Reading the Bible in America: The moral and political attitude effect

Document Type


Publication Date



The Bible is an important text in American history, but research analyzing the social consequences of reading the Bible is very limited. Research focusing on religious practices or religiosity with Bible reading as part of a scale shows a tendency towards conservatism and traditionalism, as do more literalist views of the Bible. In the present study, biblical literalism is treated as a powerful context guiding one’s reading. The focus here is a quantitative view of Bible reading, deploying two ‘conservative’ and two ‘liberal’ moral/political scales and two competing views for how Bible reading may function. Results indicate that Bible reading is positively related to both of the liberal scales as well as the conservative scales for non-literalists, but not for those with literalist Bible views. The findings begin to show the importance of independent Bible reading, how it may function differently for literalists and non-literalists, and highlights the degree to which literalism and Bible reading are different constructs.