Religion

Americans Who Take The Bible Literally Reaches New Low

A Gallup poll published on May 15 showed that the percentage of Americans who believe the Bible is the literal word of God is at a 40-year low.

Gallup recorded 24 percent of respondents who registered their belief that the Bible should be considered literally as God's word.

The figure represents the first time in the poll's history that so-called biblical liberalism, or those who believe the Bible is the literal word of God, has been beaten by biblical skepticism.

Conversely, 26 percent of Americans reported believing that the Bible is "a book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man."

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The polling company found a significant proportion of Americans, about 47 percent, reported believing that the Bible is inspired by the words of God, though not every word should be taken literally.

Young adults saw the most dramatic downward shift from the start of Gallup's 40-year trend to the present. In 1976, 32 percent of people aged 18-29 believed that the Bible was the literal word of God, whereas 12 percent of young adults reported the same belief in 2017.

Those in the age bracket from 30-49, as well as those with college degrees responded at higher rates that they believed the Bible was not the literal word of God.

For the 2016 general election, Pew Research documented voter majorities for then-candidate Donald Trump in many Christian-based faiths, including Protestant Christians and white evangelical Christians.

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Pew Research exit polling during the 2016 presidential election revealed that Trump took majority shares of 58 percent for Protestant Christians, and 81 percent for white evangelicals.

The latter share is greater than the percentage of white evangelical Christians who voted for Mitt Romney, John McCain or George W. Bush in the 2012, 2008, and 2004 elections, respectively.

Some experts are of the belief that this voting pattern among American Christians is indicative of a change in people's religious values.

"The 2016 election laid out graphically what is in essence the loss of Christian America," said Wayne Flynt, a professor of history at Auburn University, according to the Financial Times.

"Arguably, what has constituted white evangelical Christian morality for 200 years no longer matters, which is to say we're now a lot like Germany, a lot like France, a lot like England, a lot like the Netherlands, and what we have is a sort of late-stage Christian afterglow."

Flynt agues that, for evangelicals in particular, frequently base voting decisions on a select few policy platforms.

"What has happened to American Christianity is there is this afterglow of what a candidate is supposed to represent," continued Flynt.

"It's no longer moral character. It's policy positions on things that bother evangelicals."

Sources: Gallup, Pew Research Center, Financial Times / Photo credit: Pastor Robert/Flickr