lovers

People who dismiss the Bible as just a bunch of man-made stories are now as numerous as those who are so enamored of the Good Book that they read it at least four times a week:

The number of Americans who read Scripture at least four times a week and believe that it is the inspired word of God has fallen to just under 1 in 5, according to new research from the American Bible Society (ABS).

The same percentage of Americans (19 percent) are now “antagonistic” toward the Bible, reading it less than once per month and believing it is a book of teachings written by men that contain stories and advice.

“Antagonistic” is a loaded descriptor, something the ABS belatedly realized. So after their initial release, earlier this week, the survey results were recast as follows, according to Christianity Today:

ABS and Barna [a Christian research group] decided to soften the language used to describe Americans who are least engaged with the Bible.

The groups have “renamed the category formerly known as ‘Bible Antagonists’ as ‘Bible Skeptics,’ and now define the category as people who “selected the most negative or non-sacred view of the Bible from five options, saying they believe the Bible is just another book of teachings written by men, containing stories and advice.”

“The change reflects a recognition that ‘antagonistic’ may too strongly pigeon-hole those who have not yet embraced the Bible,” Geoffrey Morin, chief communications officer, told CT. “The new categorization, ‘Bible Skeptics,’ is both more accurate and more hopeful.”

The skeptics have “not yet embraced” the Good Book, Morin says. That sort of optimism is adorable. A year ago, the ABS acknowledged that the so-called antagonists in the U.S. had gotten stronger by six million in 2012. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said at the time that they “don’t personally want wisdom and advice from the Bible.”

Among Bible readers who are spending less time reading the book,

Being too busy was the number one reason … (40 percent), while 17 percent pointed to a significant life change, 15 percent became atheist or agnostic, and 10 percent went through a difficulty that caused them to doubt their faith.

How many of the Christians who were “too busy” to read the most important tome in the universe are on their way to abandon their faith, do you reckon? Hard to know, but I sure look forward to next year’s numbers.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.


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