A new report found that Americans who regularly read the Bible are more likely to demonstrate "neighborliness" than less religious Americans.
According to the American Bible Society's 12th Annual "State of the Bible" report, the latest released chapter, "Chapter 4: A Nation of Neighbors," looked at "civic involvement and life care," "Intellectual humility," "prosocial priorities" and "neighborliness."
Respondents identified as "Scripture Engaged" — meaning "consistent interaction with the Bible that shapes people's choices and transforms their relationships with God, self, and others" — scored the highest level of support for "prosocial priorities," The Christian Post reports.
Those priorities include actions and behaviors such as welcoming immigrants, befriending people of other races or religions, caring for those imprisoned, caring for the environment, being a good neighbor and advocating for those who are oppressed by society.
"In a ruthless cycle of news headlines showing suffering and disruption, people are longing to return to neighborliness — desperately hoping for compassion and to see that neighbors will gladly help neighbors when needed," he said. "Our research shows that regular engagement with Scripture brings hope and healing for people."
"It also suggests that those who seek to actively live their life according to the Word of God are prone to exhibit kindness and neighborly qualities," he added. "To show a hurting world what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves, we must return to the pages of the Bible."
"Scripture Engaged" respondents were more likely to agree with the importance of acting as a "good neighbor" (5.3 out of 6 points) than those in the "movable middle" (4.7) or the "Bible disengaged" (4.8).
"Movable middle" was defined as those who "sporadically interact" with the Bible, and "Bible disengaged" referred to those who said the Bible has "minimal influence in their lives."
"Scripture Engaged" respondents also scored higher when it came to quantifying levels of "loving people," such as helping strangers, volunteering for a charity, donating money, and praying for others. On a four-point scale to measure "loving others," those respondents scored an average of 2.2, while the movable middle and the Bible disengaged scored 1.8 and 1.7.
The report included survey results from a sample of more than 8,600 people ages 18 and older.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.