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Bible Reading and Polarization

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Many Canadians don’t read the Bible. When asked why, a lot of people say they’re too busy and some say they have no interest in doing so. [Source: The 2009 National Bible Engagement Survey conducted by SGM Canada with 1259 people of all age groups in 18 cities in 9 provinces. The findings revealed that 58.8% of Canadians do not read the Bible]            

What lies behind the reasons people give for not reading the Bible? Polarization may be a contributing factor. Polarization is the term used to describe the gap between people who value faith and people who don’t. It is the current religious reality in Canada. It’s also a widening gulf – there are rising numbers of people who constitute an “ambivalent middle” as well as a growing core of people without faith (cf. Reginald Bibby, A New Day: The Resilience and Restructuring of Religion in Canada).

From a Bible engagement perspective, polarization is a significant issue. Why? Because when people don’t value faith, they don’t read the Book that informs faith. When people don’t read the Bible, they’re not positioned to become part of it, i.e., to meet the One who wants to merge their stories with His Story.*

The problem of polarization raises a challenging question:  How is an invitation to read the Bible extended to people who don’t want to read it? For many years this question was a conundrum for the SU Canada staff. Then in 2011 we conceived the writing and publishing of an e-book that would be an invitation to read the Bible. This birthed Taste and See: An Invitation to Read the Bible.

When the author, Annabel Robinson, was nearly finished writing Taste and See, we found ourselves at an impasse. We realized the book wouldn’t serve its purpose if we didn’t find a way to connect the prospective reader with it. As we grappled with this problem we quickly realized we would have to make it available as a free e-book – our reasoning being that no one would pay for a book about a book they didn’t want to read! But making it a free e-book didn’t guarantee anything. Many good books don’t get read because they’re not marketed. Our friends at the Canadian Bible Society suggested a social media campaign. It was a great idea. As co-publishers of Taste and See the CBS developed a marketing strategy wherein we equipped people of faith with the means to tell their non-Bible reading friends and family about the book via Facebook, Twitter, etc.

What are your thoughts or comments concerning the problem of polarization? We’d appreciate hearing from you.

    Taste and See: An Invitation to Read the Bible

Published by SU Canada and the Canadian Bible Society
Available as a free download

*This statement is not meant to imply that Bible reading is the only way to come to faith in Christ. People come to faith in many different ways.  That said, faith isn’t faith unless it’s a biblically informed faith!

© Scripture Union Canada 2012

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