Are People Reading LESS Scriptures During COVID-19?
With Church being closed down for most religions, the question one might ask is, "Are people reading less scriptures?"
For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day, the Come Follow Me program is an inspired direction that the General Authorities prepared for us in case a time like this happened. Home Church study has been very beneficial for many individuals and families, but still begs the question, are people reading less scriptures during this pandemic?
The American Bible Society released its 10th annual State of the Bible report, showing that:
“Despite nearly every individual in the U.S. having access to the Bible, engagement has decreased. That’s been a consistent trend over the past few years, and the trend has accelerated since January 2020 throughout the pandemic."
The study has shown that there is a correlation of increased scripture engagement when Church organizations are open. But due to COVID-19, meetinghouses all over the country and the world are shut down.
Elder David A. Bednar in a livestream to the Religious Freedom Annual Review warned there is a danger in limiting a religious organization’s right to gather.
“Gathering, in short, is at the core of faith and religion. Indeed, if the faithful are not gathering, sooner or later they will begin to scatter. And because gathering lies at the very heart of religion, the right to gather lies at the very heart of religious freedom.”
Coming back to
The American Bible Society's report, it is very easy to see the strong correlation that Church attendance has with scripture study.
“This study supports the idea that the Church plays a significant role in benefitting people’s wellbeing and Scripture engagement,” said Dr. John Farquhar Plake, Director of Ministry Intelligence at American Bible Society. “To increase Scripture engagement, we must increase relational connections with one another through the Church. The pandemic – and now this survey – have shown that when relational church engagement goes up, so does Scripture engagement, but when it goes down, Scripture engagement drops with it. In other words, it’s probably the relationships people have with one another through Church that really make the difference.”
There are some positives though to this study in terms of the relationship individuals have with their scripture study and COVID-19. These findings definitely show how humans react to hard times and it's telling of who we are as people:
Americans who have been personally impacted by the coronavirus were more likely to read the Bible. Individuals were most likely to report an increase in Bible engagement if a family member in their household or a neighbor died from COVID-19. For those that have not personally known anyone who has died from COVID-19, their level of Bible engagement tended to stay the same.
While spirituality may seem optional in day-to-day life, people tend to look to the Bible for hope amid crisis. 8 in 10 individuals who were hospitalized by COVID-19 said they wished they had used the Bible more. Others who did not experience the fear as acutely decreased their Bible engagement, or it stayed the same as it was in January.
Food, TV/streaming services and prayer/meditation have been the top sources of comfort during the pandemic. Those tending to be more Scripture engaged were more likely to seek the Bible, family members and prayer/meditation for comfort. Those tending to be less Bible engaged were more likely to seek food, tv/streaming, and prescription drugs as sources of comfort.
To read more about the study, click here and read from the source!