COVID-19 Hurts. But the Bible Brings Hope.

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New study shows Scripture reading correlates with Harvard measures of human flourishing.

In times of trial and trouble, many Americans turn to the Bible for encouragement. And with good reason, according to a new study. In the middle of a global pandemic, a contentious election, and social unrest, the American Bible Society (ABS), with assistance from Harvard University’s Human Flourishing Program, found a strong correlation between Scripture reading and hope.

Frequent Bible readers rated themselves 33 points more hopeful than irregular Scripture readers did in two surveys of more than 1,000 people done six months apart. The study also found that people are more hopeful when they read Scripture more frequently.

On a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the most hopeful, Americans who report reading the Bible three or four times per year scored 42; people who read monthly scored 59; weekly, 66; and multiple times per week, 75.

People who never read the Bible are slightly more hopeful than those who rarely read it, according to the study. But non-Bible-readers are about 5 points less hopeful than those who read Scripture on a monthly basis.

Bible reading—along with other forms of community and discipleship, such as going to church or participating in a small group—appear to contribute to people’s sense of well-being and happiness, said Tyler VanderWeele, director of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health.

“The churches have an important and profound role in contributing to people’s well-being in general—and especially so during this time,” he said.

The findings are consistent with other studies on the impact of religious affiliation and human flourishing, according to VanderWeele. People who attend church and …

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