published Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Faith Focus: Of polls, the Bible and love

Almost any poll can be manipulated to get any kind of response that the financing organization wants.

For instance, did you know many political polls are weighted with respondents in one political party or another, depending on the desired outcome? That fact alone would seem to cancel any effectiveness the poll might have, but polls continue to be reported because the uninformed reader/hearer/watcher never looks into the poll internals.

So when you hear this many people believe this, this many people believe that, don't put a whole lot of stock in the findings.

That said, here's a poll on the Bible that reports some pretty interesting things. But since it's an American Bible Society report, believe what you will.

On this Easter eve, 77 percent of Americans believe morals and values are declining in the United States, and the most-cited cause for the decline is a lack of Bible reading.

Not surprisingly, then, the report indicates 56 percent of adults believe the Bible should have a greater role in U.S. society.

However, behavior doesn't always follow belief.

While 66 percent of those surveyed agree the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life, 58 percent say they do not personally want wisdom and advice from the Bible, and about the same amount (57 percent) read it fewer than five times per year.

Americans ages 18 to 28 are the least likely age group to read the Bible, but they are the age group most interested in receiving advice from it on several topics.

Among those, 42 percent want to mine any advice the book has on parenting, compared to

22 percent of all adults. On family conflict, 40 percent of those ages 18 to 28 want to hear what it has to say, compared to 24 percent of all adults.

In the same group, 35 percent want to see what the Bible says about dating and relationships, compared with 16 percent of all adults. And 30 percent of respondents in the age group want to know what the book says about dating and relationships, compared to 17 percent of all adults.

Since younger adults get their information more and more from sources that require little reading, some may be taking their information from "The Bible" series on the History Channel.

A separate American Bible Society study says more than one in four (27 percent) of viewers of "The Bible" are self-professed non-Christians. The series, according to the study, even has beaten out ratings-heavy "American Idol" and "The Walking Dead" in viewership.

The study also found 79 percent of U.S. adults know about "The Bible" miniseries, 78 percent of less-active Christians have learned something new about the Bible from it, 69 percent of all viewers have learned something new about the book from watching, and 42 percent of all adults have watched at least one episode.

So be wary of polls, and watch or don't watch the series, but know this: The Bible is a book about love.

Put aside denominations, types of music in a worship, methods of baptism, ways of taking Holy Communion and which gender can preach and practice love for one another.

That's the story of Easter, the love of God for his people, poured out through the sacrifice of his son. If each of us individually offers love to one another every day, many of our problems will miraculously fade away. It's that simple.

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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