The Good Book

Take that, Glenn Beck. A new study finds that reading the Bible may help make American Christians more concerned about social justice. David Briggs reports for the Association of Religion Data Archives:

What daily practice may help American Christians become more concerned about issues of poverty, conservation and civil liberties?

Reading the Bible.

The answer may come as a surprise to those locked into viewing religious practices in ideological boxes. However, a new study by Baylor University researcher Aaron Franzen found frequent Bible reading predicted greater support for issues ranging from the compatibility of science and religion to more humane treatment of criminals.

The study, one of the first to examine the social consequences of reading Scripture, reveals the effects of Bible reading appear to transcend conservative-liberal boundaries.

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, Franzen found.

The study found that among Biblical literalists, those who read the Good Book are more concerned about social justice than those who don't.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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