Millennials and the Bible: 3 Surprising Insights

Millennials and the Bible: 3 Surprising Insights

October 23, 2014—Much has been made of the growing post-Christian sentiment among America’s youngest generation of adults. But how has this well-documented turn away from religion affected Millennials’ views of Christianity’s most sacred text?

Has the “brand” of the Bible suffered or significantly shifted among young adults?

In a recent study among Millennials, conducted in partnership with American Bible Society and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Barna Group sought to discover how changing ideas about Christianity might be affecting perceptions of the Bible. This study—the largest Barna Group has ever done on a single generation’s view of the Bible—looked at Millennials’ beliefs, perceptions and practices surrounding Scripture. Three significant—and surprising—insights emerged. 1) Practicing Christian young adults maintain a traditional, high view of Scripture. 2) In contrast, non-Christian Millennials hold ambivalent and sometimes extremely negative perceptions of the Bible and of those who read it. 3) And while the screen age has impacted Bible engagement, print remains Millennials’ favored format for Bible reading.

1. Practicing Christian Millennials Maintain a High View of Scripture
When it comes to Scripture, practicing Christian Millennials—self-identified Christians who attend church at least once a month and who describe their religious faith as very important to their life—are quite orthodox and continue to hold the Bible in very high regard. In fact, nearly all of them believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life (96%). The same proportion claim the Bible is the actual or inspired word of God (96%). Among these young adults, a plurality say, “The Bible is the actual word of God and should be taken literally, word for word” (46%); an additional four in 10 agree it is divinely inspired and has no errors, though “some verses are meant to be symbolic rather than literal” (39%); and 11% say the Bible is the inspired word of God, “but has some factual or historical errors.”

Additionally, practicing Christian Millennials cite the Bible as their greatest source for moral truth. Of the practicing Christian Millennials who believe in absolute moral truth (71%), four in 10 point to the Bible as the main source from which they have learned or discovered absolute moral truths and standards (39%). This far outpaces any other source, with church coming in second at only 16%, followed by parents at 14%.

The survey also sought to discover how Millennials prioritize Bible reading among their faith practices. Respondents were asked whether Bible reading is more important, less important or of equal importance to a variety of other spiritual disciplines. While Millennials as a whole say reading the Bible is of equal importance to the other spiritual disciplines assessed by the survey, practicing Christian Millennials consistently rank Bible reading as more important than other disciplines. For example, practicing Christian Millennials rank Bible reading as more important than church attendance (55% say Bible reading is more important), silence/solitude (50%), prayer (49%), worship (51%), acts of service (48%), communion (44%) and evangelism (42%).

Among practicing Christian Millennials, the Bible still holds a high—if not the highest—priority in their faith life.

2. Non-Christian Millennials Hold Ambivalent and Sometimes Extremely Negative Views about the Bible
Non-Christian Millennials, unlike their Christian counterparts, are much more likely to believe the Bible is just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice (45%). Only a combined 27% of non-Christians say the Bible is the inspired or actual word of God. A significant disparity between Christian and non-Christian beliefs about the Bible is to be expected, of course; however, non-Christian views of the Bible often tip from benign indifference toward strong skepticism. While a plurality of non-Christian Millennials relegate the Bible to merely a “useful book of moral teachings” (30%), nearly half agree with more negative characterizations: About one in five say the Bible is “an outdated book with no relevance for today” (19%) and more than one-quarter go so far as to say the Bible is “a dangerous book of religious dogma used for centuries to oppress people” (27%).

When asked to identify words they associate with the Bible, non-Christian Millennials are most likely to place the Bible within cultural mythology than to describe it in terms of the sacred or divine. Their top five word choices are “story” (50%), “mythology” (38%), “symbolic” (36%), “fairy tale” (30%) and “historical” (30%). Very few choose words that reflect divine origins: Just 12% of non-Christian Millennials picked the word “sacred” to describe the Bible, one in 10 chose “fact” and even fewer selected “revelation” (8%), “infallible” (3%) or “inerrant” (2%).

More than six in 10 non-Christian Millennials have never read the Bible (62%), but what do they think about those who do read it? For most, it seems to evoke feelings of alienation and distance. When they see someone reading the Bible in public, non-Christian Millennials say they assume the Bible reader is politically conservative (22%); that they don’t have anything in common with the person (21%); that the Bible reader is old fashioned (17%); or that they are trying to make a statement or be provocative (15%). Fewer than one in 10 non-Christian young adults indicate any kind of positive response, such as encouragement (7%) or joy (7%). Only 9% of non-Christians say they feel curious about what’s in the Bible when they see someone reading it—a disappointing statistic for those who hope their Bible reading could spark spiritual conversation with non-Christians.

On the other hand, for non-Christians whose Bible reading has increased in the past year (11%), the second most-cited reason for that increase is seeing how the Bible changed someone they knew for the better (27%). So, while seeing strangers reading the Bible in public may not be a positive catalyst, personal interactions with those who are affected for the better by the Bible are a strong recommendation for the Bible itself.

3. Millennials Still Prefer to Engage the Bible in Print
Screens have affected almost every part of modern life, and that includes religious practices. While all Millennials—significantly more than all adults—have, by and large, incorporated other mediums for engaging with the Bible, none of these trump reading a print version of the Bible (81%), or even hearing it read aloud at church (78%). In comparison, two-thirds of Millennials say they use the Internet on a computer to read Bible content (66%) and a little more than half read the Bible on an e-reader (51%).

What do Millennials think when the Bible comes to the big screen, little screen or whatever screen is currently in front of them? When it comes to the Bible as Hollywood entertainment, Millennials have mixed feelings. While nearly half appreciate the Bible being incorporated into entertainment today (49%), a sizable percentage sees it as Hollywood trying to make money (36%). Non-Christians, in particular, express this skepticism (58%).

When Bible-themed content does come to Hollywood, practicing Christians are the group most likely to view it. For all the shows surveyed (Noah, The Bible miniseries, Son of God, God’s Not Dead and Heaven Is for Real), practicing Christians were far and away the largest audience. In fact, only 14% of practicing Christian Millennials had not seen any of the movies, compared to 42% of all Millennials and a full 62% of non-Christian Millennials. Stated differently, a majority of Millennials has seen at least one biblical depiction on the small or large screen in the last year. Exposure to televised or movie versions of Christian content has penetrated to more than four out of five Christian Millennials and to more than one-third of non-Christian young adults.

One common way Millennials have taken to engaging with the Bible in a digital age is to post Scripture passages on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Unsurprisingly, practicing Christian Millennials are most likely to engage in this practice. A combined 81% have posted Scripture online in the past year: 30% do so a few times a year, 25% a few times a month, 13% a few times a week and 13% do so daily.

This practice evokes primarily positive emotions among practicing Christian Millennials and ambivalent or negative emotions among non-Christian Millennials. The most common responses from Christians when someone posts Scripture to social media are to feel encouraged (56%) and inspired (53%). Just over one-third find it bold in a good way (35%).

Non-Christians’ most common response is to say it bothers them if the verses are used naively or out of context (35%), which is interesting since most admit never having read the Bible themselves. Slightly fewer non-Christians say it’s “okay sometimes if you are religious” (33%). About the same number say they find it irritating and one-quarter assume the person posting it is judgmental (24%). About one-fifth believes the person is trying to evangelize (21%) or that the practice will push others away (18%). Of all the responses, non-Christians were least likely to feel inspired (9%) or encouraged (7%) when they see Scripture posted on social media.

What the Research Means
“Many Christians and Christian leaders are concerned about the next generation of Christians,” says David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group. “And for good reason. There is certainly a well-documented trend of Millennials leaving church or turning away from their faith. However, this current study on perceptions of the Bible gives church leaders some very good news about the Good Book: Active young Christians are holding true to historical and orthodox views on the Bible. In many ways, their commitment to the Bible stands in stark contrast to typical stereotypes of younger Christians.

“For the most part, the Bible is flourishing in the screen age, particularly among the faithful. Practicing Christian Millennials, in particular, are eager to see Bible-based content on the big screen and to engage with the Bible on the little screen by reading Scripture online and posting it to social media.

“However, these practices aren’t always appreciated by others in their generation. While many Christians might hope that Bible-based films or sharing Scripture online would reach non-Christians, our research suggests the opposite. Non-Christians tend to be more skeptical of biblical films and often feel turned off or alienated by seeing Scripture shared via social media. On the other hand, in the rare cases when non-Christians have increased their Bible reading in the past year, they often did so as a result of seeing how Scripture changed someone they knew. Such responses emphasize the importance of meaningful relationships and evidence of life transformation.

“Finally, for non-Christian Millennials, the ‘brand’ of the Bible is a negative one,” Kinnaman continues. “The depth and range of these perceptions signal difficult challenges for younger adults who still believe in the Bible. As Bible skepticism increases in their generation, Christian Millennials will have to face those criticisms head on and wrestle with the implications for their own beliefs. Yet when it comes to the Bible—more than many other areas of their faith—Millennial Christians are starting off on comparatively solid ground.”

Comment on this research and follow our work:
Twitter: @barnagroup | @davidkinnaman | @roxycomposed | @clintjenkin
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About the Research
MillennialPollSM included 1,000 online surveys conducted among a representative sample of young adults, ages 18 through 30 in the United States. The survey was conducted from August 18, 2014 through August 22, 2014. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/-3.1 percentage points, at the 95% confidence level. Minimal statistical weighting was used to calibrate the sample to known population percentages in relation to demographic variables.

Practicing Christians describe themselves as Christians who attend church at least once a month and believe their religious faith is very important in their life today.

Millennials (or Mosaics) are the generation born between 1984 and 2002; Gen-Xers (or Busters), between 1965 and 1983; Boomers, between 1946 and 1964; and Elders, in 1945 or earlier.

The research was jointly commissioned by the American Bible Society, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and Barna Group.

About Barna Group
Barna Group (which includes its research division, Barna Research Group) is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.

If you would like to receive free e-mail notification of the release of each update on the latest research findings from Barna Group, you may subscribe to this free service at the Barna website ( Additional research-based resources are also available through this website.

© Barna Group, 2014

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Free counters!

started November 13, 2011

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Mexico prosecutor: Iguala mayor linked to attack on students that left 6 dead, 43 missing

  • Mexico Violence-1.jpg

    FILE – In this May 8, 2014 file photo, the mayor of the city of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, right, and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa meet with state government officials in Chilpancingo, Mexico. Abarca ordered a police attack that resulted in six deaths and the disappearance of 43 students who remain missing weeks later, the country’s top prosecutor, Murillo Karam, said Wednesday, Oct. 22. Karam also said Abarca’s wife has been linked to drug gangs and is now considered a fugitive, along with her husband and the Iguala police chief. (AP Photo/Alejandrino Gonzalez, File) (The Associated Press)

Mexican authorities say the mayor of a southern town ordered a police attack that resulted in six deaths and the disappearance of 43 students who remain missing weeks later.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said Wednesdsay that Iguala city police received an order that they said came from Mayor Jose Luis Abarca to prevent the students from disrupting an event at which Abarca’s wife was presenting a report.

Both the mayor and his wife are now fugitives.

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Perils in Social Engineering

downloadSocial engineering has been an ancient, historic, and current goal throughout earth history. It is something done in every era, and often challenged by social engineering with total different goals. One of the challenges inherent with such engineering is that of unintended consequences.  Goals which some believe are necessary and desirable may have inherent difficulties if implemented.

An excellent example is the desire of a Nebraska school system to equalize sexual preferences and life styles, explicitly stating that to allow gender difference mention in school is “wrong”.

IMG_0944Without speaking to this goal, One day in Huron Woods Middle School class, I was struck with a serious unintended (I hope) consequence.  In our school system, a high school graduate needs two years of a foreign language. If teachers could not make gender differences, students would be unable to effectively and properly speak, for example, French.  French, and all other languages I can think of spoken on earth by significant numbers of people, have gender differences as an necessary part of its structure.  English definitely has that structure (he, her, etc.). We could not even teach English grammar and structure without gender words.

If pursued by school systems, their students will have no opportunity to speak proper English, let alone such foreign languages as may be taught. Talk about being at a disadvantage in the current world community.  Or is this engineering intended to force all other languages to abandon their language structures and embrace this social goal?  Would be rather an arrogance often found in Americans. Good Luck.

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Anonymous group of Chinese hackers release data from central Chinese government sites


UPDATED : Monday, 13 October, 2014, 5:26am

The Anonymous group of computer hackers yesterday followed up on its threat made on Friday to release data from mainland government websites.

It released hundreds of phone numbers and email addresses of the Ningbo Free Trade Zone in Zhejiang province and a job-search site run by the Changxing county administration, also in the coastal province.

Anonymous took the action shortly after the government denounced the group’s threat of cyberattacks, which were apparently in support of the protesters. The data also included individual IP addresses and names.

It was not immediately clear why the two websites were targeted. The government offices in charge of the websites could not be reached yesterday. The Ministry of National Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs were also not available to comment.

Anonymous said it had already infiltrated more than 50 mainland government databases and leaked 50,000 user names and emails, saying it was fullfilling promises to “stand and fight alongside the citizens of Hong Kong”. The group earlier targeted Hong Kong sites after issuing a first warning on October 2. In a public video message, Anonymous declared cyberwar on the government and police force for the use of tear gas against demonstrators. Anonymous made some sites either inaccessible or intermittently accessible on October 3.

Michael Gazeley, managing director of security service provider Network Box, said it was difficult to judge “whether [the earlier attacks] really are [the work] of Anonymous to start with” because Anonymous is a loosely associated group.

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Nebraska Teachers Told To Call Kids ‘Purple Penguins’ As ‘Boys And Girls’ Is Not ‘Gender Inclusive’

School Told to Call Kids ‘Purple Penguins’ Because ‘Boys and Girls’ Is Not Inclusive to Transgender
Nebraska teachers are instructed to ask students what their preferred pronouns are.

Children displaying oppressive cisgenderism

A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.

“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools.

“Create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet on the rug,” it advises.

The document also warns against asking students to “line up as boys or girls,” and suggests asking them to line up by whether they prefer “skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening.”

“Always ask yourself . . . ‘Will this configuration create a gendered space?’” the document says.

The instructions were part of a list called “12 steps on the way to gender inclusiveness” developed by Gender Spectrum, an organization that “provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages.”

Other items on the list include asking all students about their preferred pronouns and decorating the classroom with “all genders welcome” door hangers.

If teachers still find it “necessary” to mention that genders exist at all, the document states, they must list them as “boy, girl, both or neither.”

Furthermore, it instructs teachers to interfere and interrupt if they ever hear a student talking about gender in terms of “boys and girls” so the student can learn that this is wrong.

“Point out and inquire when you hear others referencing gender in a binary manner,” it states. “Ask things like . . . ‘What makes you say that? I think of it a little differently.’ Provide counter-narratives that challenge students to think more expansively about their notions of gender.”

The teachers were also given a handout created by the Center for Gender Sanity, which explains to them that “Gender identity . . . can’t be observed or measured, only reported by the individual,” and an infographic called “The Genderbred Person,” which was produced by

Despite controversy, Lincoln Superintendent Steve Joel has declared that he is “happy” and “pleased” with the training documents.

“We don’t get involved with politics,” he told KLIN Radio’s Drive Time Lincoln radio show.

“We don’t get involved with gender preferences. We’re educating all kids . . . and we can’t be judgmental,” he said.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter at National Review Online.

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Who decides just what is an Anglican?

Canterbury buries the instruments of unity


George Conger

The Archbishop of Canterbury has claimed the authority to determine who is Anglican. In a wide ranging conversation with the Church of Ireland Gazette, the archbishop offered his appreciation of the ecclesiology of the Anglican Communion, placing his office in the center of the church’s polity.

He further stated he saw the Anglican Church in North America as an ecumenical partner, not a member church of the Anglican Communion.

While Archbishop Justin Welby’s comments about the ecclesial relationship between the Church of England and the ACNA break no new ground, his defense of his appointment of an ACNA priest to an honorary post in the Church of England by asserting the priest’s orders were valid as they were conveyed by the Episcopal Church of the USA raises the question of the validity of the ministerial orders conveyed by ACNA’s bishops. The archbishop’s comments also appear put paid to the notion of four instruments of unity within the Communion, down grading the Anglican Consultative Council in setting the parameters of the Anglican world, placing the primates in a consultative role, while elevating his office as the arbiter of Anglicanism.

At the start of his 3 October 2014 interview with the Church of Ireland Gazette Archbishop Welby noted that he was surprised to learn that “virtually everywhere I have gone the analysis is that the definition of being part of the Anglican Communion is being in Communion with Canterbury  …  I haven’t faulted that [view],” he said adding that “most provinces of the Anglican Communion valued their relationship with Canterbury …  [And that] there remains in the overwhelming parts of the Communion an attachment to Canterbury.”

However, the Anglican Church in North America was not part of that particular fellowship. The ACNA is a “fellow member of the church of Christ in the world,” but added the “ACNA is a separate church. It is not part of the Anglican Communion.”

It is not clear from his definition whether by making communion with Canterbury the defining mark of being Anglican, the archbishop was saying that the Churches of the Porvoo Agreement (Church of Iceland, Church of Norway, Church of Sweden, Church of Denmark, Church of Finland, and the Baltic Lutheran Churches) were Anglican, while the ACNA was not. Nor was their mention of membership in the Anglican Consultative Council, which had also been seen as a mark of membership in the Communion.

Asked if the appointment of Dr. Tory Baucum to the position of Six Preacher at Canterbury Cathedral was a sign of reconciliation with the ACNA, Archbishop Welby stated Baucum’s past membership of the Episcopal Church, not his current status as a member of the ACNA, validated his appointment.

“Tory Baucum was ordained before ACNA emerged, many years before, and is a validly ordained with Anglican Orders and for that reason was eligible to be a Canterbury Six Preacher.”

The archbishop went on to say in his discussion of the ACNA:

“We are committed ecumenically to reconciliation of the churches, to visible unity this is John 17 particularly the last few verses. That is a profound commitment, a profound emotional and theological commitment. Where there is the possibility of reconciliation with ecumenical partners, ACNA is clearly an ecumenical partner, it is a fellow member of the church of Christ in the world, as with all ecumenical partners we seek reconciliation.”

Asked to comment about reports the 2018 Lambeth Conference had been cancelled, or that he was rethinking holding a conference, the archbishop said:

“I am not rethinking. I am following through with what I said to the primates when I was installed as archbishop, which was that by the end of 2014 I would seek to visit them all in their own country, their own home, discuss what it would look like, and make up collectively make up our minds on that. We are bang on schedule for that.”

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