NEWS BRIEFS: Bible reading changes views of conservatives & liberals, study says

WACO, Texas (BP)--One activity can bring Christians, whether conservative or liberal, together: reading their Bible, a Baylor University research assistant, has reported.

Frequently reading the Bible changed the attitudes of all Christians no matter their political background, Aaron Franzen reported in a news release from Baylor's Association of Religion Data Archives.

"Thus, even as opposition to same-sex marriage and legalized abortion tends to increase with more time spent with the Bible, so does the number of people who say it is important to actively seek social and economic justice," the ARDA release said.

Franzen said he believes little research has been done in this area of Christian life because so many people think they know what the Bible says and find reading it "a habitual and ultimately meaningless activity."

But the study, released in early July analyzing the Baylor Religion Survey's 2007 data, arrives at a different conclusion. Franzen's findings revealed that habitual Bible reading led to a consolidation of viewpoints on several political and social issues:

-- Almost half of the survey respondents who read their Bible less than once a year supported gay "marriage," while only 6 percent of those who dug into the Word several times a week or more believed gay couples should be able to obtain a marriage license.

-- As Christians read the Bible more frequently, they were 27 percent more likely to believe it is important to consume less to be a good person and 22 percent less likely to think science and religion are incompatible.

-- Bible readers also were more likely to be against abortion, expanding the government's authority to fight terrorism, harsher punishment of criminals and the death penalty.

However, the agreement on these issues from people in all political camps is not widespread because daily or weekly Bible reading is not as common as many would think, Franzen said.

The study showed that the majority of people do not read their Bibles frequently. Less than a quarter of those surveyed said they read Scripture weekly or more often.

CORAL RIDGE MINISTRIES CHANGING NAME -- Coral Ridge Ministries, founded by the late D. James Kennedy, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is changing its name, almost four years after its founder's passing.

The new name, Truth in Action Ministries, was announced July 20 in connection with several changes in Coral Ridge television and radio programming.

The transition is being implemented "to aid the outreach as it seeks to advance biblical truth and equip believers to make a difference in their local communities," Hector Padron, executive vice president of Truth in Action Ministries, said in a July 20 press release. The new ministry name is "a means to reach more people and have a bigger impact on the culture by not just educating people on social issues and biblical worldview, but motivating and activating them to make a difference for the Kingdom.... We will continue to fulfill Dr. Kennedy's vision of presenting biblical truth in love and without compromise through the media."

The name was approved in 2010 by the Coral Ridge Ministries Board and was finalized "after more than a year of prayer, planning, consulting with outside organizations, and talking with ministry friends and supporters," the press release said.

The newly renamed TV program, "Truth That Transforms with Dr. D. James Kennedy," will continue to present pulpit messages from Kennedy and features on current moral and social concerns, according to the statement.

Kennedy, whose Evangelism Explosion lay-witnessing method helped lead millions of people to Christ, died Sept. 5, 2007, at age 76 following complications from a Dec. 28, 2006, heart attack. Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of Billy Graham, was chosen to succeed Kennedy as pastor of the church in 2009.


Compiled by Whitney Jones, a student at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., who is serving as an intern with Baptist Press, and Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.

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