Half of Dutch Christians never open the Bible


Western Europe


The Dutch king Willem Alexander receives a new Bible translation. Photo ANP, Robin Utrecht

While more than one in five Dutch people reads the Bible, almost half of the Dutch Christians rarely or never open the most read Book in the world.

That is shown by a survey of the Nederlands-Vlaams Bijbelgenootschap (Dutch Bible Society, NBG) about which the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad reports.

Of the Christian participants, 74 per cent says to find the Bible a relevant book. However, of them, only 33 per cent read it daily or at least once a week. An additional 10 per cent says to read the Bible every month, but the others rarely or never open the Book.

For most Christian respondents (80 per cent), the Covid pandemic did not lead to more Bible reading. However, a third of young people (between 18 and 29) read the Bible more often than before the pandemic.

The most prominent reason mentioned for reading the Bible is that it gives people hope. Another motivation is that it teaches lessons about life or that it helps people to trust God.

People who read the Bible regularly say they read less than they would like to. The most important reason is that they do not have enough time. Other mentioned obstacles to Bible reading are "the contradictory message" and "difficulty to understand the text."

Four out of five Bible readers say they feel connected to God by reading the Bible. For at least two-thirds of those respondents, the Bible influences how they deal with other people, their choices, and their willingness to become active in charities.

Of all respondents, both Christian and non-Christian, almost a third said to find the Bible a relevant Book. That number has increased since the last survey on the topic was carried out in 2017.

However, fewer people read the Bible together with others. This decline is due to the cancellation of church services during the Covid pandemic. Remarkable, however, is that also fewer people read the Bible at home with their parents or children.

Furthermore, the survey showed that people use an online Bible more often. In 2017, this was less than 10 per cent of the respondents; now, it is 25 per cent. Yet, an overwhelming majority (75 per cent) still prefers a paper edition.

Worrying development

The director of the NBG, Rieuwerd Buitenwerf, says to be happy that the number of people who read the Bible has remained relatively stable since 2017. However, he also sees some challenges. "Three-quarters of the Dutch and a significant part of the Christian population rarely or never reads the Bible. We see a growing need for tools to help in Bible reading. Also, more positive attention to the Bible in church and society is something many people want. We will take on these challenges."

Anne-Mareike Schol-Wetter, who also works for the NGB, finds it worrying that fewer people read the Bible together. She says so in an interview with the Nederlands Dagblad. "When fewer parents read the Bible to their children, the children will read less in the future."



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