My good friends over at Theos, the public theology think tank, have just published an interesting, and midly humorous report, which demonstrates that a quarter of people in Britain confuse the Bible with speeches by Sir Bob Geldof.
In a ComRes poll, 27% of people questioned wrongly believed that the statement “You must defend those who are helpless and have no hope. Be fair and give justice to the poor and homeless” – Proverbs Chapter 31, verse 8 – came from a speech by the singer, songwriter and activist Bob Geldof. A further 20% thought it was from a report by former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan. Only 13% of people correctly identified the statement as coming from the Bible.
The findings of the Theos research have been released to coincide with the launch of a new Poverty and Justice Bible by Bible Society. The Bible highlights for the first time more than 2,000 passages which speak of attitudes towards poverty and injustice. It was developed following comments by leading Christian activists, including the U2 front-man Bono, that the 2,000 verses dealing with poverty cannot be ignored.
Commenting on the results of the research, Paul Woolley, Director of Theos said:
“The issue of global poverty and injustice is a major concern to a majority of people in society. It is encouraging to see that 52% of people rightly think that the Bible offers more teaching on this subject than hell, adultery and homosexuality.
“However, there are clearly some important challenges to the Christian community contained within these findings. The fact that people confuse the Bible and a speech by Bob Geldof is intriguing, but the fact that 42% of people disagree that the Bible champions the cause of the poor and marginalised demonstrates a significant degree of biblical illiteracy and the need for the Christian community to model the emphases of its sacred text more clearly.”
I’ve already got my copy ordered and await with interest precisely what has been highlighted and why. My guess is there will be some interesting hermeneutical questions to be drawn from the decisions made, but whatever debate there may be had over its publication, I for one think it’s an excellent and timely decision after years of some quite bizarre re-packagings of the Bible.