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State of the Bible: More hope, less stress for Gen Zers engaged in Scripture

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PHILADELPHIA (BP) – Scripture engagement improves hope and lowers stress in Generation Z, a group that otherwise fares worse than any other generation, the American Bible Society said in its latest release from the 2024 State of the Bible.

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Gen Zers largely saw their life’s plans interrupted by the COVID pandemic and are stressed and less hopeful amid an uncertain job market exacerbated by rising living costs and likely college debt, the ABS said in its third chapter of the annual report released June 13.

“As a group, these 18-27-year-olds are less connected with the church and the Bible than older generations,” said John Farquhar Plake, ABS chief innovation officer and State of the Bible editor-in-chief, upon the release of the findings. “But what about those in Gen Z who do engage with Scripture?

“Not only do they score higher on the Human Flourishing scale than other young adults who don’t read the Bible,” he said, “but they have the highest score of any generation.”

Additionally, in all generations, those who say they can forgive a person who has wronged them, whether or not that person has apologized, score higher in human flourishing and hopefulness, researchers said.

“Apparently, the ability to forgive is a key component of moving forward with one’s life in a positive way. This is an important insight, and not only for Christians,” researchers wrote. “People are held back in their own personal progress when they can’t forgive others. They may think they’re getting back at those who hurt them, but they’re only depriving themselves of a forward-moving hope.”

Boomers fare better than other generations in all areas of human flourishing, suffer less stress and are by far more hopeful, findings researchers contributed to the group’s higher levels of Scripture engagement and practicing Christianity, and the group’s ability to thrive.

Since 2020, researchers have used Harvard University’s Human Flourishing Index to track human progress in areas defined by happiness and life satisfaction, mental and physical health, meaning and purpose in life, character and virtue, close social relationships, and financial and material stability.

State of the Bible is based on a nationally representative survey conducted for ABS by NORC (previously the National Opinion Research Center) at the University of Chicago, using the AmeriSpeak panel. Findings are based on 2,506 online interviews conducted in January 2024 with adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Additional chapters scheduled for release this year focus on philanthropy, the Church in America, finding hope and healing in the Bible, dealing with disappointment, and how the Bible can impact loneliness, among other topics.

Download the third chapter here.