In 2014, about four-in-ten Christians (42%) said reading the Bible or other religious materials is an essential part of what being Christian means to them personally. An additional 37% say reading the Bible is important but not essential to being a Christian, and 21% say reading the Bible is not an important part of their Christian identity.
This year, the Jewish festival of Passover – April 10 to 18 – coincides with the Christian celebration of Easter. And Easter, somewhat unusually, falls on April 16 in both the Orthodox and Western calendars.
Both Passover and Easter are based on biblical accounts. Passover commemorates the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt, as described in the Hebrew Scriptures. Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus, as described in the Christian Gospels. In this important season for both traditions, here are five key facts about Americans and their holy texts.
1) About a third of Americans (35%) say they read scripture at least once a week, while 45% seldom or never read scripture, according to 2014 data from our Religious Landscape Study. Frequency of reading scripture differs widely among religious groups. Majorities of Jehovah’s Witnesses (88%), Mormons (77%), evangelical Protestants (63%) and members of historically black Protestant churches (61%) say they read scripture at least once a week. By contrast, 65% of Jews say they seldom or never read scripture.
2) Three-quarters of Christians say they believe the Bible is the word of God. Eight-in-ten Muslims (83%) say the Quran is the word of God, according to the 2014 survey. Far fewer Jews (37%) say they view the Torah as the word of God.