• The American Bible Society’s annual State of the Bible report finds that approximately 26 million people have mostly or completely stopped reading the Bible in the last year. Christianity Today magazine (April 20) reports on the survey, which in 2021 had found about 50 percent of Americans saying they read the Bible on their own at least three or four times per year, following a rate that had been more or less steady since 2011. In 2022, however, that rate has fallen by 11 points, with only 39 percent now saying they read the Bible multiple times per year. This is the sharpest decline on record—and it wasn’t only occasional Bible readers who didn’t pick up the scriptures as frequently in 2022. More than 13 million of the most engaged Bible readers—as shown by reading frequency, feelings of connection to God, and impact on day-to-day decisions—said they read the Bible less. Only about 10 percent of Americans report daily Bible reading, where that figure was at about 14 percent before Covid. Researcher John Plake says that the dramatic change shows how closely Bible reading—even independent Bible reading—is connected to church attendance. When regular services were interrupted by the pandemic and related health mandates, it impacted not just the corporate bodies of believers but also individuals at home.
  • (Christianity Today, 465 Gundersen Dr., Carol Stream, IL 60165)

    Source: State of the Bible – American Bible Society.


  • QAnon, an amorphous movement based on conspiracy theories about the “deep state,” is likely to grow in “membership” in upcoming years and maybe even in violent tendencies, according to a study of the phenomenon in the social science magazine Society (online March 28). Conducting a comparative case analysis of groups and movements similar to QAnon, criminologists Omi Hodwitz, Steff King, and Jordan Thompson argue that it will remain on the scene for the foreseeable future. The researchers view QAnon as a decentralized movement and also a quasi-Christian one, in that it draws on evangelical-style terminology and invites participation from the conservative religious community. The article compares QAnon to a disparate set of movements and terrorist organizations—Christian Identity, the Lyndon LaRouche movement, Phineas Priesthood, and Atomwaffen Division—arguing that they are the most similar to QAnon in their qualities of leadership, ideology, methods of recruitment, and membership.

    The authors (who draw on theories from the anti-cult movement) write that in some ways QAnon shares characteristics with new religious movements, having a charismatic leadership (the mysterious “Q” and Donald Trump by proxy), strong membership devotion to an ideology, and suggestibility (even “brainwashing”). But QAnon also has similarities to terrorist groups, with a decentralized structure and a tendency to violence. Arguing that similarities or uniformities in the trajectories of the comparison groups suggest the probability that QAnon will follow the same trajectory, the researchers show that all four comparison groups have survived, show stability, and have growing memberships and geographical expansion. With the exception of the LaRouchites, the groups also all continue to engage in violence. Hodwitz, King, and Thompson predict that QAnon, still “in its fledgling years…is not likely to fade out at any point in the near future. QAnon may have years, if not decades, of active life ahead of it, championing political, social, and religious change…likely increasing in membership and regional expansion. In addition, continued violence is expected, one of many tactics employed by Anons, although the centrality of violence as a tool is open to debate.”

  • (Society,

    Source: Mark Nozell | Flickr.


  • New worship and praise songs have had a far shorter shelf life in congregations in recent years, according to a study led by Mike Tapper of Southern Wesleyan University. The study is based on an analysis of Christian Copyright Licensing International’s (CCLI) biannual reports, representing a listed sampling of the songs sung in various churches. The researchers retrieved and analyzed 64 biannual Top 100 CCLI lists dating back to their beginning in 1988. Writing on the Worship Leader website (April 20), they report that “higher numbers of churches, of presumably varying types and sizes, tend to introduce the same new and popular songs.” But the life-curves of the songs, averaged over five-year timespans, increasingly shorten over time—becoming three times shorter in songs emerging between 1995 and 2019.

    The researchers write that, collectively, newer songs consist of “comparably steeper rises, diminished peaks, and more rapid falls than older songs. While some individual songs in each five-year timespan defy the start-rise-peak-fall pattern of its aggregated curve, many songs in the same span reinforce it.” Songs are declining three times faster than they did 25 years ago. Those emerging between 2000 and 2004 fell 23 percent more rapidly than those that emerged between 1995 and 1999. The authors ask whether “songs are falling and disappearing from the lists faster to make room for new songs (a ‘displacement’ theory) or because they oversaturate the culture (a ‘dissatisfaction’ theory).” In either case, their findings indicate that more churches are singing the same songs while they are doing so for shorter and shorter seasons.

  • (Worship Leader,

    Source: Church Relevance.


  • When compared to young Catholics in other racial groups, young black Catholics report greater religious flourishing than their peers, according to a study by Springtide Research. Thirty-nine percent of younger black Catholics in the survey said they were “flourishing a lot” in their faith lives, compared to just 21 percent of young white Catholics. The former also reported greater flourishing in other areas of their lives compared to Catholic peers in other racial groups. Young black Catholics were also found to be more traditionally religious, showing greater trust in organized religion and higher rates of attending religious services and youth groups, praying daily, and studying scripture. They were more likely to apply their beliefs in their daily lives and to seek out the church in times of need and crisis.

    Meanwhile, a new Pew study has found that most black Catholics worship in predominantly white churches and that they are increasingly immigrants. Only about 25 percent of black Catholics attend churches where the majority of congregants are black. Seeming to go against the above survey’s findings on religious flourishing, the Pew study reports that the main reason why black Catholics are such a small population is that they are the least likely of all Catholics to remain in the fold. While Catholics generally are prone to religious switching, black Catholics show the highest rates. The Catholic Church has 798 predominantly African American congregations across the country, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, most of which are on the East Coast and in the South. The study also found that 68 percent of black Catholics are U.S.-born, with a growing number coming from Africa (about 12 percent), the Caribbean (11 percent), or other parts of the Americas (5 percent).

  • (Springtide Research study:; Pew study:


  • A new study finds that younger Catholics in the UK show greater commitment to the church than older ones. The study, conducted by Stephen Bullivant and Ben Clements and based on an online survey of 1,823 Catholics, is published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (online in April). The researchers find younger cohorts showing greater involvement in some aspects of Catholic commitment, such as frequency of Mass attendance, prayer, and communion. Gender differences were not found to be significant. Socialization into the faith by family played a prominent role in the strength of commitment, with Catholic schooling showing a relatively weak impact. To explain this pattern, Bullivant and Clements draw on the “creative minority” effect, which they see as a byproduct of secularization. The “dissipation of an overarching Catholic subculture,” they write, “and the normalization of ‘no religion,’ means that younger adults who nevertheless (still) identify as Catholic have increasingly to ‘own’ it. To be a 20- or 30-something British Catholic, especially a practicing and believing one, is to swim against the prevailing cultural currents.”

    But the authors add that the trend is more than just a byproduct of secularization. “It means that the other such Catholics they meet––perhaps at a university Catholic Society, or by gravitating to a particular church or movement, and/or by falling in with a certain crowd on social media––are also, necessarily, among the more committed themselves. This in turn produces a subcultural dynamic…of mutual validation and reinforcement, encouraging members to go increasingly all in with their Catholicism, not merely by the standards of the wider culture, but by those of other (predominantly older) practicing Catholics too.”

  • (Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion,

    Source: Society of African Missions.