By Jacqueline J. Holness
Although I attended church and Sunday school probably since a few days after I was born, it was not until I was a sixth grader that I began to love and appreciate the Bible. At that time my church formed a Bible Bowl team; as the minister’s daughter, of course I had to be a part of the team.
Though I was reluctant at first, the competition lured me to Scripture, and the camaraderie enriched my life like no other extracurricular activity before. As a formidable team, we traveled throughout the state and country competing with other church teams. We named ourselves the Central Christian Church Waves and our tagline was “Catch the Wave: Central,” (borrowed from the popular Coca-Cola® slogan at the time). When the team finally disbanded years later, I knew that I would continue to love and appreciate the Bible.
In partnership with the American Bible Society, Barna Group releases a yearly report revealing “Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward the Bible.” According to Barna Group, this “State of the Bible” comprehensive study shows six trends for 2014.
Among the most troubling is that “Bible skepticism is now ‘tied’ with Bible engagement.” Nearly doubling in three years, 19 percent of Americans believe that the Bible is “just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice.” This percent is equal to the number of Americans who actually regularly read and believe the Bible. Despite the increase of Bible skepticism, however, most Americans, 79 percent, are “pro-Bible.” Still that number has fallen from 86 percent in 2011. These numbers clearly illustrate shifting attitudes toward God’s Word.
According to the website of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation’s largest association of atheists and agnostics, they convinced officials at Iowa State University to remove Bibles from its Hotel Memorial Union rooms earlier this year. Last year the Wisconsin-based
foundation was also successful in convincing University of Wisconsin-Madison to remove Gideon Bibles from the school’s campus inn, the Lowell Center.
While the foundation’s victories may seem relatively small, American Christians must work to reverse a downward trend of disrespect or negativity toward the Bible that other countries are starting to accept as commonplace.
Great Britain will no longer be a Christian nation by 2030, according to a study conducted by the British Parliament. Maybe the decline of Christianity explains why Jonathan Denby, owner of the Damson Dene Hotel in England, replaced Gideon Bibles with the racy Fifty Shades of Grey in the hotel rooms in 2012, according to ABC News.
And as we know, some countries are downright hostile to the Bible. Earlier this year, according to Reuters, Jeffrey Fowle, a tourist, was detained in North Korea “allegedly for having left a Bible in his hotel.”
These reports also demonstrate that Christians need to do all that we can to support the efforts of those who uplift the Bible within our culture.
As I noted, Bible Bowl was what awakened the Word of God for me. I hope that The American Bible Challenge, hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy and musician Kirk Franklin, will have the same effect for households throughout the country. The Bible trivia game show, which debuted in 2012 and is in its third season, is the highest rated original series in the 18-year-history of the Game Show Network.
In December 2013, the mayor of Flower Mound, Texas, declared that 2014 would be the “Year of the Bible.” Mayor Tom Hayden’s vision is that “as a town, as many as wanted to participate, would as a community read through the entire Bible in a year together.” Through the One Year Bible program, each participant commits to reading the Bible daily. Imagine what would happen if other mayors challenged their towns and cities this way?
Finally, Thomas Nelson is partnering with Phil and Al Robertson of Duck Dynasty to release The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible next month. Written in the New King James Version, the Bible will include 30 testimonials and 125 “Set Your Sights” features from the two men.
While all these efforts are admirable, we don’t have to be on television or in local government to tell others about the Word of God and how it has impacted our lives. The Lord is counting on all Christians to do all that we can to spread his Word.
Jacqueline J. Holness, a member of Central Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, is a correspondent for Courthouse News Service,
an online, national news service for attorneys. Contact Jacqueline at afterthealtarcall.com.