(Ventura, California) - As the United States becomes a more pluralistic nation, it would be expected that a broader base of books would be accepted by increasing numbers of adults as "sacred literature" or "holy books." A new survey by The Barna Group discovered that about two-dozen such books were listed by a national sample of 1003 adults. However, only four books were listed by at least 1% of the public, and just one book was deemed to be sacred or holy by at least 5% of the public.
The Bible Stands Alone
The only book listed by at least 5% was the Bible, which was named as a holy book by 84% of the public. Although the same percentage of respondents (84%) described themselves as Christian, one out of every 14 of them (7%) did not consider the Bible to be sacred literature, while nearly two out of every five adults who do not consider themselves to be Christian (38%) categorized the Bible as holy.
Three-quarters or more of most subgroups of the population listed the Bible as a holy book. The only exceptions were Asians (just 54% mentioned the Bible); people associated with non-Christian faith groups (59% of whom listed the Bible); atheists and agnostics (30%); and people who describe themselves as "mostly liberal" on social and political issues (69%).
Men are much less likely than women to consider the Bible to be sacred literature (78% versus 90%, respectively). There was an even larger gap between political liberals (69%) and conservatives (93%). People under the age of 40 were notably less likely than older Americans to accept the Bible as holy (77% versus 90%, including only 67% of the adults ages 18 to 23), and downscale individuals were more likely than upscale adults to do so (88% versus 77%).
There were substantial differences based upon ethnicity as well. Whites and Hispanics held the middle ground, with 83% claiming the Bible to be sacred, while blacks (96%) and Asians (54%) were at the opposite ends of the opinion continuum on this matter.
Other Sacred Literature
Although two dozen documents were named by respondents as constituting sacred literature, only three other books were labeled as such by at least 1% of the public. Those included the Koran (deemed a holy book by 4%); the Book of Mormon (3%); and the Torah (2%). Muslims, whose holy book is the Koran, represent about one-half of one percent of the nation’s population. Mormons, who include the Book of Mormon as one of their sacred texts, are roughly 2% of America. Jews, who include the Torah among their holy documents, are also about 2% of the adult public.
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