Bible literacy slipping amongst Australians

This is hardly surprising but findings from the last Church Life Survey has confirmed bible literacy slipping amongst Australian Christians. Yesterday the Sydney Morning Herald reported:

IT MIGHT be the greatest story ever told, but Bible literacy is slipping and not just among atheists. Devout churchgoers, especially Catholics, are losing touch with the scriptures of their faith, research shows.

Of those Australians who go to church, 21 per cent read their Bible daily, 14 per cent open it a few times a week and 6 per cent once a week.

But 24 per cent said they read their Bibles only occasionally, 18 per cent hardly ever and 17 per cent said they never read the Bible on their own as a private devotional activity, according to the research, which is based on the 2006 National Church Life Survey of 500,000 people who attended church from 22 denominations.

The most diligent Bible readers are Pentecostals, with 72 per cent saying they read the holy book daily or a few times a week, followed by Baptists (62 per cent), Anglicans (46 per cent), Lutherans (41 per cent) and Uniting (43 per cent). Dragging down the other denominations are Catholics, of whom 59 per cent confess they rarely consult their Bibles.

And the deeper question not explored here, beyond “how often are we reading the Bible?” is, “how are we reading the Bible?” Those reading it, are they reading it contextually, devotionally, how? To my mind, the scriptures are an essential spiritual resource for Christians. Mere literacy is only half the story don’t you think?

3 thoughts on “Bible literacy slipping amongst Australians

  1. Not really sure but its an interesting question. I did find this post interesting though:
    It suggested that Australia is still ranked 6th in the world for literacy. So I am inclined to suggest its not a 1:1 correspondance even if there is some link. The fact that we’re increasing post-Christendom is probably the bigger factor for loss of biblical literacy.


  2. Good point. I was thinking more of functional literacy. It’s one thing to be able to read, quite another to choose to read. Also, there’s a question of how we use our leisure time and how much of that we devote to private activity.
    I suspect in Australia people are doing a lot of reading in the sense of internet, and basic news/sports. But, what texting is the trend in terms of “serious” reading, reading in extended blocks of time, or reading as a leisure activity?


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