Increasing Numbers Of Americans Believe The Bible Is Just A Bunch Of Fables
This week, Luther Strange, a Republican U.S. Senator from Alabama, declared that, “President Trump is the greatest thing that’s happened to this country,” and said, “I consider it a biblical miracle that he’s there.”
It was a strange statement on many levels, given that Donald Trump is found nowhere in the Bible. How could Donald Trump’s presidency be a biblical miracle, when his presidency is taking place almost two thousand years after the last parts of the Bible were written?
Christians who seek to make their ancient holy book the standard for politics in our own time are used to putting their religious doctrine through a series of weird contortions in order to justify their ideological assertions. They’ll claim that the Bible contains advice about fiscal policy, and health care reform, and how to properly administer public lands. In the 2016 presidential election, the majority of American Christians voted for Donald Trump, and many of those who did agreed with the sentiment of Luther Strange, claiming that their god wanted Trump to win.
Mo Brooks, the other U.S. Senator from Alabama, said this week that he will read the Bible on the floor of the United States Senate until legislation passes to fund Donald Trump’s giant wall along the border with Mexico (the wall that Trump promised Mexico would pay for). Given the Bible-based antics of politicians like Strange and Brooks, one might think that the Christian Bible is at the core of the American identity.
A recent survey suggests the opposite: That the Bible is becoming increasingly marginal to Americans’ lives. For the 16th time since 1976, Gallup asked a sample of Americans to choose which of three statements best represents their belief about the Bible – the term used to describe the collection of holy texts that provides the foundation of Christian religious beliefs. The three statements were:
- “The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.”
- “The Bible is the inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally.”
- “The Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man.”
This year, only 24 percent of American respondents agreed with the idea that the Bible is literally true. 26 percent said that the Bible is a collection of fables. Back in 1976, 38 percent of respondents agreed with Biblical literalism, and only 13 percent said that the Bible is a collection of fables.
The survey also suggests that the decline in literalist belief in the Christian Bible is likely to continue in the future. The survey found decline in belief among all ages. Among young Americans, however, the increase in rejection of the idea that the Bible is sacred truth is taking place even faster than among older Americans. In 1976, 32 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 believed that the words of the Christian Bible are literally true. Today, only 12 percent of Americans in this age group have that belief.
So, the survey shows both that Americans have changed their minds and decided to reject Biblical literalism as they have aged AND that fewer young Americans are growing up believing in that the Bible is anything other than a bunch of fables.
In the years to come, the tactic of waving the Bible from politicians like Luther Strange and Mo Brooks will become less likely to bring respect, and more likely to provoke laughter.