Thirty percent of Americans are Biblical literalists

July 23, 2011

Thirty percent of Americans believe the Bible is the actual and literal word of God, according to a new study from the polling organization Gallup. Meanwhile, 49 percent said the Bible is the inspired word of God and that it should not be taken literally, while 17 percent said they consider it an ancient book of stories recorded by men.

You can click on the graph to the right to make it larger and put these numbers into brief historical perspective. Since polling on this question began in 1977, there has been an eight-point decline in the number of people who answer "Actual word." As you can see, those eight percentage points have been split evenly between "Inspired word" (From 45 to 49 percent) and "book of fables/legends" (from 13 to 17 percent). This is a small but noted trend toward a more liberal interpretation of religion. 

You can find further analysis at the Gallup website.