Could regular Bible reading make our politics more civil and effective?



At a time when elections are more often about candidates leveling personal attacks against opponents rather than stating the case for their own leadership qualifications, when the superficial is often questioned more than a voting record or policy position, what could possibly improve the style and substance of American elections? New research points to something that might help: more Bible reading.

A new report finds that Americans believe politicians on both sides of the aisle could benefit from increased Bible reading. 

American Bible Society’s annual State of the Bible research found that 56 percent of Americans believe regular Bible reading would make politics more civil. And the Bible could be a valuable tool for making politicians more effective once they are elected, according to the majority of Americans.

The survey, commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Group, discovered that 58 percent of Americans believe regular Bible reading would actually make politicians more effective.

The majority of Americans seem to recognize that politicians could benefit from the wise teachings of the Bible.

For a while now, Americans have said they aren’t happy with the status quo. A survey released during the last presidential campaign found most Americans—78 percent—were frustrated by the negative tone of political discourse in the campaign.

The Knights of Columbus-Marist survey found that 66 percent of those surveyed believed the candidates actually spent more time attacking their opponents than talking about policy issues. The research seems to indicate that Americans would welcome a more civil political process.

The majority of Americans seem to recognize that politicians could benefit from the wise teachings of the Bible. The Bible’s message of love for one’s neighbor, admonition to put the good of others before one’s own desires, and instruction to seek justice for all are as resonate today as they have ever been.

Could increased Bible reading actually lead to more hands stretched across the aisle? Could it inspire civility among candidates and convince politicians to work together for the good of the citizenry?

In the opinion of the majority of Americans, seeking the wisdom of Scripture and putting it into practice might just be what candidates need for a more civil political process and a way for elected officials to govern more effectively.

And what about the rest of us? We, too, could benefit from the Bible’s wisdom in making our own tongues more civil and lives more purposeful. Perhaps we could lead our leaders by example.

One thing is certain: another attack-as-usual campaign cycle won’t do anything to improve the tone of politics or the effectiveness of our government.

Roy Peterson is president and CEO of American Bible Society (ABS). Visit the ABS website, like ABS on Facebook and follow ABS on Twitter.