More than one-quarter of Americans believe the Bible is the verbatim word of God and should be taken literally, according to a new Gallup poll.
A survey of more than 1,000 people showed that 28 percent believe “the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word,” and 47 percent believe the Bible is inspired by God but open to interpretation.
A similar poll in 2012 found that 30 percent believed in the literal interpretation of the Bible.
Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who believe the Bible is “ancient fables, legends, history, and precepts written by man” has risen from 17 percent to 21 percent since 2012.
“Despite some evidence that Americans are becoming more detached from formal religion, the vast majority of Christians, and therefore of Americans, still view the Bible as God’s word,” the survey stated.
About 75 percent of the people taking the survey were Christian and about one-quarter were non-Christian.
Gallup split the survey takers into two groups, offering the second group a fourth optional answer when asked about their perception of the Bible. Of the 500 people who were able to choose “the Bible is the actual word of God, but multiple interpretations are possible,” 28 percent took that option.
“The new question indicates that the percentage of Americans taking the Bible literally is even lower, at 22 percent, when respondents are offered more alternatives,” the survey stated.
But the nearly 78 percent who agreed with one of the three options that relate God’s word to the Bible shows that “three in four Americans consider the Bible holy to some degree.”
The survey was conducted via phone between May 8 and May 11. The results of both survey groups have a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5 percentage points.