Because the Bible Says So…


The Wash Times reports on a new series of polls by Gallup that document whether Americans believe the Bible is the literal, inerrant word of God (31 percent), "the inspired word of God" (47 percent), or "a book of ancient fables, history and 'moral precepts' recorded by man" (17 percent).

The recovering Catholic in me–and weekend clerk at St. Jerome's Good Tymes Vulgate and Scapular Shoppe–immediately asks: Which Bible?

Moving on, here's the weirdest bit from Gallup:

"It is interesting to note, however, that 10 percent of those with no religious identification still believe the Bible is literally the word of God, and another 26 percent say it is inspired," [Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank] Newport said.

Give those 10 percenters a drink on the house. And make it a double, because they're definitely going to hell. And it's not looking so good for the other 26 percent either. At least, that what the the Bible says.

Some other related findings of note in the Wash Times story:

Seventy-eight percent of Republicans and 69 percent of Democrats say the Bible is "totally accurate in all of its teachings," according to a survey of 1,006 adults conducted in January by the Barna Group, a marketing firm….

The Bible continues to be the best-selling book ever. Americans alone buy 25 million Bibles a year, according to Publisher's Weekly. Bible sales are now reaching $609 million a year, with specialty Bibles available for myriad "niche" audiences, from motorcycle riders to campers, brides and archaeologists. "Immerse," a water-resistant Bible for troops overseas, is now available from publisher Bardin & Marsee.

Whole story here.

Some years back, Reason explored "what the Christian culture industry tells us about secular society" in the wonderful–and respectful–story, "Jesus Sells."

Info of God's Secretaries, an excellent account of how the King James translation, widely considered the most influential version of the Bible, came into being.

Update: Justin Cole of the lefty watchdog group Media Matters points me to a recent report by his group filled with weeping and gnashing of teeth about how progressive religious figures are "Left Behind" (get it?) by the mainstream media. After looking at big newspapers and major TV broadcast and cable news shows, the study concludes, "Coverage of religion not only overrepresents some voices and underrepresents others, it does so in a way that is consistently advantageous to conservatives."

The big number MM compiles? "Combining newspapers and television, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed in news stories 2.8 times as often as were progressive religious leaders."

Eh, mebbe, but after a quick read of the study, it doesn't seem to control for the size of the various groups or audiences delivered by various preacher men. So if the Family Research Council's unfortunately named Tony Perkins has a bigger mailing list, he's more likely to get quoted than Sojourners' Jim Wallis (that both are basically tools for reasons that have nothing to do with God is arguably a more interesting question than how often they befoul the mediascape).

Read the whole report, which has lots of fun charts–and works overtime to explain why Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (both of whom had far more citations than anybody else mentioned in the study) don't really count as religious figures–here.